Ashtabula, Ohio Facts for Kids (2024)

Quick facts for kids

Ashtabula, Ohio


West 5th Street in Ashtabula

Location of Ashtabula, Ohio

Location of Ashtabula in Ashtabula County

CountryUnited States
•Total7.92sqmi (20.53km2)
•Land7.77sqmi (20.11km2)
•Water0.16sqmi (0.41km2)
Elevation673ft (205m)




•Density2,319.98/sqmi (895.76/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
•Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes


Area code(s)440
FIPS code39-02638
GNIS feature ID1048468

Railyard in the port of Ashtabula

Ashtabula ( ASH-tə-BYU-lə) is a city in Ashtabula County, Ohio, United States, and the center of the Ashtabula Micropolitan Statistical Area (as defined by the United States Census Bureau in 2003). It is located at the mouth of the Ashtabula River on Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes, across from the province of Ontario, Canada and 53 miles (85km) northeast of Cleveland. The name Ashtabula is derived from ashtepihəle, which means 'always enough fish to be shared around' in the Lenape language.

The city became an important destination on the Underground Railroad in the middle 19th century, as refugee slaves could take ships to Canada and freedom. Even in the free state of Ohio, they were at risk of being captured by slavecatchers. Beginning in the late 19th century, the city became a major coal port on Lake Erie at the mouth of the Ashtabula River northeast of Cleveland. Coal and iron were shipped here, the latter from the Mesabi Range in Minnesota. The city attracted immigrants from Finland, Sweden and Italy in the industrial period. Ashtabula hosts an annual Blessing of the Fleet Celebration, usually in late May or early June. As part of the celebration, a religious procession and prayer service is held at Ashtabula Harbor. The city was the site of the FinnFestUSA in 2007, a celebration of Finnish Americans.

As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 19,124, a decrease of 1,838 (8.8%). from the 20,962 residents recorded in the 2000 census. Like many other cities in the Rust Belt, it has lost population due to a decline in industrial jobs.


  • History
    • Tragedies
  • Port
  • Geography
  • Demographics
    • 2010 census
  • USS Ashtabula
  • Representation in other media
  • Gallery of Ashtabula
  • Education
  • Notable people
  • Images for kids
  • See also


This area had long been inhabited by indigenous peoples. After the American Revolutionary War, the United States mounted the Northwest Indian War to push Native American peoples out of what it then called the Northwest - the area of the Midwest south of the Great Lakes and west of the Appalachian Mountains. The success of this military effort resulted in more European Americans entering Ohio and nearby territories.

The site of Ashtabula was settled by such European Americans beginning in 1803. The city was incorporated in 1891. Located directly on Lake Erie and developed as a port for trade, the city contained several stops on the Underground Railroad. This informal, secret system was the means by which anti-slavery supporters helped escaped African-American slaves reach freedom in Canada in the years before the American Civil War. While Ohio was a free state, many refugee slaves still felt at risk of slavecatchers here, particularly after the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was passed. It required enforcement and cooperation by residents of free states to return escaped slaves and was biased toward slavecatchers, requiring little documentation of their claims. Among the Underground Railroad sites in Ashtabula is Hubbard House, one of the handful of former surviving termination points. Refugee slaves stayed in a basem*nt of the house adjacent to the lake and then left on the next safe boat to Canada, gaining their freedom once they arrived in Ontario.

The city's harbor has been important as a large ore and coal port since the end of the 19th century, and integral to the steel manufacturing that was developed around the Great Lakes. Lake steamers and barges, built at shipyards along the Great Lakes and setting new records for size and tonnage, delivered cargoes of iron ore from the Mesabi Range in Minnesota. This continues as a coal port; a long coal ramp is visible in the harbor. Ore shipments are unloaded from 'lakers' (Great Lakes freighters) and shipped to surviving steel mills in Pennsylvania. Industrial jobs have declined since the late 20th century with much steel manufacturing moved offshore.

Many European immigrants, particularly from Finland, Sweden, and Italy, were attracted to the industrial jobs in Ashtabula in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as they could learn and accomplish tasks without having a great command of English. Ethnic rivalries among these groups were once a major influence on politics and daily life in Ashtabula.

