Historic Fort Steuben was built in 1786 by the First American Regiment for the protection of surveyors who had been sent by the Continental Congress to map the Northwest Territory. At this time the natives in the area were hostile.
The site was selected as most desirable for a military defense since it was bounded on the east by the Ohio River and lay on a slope of land that was uniform and drained toward the river with hills to the west which formed a natural amphitheater around the perimeter. It was on this site that Captain John Francis Hamtramck of the First American Regiment built a small blockhouse for the protection of his provisions while he and his men constructed the fort.
By February 1787, Hamtramck and his men had completed construction of the fort and named it after Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a Prussian army officer who had ably assisted General Washington as his drillmaster in the Revolutionary War. The town that subsequently developed on the site still carries his name. (Learn more about him in our display and HERE.)
Two hundred years later, the non-profit Old Fort Steuben Project, Inc. was formed to reconstruct the fort on its original site and to offer historical and educational programs.
Today, Historic Fort Steuben is open to the public. The blockhouses for the enlisted men, the officers’ quarters, the quartermaster and the artificer’s shops, the guardhouse, the hospital and the commissary depict the daily life of the men who helped open up the new territories to settlement. A frontiersman's camp and a display on surveying including an 1830 survey stone present a broader picture of the significance of the Fort.
The First Federal Land Office west of the Alleghenies is located adjacent to Historic Fort Steuben. This is the original structure and houses antiques as well as documents that were part of the early history of Ohio. A tour of the Land Office is included in your visit to Historic Fort Steuben. Follow this link to learn more about the development of the Federal Land Offices: Federal Land Offices (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)