Scioto River Recreation Boosts Business

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Sailing on the Scioto(Photo: Sam Hendren / WOSU)
Sailing on the Scioto(Photo: Sam Hendren / WOSU)

The Scioto Mile is turning out to be a popular downtown Columbus destination.  But there are miles of the Scioto River upstream that have been popular for years.  And at the O’Shaughnessy Reservoir there’s a quiet business renaissance underway.

 

Anthony Sasson paddles his canoe down the Scioto River just below Griggs Reservoir.  It’s here that the Scioto is, for just a few miles, a wild river again; one that very few people in Columbus have ever seen.  It’s a very different river, says Sasson, from the one that passes by the Scioto Mile.

 

“Down in the Scioto Mile area that’s a more controlled part of the river with some dams downtown and also with the walls down there it’s sort of contained,” Sasson says. “And this is quite a bit wilder.”

This wild stretch is a popular place for fishing and kayaking.  But 20 miles upriver, just across the Delaware County line, you’ll find the 845-acre O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

 

The dam built here in 1925 impounds more than 6 billion gallons of water from the Scioto; water that’s vital to the city of Columbus.  This part of the Scioto above the dam is another popular recreation spot.  Just ask Jim Thomas, a board member of the Leatherlips Yacht Club.

 

“For a water person it’s critical,” Thomas says.  “For somebody that likes to sail or motorboat or water ski, it is the recreation.”

 

The wind fills the sail of Thomas’s 12-foot Sunfish sailboat.  On weekends you can find him racing on the reservoir.

 

“I think it’s poetry in motion, multi-colored boats going everywhere, sails of all sizes and colors,” Thomas says.  “It’s art on the water.”

 

Christie Whitt is head of the yacht club.

 

“This club is just hopping; there’s people here all the time, different groups; we have a sailing team, we “Adult Learn To Sail,” we have “Kids Learn To Sail,” we have people here who just sit up here and bring their coffee in the morning and just sit by the water who don’t even sail, I mean it’s just the place to be,” says Whitt.

 

The area known as Shawnee Hills appears to be on the verge of a business resurgence.  On the edge of the reservoir’s west bank is the famous Bogey Bar and Grill.  Its new owner, Tressa Parenteau, says boating on the reservoir – and the river in general – is good for business…

 

“We actually have regulars who come in weekly after getting off the boat and coming in and getting a bite to eat and that after-dinner drink as well,” Parenteau says. “So I think it brings everybody to a family setting and to go out and enjoy Mother Nature and just relax a little bit.”

 

Across the street is the Scioto Board Shop where customers can find water skis, wakeboards and tubes for having fun on the river.

 

“This is our selection of wakeboards back in the corner over here,” says Drew Ridgway, a sales associate.

 

“This right here is actually the same kind of board that I ride which is the Rusty Malinoski Hyperlite Marek.  It’s got a continuous rocker with four molded removable fins, it also has a nice deep center channel to help the board track on the water and it also has sharp edges to help it cut and hold that edge when you’re going into the wake….

 

Ridgway says the Scioto is extremely important for his company’s business.  And sales are good, he says, for a company that’s only been in operation for about a year.

 

“We weren’t really sure exactly how we were going to do but we actually have been doing a lot better than had been projected because historically board shops don’t do too well in Columbus but we’re here to fill the need and a lot of our customers are happy that we’re here,” Ridgway says.

 

So the next time you visit the Scioto Mile remember there are miles of the Scioto upstream also worth visiting

 

 

 

 

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