These factors contributed to Ashtabula in 1915 being the first city in Ohio to adopt an election system based on proportional representation (PR) and single transfer voting (STV), which was believed to enable better representational government. It enabled minorities to enter politics But political bosses and parties that lost power under this system mounted a steady opposition that ultimately resulted in repeal of the city's charter and restoration of plurality voting, or 'winner take all.'

A substantial percentage of the current residents are descended from those early 20th-century immigrants. The population in the City of Ashtabula grew steadily until 1970, but has declined in recent years due to industrial restructuring and loss of jobs. Since the late 20th century, the city has become a destination for Hispanic or Latino immigrants, who by the 2010 census made up 9.3% of the population. (See 'Demographics' section below.)


Construction of railroads connected Ashtabula to a national network that contributed to its success as a port. On December 29, 1876, one of the nation's most notorious rail accidents occurred, known as the Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster, Ashtabula Horror, or Ashtabula bridge disaster. As Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway Train No. 5, The Pacific Express, crossed the Ashtabula River bridge, the Howe truss structure collapsed, dropping the second locomotive and 11 passenger cars into the frozen creek 150 feet (46m) below. A fire was started by the car stoves, and of the 159 people on board, 92 were killed and 64 were injured.

A rail ferry, also named Ashtabula, used to run from Ashtabula to Port Burwell, Ontario. The ferry was launched in 1906 and operated successfully for many decades. It collided with the steamer SS Ben Morell in September 1958, causing the ferry to sink.

On August 10, 1955, a natural gas leak was ignited by electrical equipment, or lighting. The resulting explosion destroyed a restaurant and five other buildings. 21 people were killed, and 15 injured.


In the 20th century Ashtabula developed rapidly as a major shipping and commercial center because of its access to Lake Erie and nearly 30 miles (48km) of shoreline.

During the 1950s, the area experienced growth with an expanding chemical industry and increasing harbor activity, making Ashtabula one of the most important port cities of the Great Lakes. Other historical industries in the area included a Rockwell International plant on Route 20 on the western side of Ashtabula, which manufactured brakes for the Space Shuttle program, and the extrusion of depleted and enriched uranium at the Reactive Metals Extrusion plant on East 21st Street.

Due to such industrial uses, however, there was extensive environmental contamination. The Ashtabula River and harbor were designated as a significant Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency in the late 20th century. A multi-year process of environmental cleanup of toxic wastes and soils was needed; cleanup concluded with river dredging in 2012-2014.

Ashtabula Harbor hosts an annual 'Blessing of the Fleet' community festival. This Blessing of the Fleet began as a practice of priests for Catholic Portuguese and Irish fishermen and tugmen who had settled in Ashtabula. During the 1930s, the Blessing was a small, almost private affair in early April conducted by a few tugmen, their parish priest, and an acolyte, according to their traditions. It took place annually when the Great Lakes were free enough of ice to be open for regular traffic. By 1950, this event was held as a public ceremony under the auspices of Mother of Sorrows parish. In 1974, the Blessing of the Fleet became a community affair, with all of Ashtabula's religious and harbor community participating.

The United States Coast Guard Station and the Harbor Museum help to preserve Ashtabula's maritime heritage.


Ashtabula is located at 41°52′38″N 80°47′49″W / 41.87722°N 80.79694°W (41.877138, -80.796976).

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 7.91 square miles (20.5km2), of which 7.74 square miles (20.0km2) (or 97.85%) is land and 0.17 square miles (0.44km2) (or 2.15%) is water.

Ashtabula is bordered by Lake Erie to the north and has a prominent harbor where the Ashtabula River flows into the lake. The Ashtabula Harbor was a primary coal harbor and still serves to ship. It has two public beaches: Walnut Beach, near the harbor, and Lake Shore Park, originally a Public Works Administration project during the Great Depression, on the opposite side of the harbor.

Part of the city lies in Ashtabula Township, and part lies in Saybrook Township.

The Ashtabula area receives a considerable amount of snow throughout the winter, with the average snowfall being 68inches. Much of the snow comes from lake-effect snow bands from the Great Lakes.


Historical population
2019 (est.)18,017−5.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

At the 2010 census there were 19,124 people in 7,746 households, including 4,724 families, in the city. The population density was 2,470.8 inhabitants per square mile (954.0/km2). There were 9,087 housing units at an average density of 1,174.0 per square mile (453.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 82.0% White, 8.9% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 3.3% from other races, and 5.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.3%.

