Back in 1913 the Great Miami River roared over its banks and flooded our fair city after days and days of rain.

After, city movers and shakers got together and promised this would never happen again. 

The Miami Conservancy District was founded to make that happen. A series of dams and levees formed one of the best flood prevention plans ever and is still marveled at by engineers all over the world.

One of the pieces to the flood prevention puzzle is a huge concrete wall directly across the river from RiverScape in downtown Dayton.

It’s sort of drab and grey and not much to look at. I mean, after all, it’s just a wall right? 

Well, not anymore, drum roll please … presenting the River Run Mural.

Artist Amy Deal from Oakwood designed it. She was chosen from some 80 artist entries from around the country.

The mural depicts activities along the river including bicycling, hiking and paddling.

“Living in the Miami Valley gave me great insight to all that is available in and around Dayton. We have extremely healthy waterways and miles of trails that are used for recreational purposes on a daily basis. Dayton is an active community and it was my goal to highlight that activity visually by speaking to all ages,” Deal says. 

The mural is a part of the RiverScape River Run project, which, when completed, will offer boating, kayaking and other water activities.

“Personally, I can’t wait to jump into a kayak. Everywhere you look there is great opportunity to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and it is very evident that the Dayton community is committed to creating a great environment,” she adds.

It really is a head turner.

“The new mural is a beautiful addition to our riverfront,” says Sandra K. Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership. “The project, from start to finish, was thanks to a huge collaborative community and now everyone can take pride in this incredible accomplishment. We thank our sponsors, the State of Ohio, the artists, K12 Gallery, universities, partners and others involved in the process. Once our RiverRun project is completed next year, it will be even better.”

And speaking of, contractors are now removing a portion of the top of the Monument Avenue low dam, which, in my humble opinion had a purpose but wasn’t very visually appealing. 

It will lower river levels and leave the dam’s foundation in place.

The foundation will be used to anchor a line of limestone boulders placed from riverbank to riverbank that will include fast-water passages for kayaks and canoes.

Once completed, contractors will begin work upriver to construct a second dam-like structure with limestone boulders and passages, one with fast water for expert boaters, the other with a slower flow for the less experienced.

At first I wasn’t sold on the idea, but now I’m a believer and others agree.

Joe writes, “It really is a nice addition to our downtown. I’m not a canoe or kayak fan, but may pick it up because of this cool project.”

Betsy says, “The mural adds some life to an otherwise drab wall that of course has a useful purpose. It’s wonderful to see what’s happening down there.”

Kevin chimes in, “At first wasn’t sure what they were doing with the mural and the project, but now to see the progress I think it will be a wonderful addition to the city center.” 

Cathy says, “We love to kayak and now don’t have to go for some great family fun.”

Bethany writes, “We can’t wait to get in the river! What a super amenity!” 

Clarisse says, “We loved taking the paddleboats out in the summer, but had to stop at the low dam. Now we can go even further on our great river. Not with the paddleboat obviously, but the canoes and kayaks. Don’t think it would be too fun going through there with a paddleboat.”

That, my friend, is an important safety tip.

Finally an out-of-towner, my brother Tom from Los Angeles who was born and raised here but hasn’t been “home” in several years, loves what we’re doing in his hometown.

“You know, in LA they are finally doing some upgrades on our river, which isn’t much of a waterway unless it rains. It’s looked like a drainage ditch forever and now they need to take a tip from Dayton to see the right thing to do. Leave it to the creative class in Dayton to come up with this wonderful project,” Tom shares.

RiverScape River Run is the signature project of the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan, a multi-pronged economic development initiative and strategic blueprint for Dayton’s center city, according to the Downtown Dayton Partnership. 

The project was made possible through the support of the CareSource Foundation, The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and Cox Media Group Ohio.

By the way, I’m told the $4 million project is on schedule and soon we will see folks enjoying the river that for far too long was ignored.

Heck, I may even give it a whirl, but not in a paddleboat.

Cheers!

Buch