Of the 7,746 households, 33.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% were married couples living together, 19.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.0% were non-families. 32.9% of households were one person, and 13.3% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.03.

The median age was 37 years. 26.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.9% were from 25 to 44; 25.8% were from 45 to 64; and 14.7% were 65 or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.6% male and 52.4% female.

USS Ashtabula

During World War II, the United States Navy used the names of rivers with Indian origins for an entire class of fleet oilers, which are used to replenish vessels while underway at sea. USS Ashtabula (AO-51) was commissioned in 1943 and served until 1982. Ashtabula was awarded eight battle stars for World War II service, four battle stars for the Korean War, and eight battle stars for duty in the Vietnam War. Partially scrapped in 1995, Ashtabula was expended as a target in fleet exercises on October 15, 2000. She has been the only Navy vessel to bear the name Ashtabula.

Representation in other media

  • Carl Sandburg wrote a poem titled "Crossing Ohio when Poppies Bloom in Ashtabula."
  • Vern Sneider's novel, The King from Ashtabula (1960), is set in this city.
  • Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" on his album Blood on the Tracks refers to Ashtabula, along with Honolulu and San Francisco.
  • Jack Kerouac's On the Road mentions Ashtabula. The main character, Sal Paradise, drives by Ashtabula in a bus during his cross-country trip.
  • The 1990 made-for-television movie, Always Remember I Love You, starring Patty Duke and Stephen Dorff, is set in Ashtabula.
  • Robert (Bob) McGuire's song "Moon over Parma" mentions Ashtabula (the place where the song's narrator met the girl of his affections) in its lyrics. This song was used as the Season 1 opening theme for the 90's sitcom The Drew Carey Show.

Gallery of Ashtabula

  • American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial

  • Point Park

  • Ashtabula Lift Bridge

  • Hubbard House


The Ashtabula Area School District serves Ashtabula (its high school is Lakeside High School). Kent State University at Ashtabula is located in the city, providing a local campus of this institution. As for private schools, Ashtabula or Saybrook is home to Saint John School, a K–12 school under the Diocese of Youngstown which has incorporated Ashtabula's previous parish schools and independent Catholic high school as one institution.

Ashtabula has two public libraries: the Harbor Topky Memorial Library, and a branch of the Ashtabula County District Library.

Notable people

  • Edwin Cowles, newspaperman
  • Isaac Arthur, board of elections chairman and science communicator
  • Jarrod Bunch, National Football League player
  • Charles E. Burchfield, watercolor painter
  • Edwin Cowles, newspaperman
  • William R. Daley, former owner of MLB's Cleveland Indians
  • Charles DeBarber, a cyber intelligence analyst on CBS's Hunted (2017 TV series)
  • Edward Mason Eggleston, painter and commercial illustrator
  • Wallace Wilson Graham. Wisconsin legislator and lawyer
  • Robert Lighthizer, 18th United States Trade Representative
  • Jesse Fuller McDonald, 16th Governor of Colorado
  • Urban Meyer, head football coach at the University of Florida and Ohio State University, former head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Danielle Nicolet, actress
  • Don Novello, actor and comedian
  • Maila Nurmi, Hollywood actress
  • Charles F. Osborn, Wisconsin politician, lawyer and jurist
  • Babe Parnell, National Football League player
  • Karl A. Peckol, lost in the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald
  • Paul M. Rippa, lost in the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald
  • Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
  • Louis C. Shepard, Civil War Medal of Honor recipient
  • T-Bone Slim, author and activist
  • Freddie Smith, Daytime Emmy Award-winning actor
  • John Spano, former owner of the New York Islanders
  • Andrew Tombes, Hollywood actor
  • Decius Wade, prominent Montana lawyer
  • Mark Wagner, Major League Baseball player

Images for kids

  • Coal rail cars at the Ashtabula Railway

  • Ashtabula Arts Center

  • A panoramic view of Indian Trails in park in June 2016

  • A view of the sunset in April 2015

See also

Ashtabula, Ohio Facts for Kids (13) In Spanish: Ashtabula (Ohio) para niños

All content from Kiddle encyclopedia articles (including the article images and facts) can be freely used under Attribution-ShareAlike license, unless stated otherwise. Cite this article:

Ashtabula, Ohio Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.

Ashtabula, Ohio Facts for Kids (2024)


What are some fun facts about Ashtabula? ›

The name Ashtabula is derived from ashtepihəle, which means "always enough fish to be shared around" in the Lenape language. In the middle of the 19th century, the city was an important destination on the Underground Railroad as refugee slaves took ships across Lake Erie to Canada.

What are 5 interesting facts about Ohio for kids? ›

Fun Facts
  • The first traffic light was in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Akron is considered the rubber capital of the world.
  • Ohio is home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Seven presidents of the United States were born in Ohio.

How did Ashtabula, Ohio get its name? ›

Ashtabula, city, Ashtabula county, northeastern Ohio, U.S. It lies along Lake Erie, at the mouth of the Ashtabula River, about 54 miles (87 km) northeast of Cleveland. The site was settled in 1801; its name, of Algonquian origin, possibly means “river of many fish” and was applied to the township (1808).

What is the meaning of the name Ashtabula? ›

Ashtabula was named by the Indians. The word was originally pronounced “Hash ‑ Ta La,” and its name, meaning “River of Many Fish,” was first applied to what is now the Ashtabula River.

What famous person is from Ashtabula Ohio? ›

Jerry Anderson (1953–1989), football player. Toni Baldwin (born 1995), singer and songwriter. Rankin Barbee (1874–1958), journalist and author.

What Native American tribe was in Ashtabula, Ohio? ›

CARL E. FEATHER / Star Beacon THE CONNEAUT Works, a bluff south of town along Conneaut Creek, is believed to have been the site of a fortification and village for the Erie tribe. It is one of two such sites documented in Ashtabula County.

What is Ohio's nickname for kids? ›

The Buckeye State gets its nickname from a common tree in Ohio called a buckeye. Its nuts look like a deer's eye—that is, a buck's eye.

What is Ohio's flower? ›

What river runs through Ashtabula Ohio? ›

The largest municipality is the City of Ashtabula. The Ashtabula River is a State Scenic River. The Ashtabula Scenic River has a total of 46 continuous designated river miles on three stream segments including the mainstem, East Branch and West Branch.

What is the ethnicity of Ashtabula Ohio? ›

Ashtabula, OH is home to a population of 18k people, from which 98.5% are citizens. As of 2022, 2.88% of Ashtabula, OH residents were born outside of the country (519 people). In 2022, there were 8.68 times more White (Non-Hispanic) residents (13k people) in Ashtabula, OH than any other race or ethnicity.

What is the crime rate in Ashtabula Ohio? ›

Ashtabula has an overall crime rate of 11 per 1,000 residents, making the crime rate here near the average for all cities and towns of all sizes in America.

What county is Ashtabula in? ›

Ashtabula County, Ohio has 702.4 square miles of land area and is the 1st largest county in Ohio by total area. Ashtabula County, Ohio is bordered by Erie County, Pennsylvania, Lake County, Ohio, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, Trumbull County, Ohio, and Geauga County, Ohio.

What does the name Karen mean? ›

Karen is a female name of Danish origin. It originated with the Danes and the Greeks and is a diminutive of the more formal Katherine. Karen means "pure," which points to the wonderful innocence of childhood and the loving, pure nature baby embodies.

What is a tabitha? ›

Meaning:Gazelle; Gracious. Tabitha is a female name of Aramaic origin, meaning "gazelle." or "gracious." Aramaic is closely linked to Hebrew and was the main language of Syria circa the 6th century. In the bible, Tabitha was a disciple of Jesus known for completing good deeds and treating others with kindness.

What does Ashtabula mean in Indian? ›

Our name, Ashtabula, is the softening of an Algonquin Indian term originally pronounced “Hush-tah-buh-lah”, which signified our Ashtabula River as “River of many fish.” We invite you to explore our website and discover a small sampling of what Ashtabula has to offer.

How many covered bridges are in Ashtabula? ›

Where Past Meet Present. Ashtabula County is Ohio's Covered Bridge Capital boasting more of these magnificent structures than anywhere else in the state. the region is home to 19 covered bridges including both the longest and the shortest in the United States!

What is the crime rate for Ashtabula Ohio? ›

Ashtabula has an overall crime rate of 11 per 1,000 residents, making the crime rate here near the average for all cities and towns of all sizes in America.

What is the shortest covered bridge in Ashtabula County? ›

Clearance 15'0' (10.6 mi. from Doyle Rd. Bridge) The shortest covered bridge in the United States spans only 18ft.

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