This area has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and is recognized as the Muskingum River Navigation Historic District. In its day, the system of locks and dams that extends 112 miles through southeastern Ohio, helped open the state and the entire Midwest to trade and development.
The Muskingum River, because of its size and location, has played an important role in Ohio's history. Its watershed drains 8,036 square miles, an area equal to 1/5 of the entire state. It remains the longest continually navigable river traversing Ohio, due to the series of locks and dams that date back to 1841.
Missionaries settled along the headwaters of this picturesque river in 1761. The first permanent settlement in Ohio was established in 1788 at Marietta. One of the city's founders, General Rufus Putnam, recognized the economic potential of the Muskingum River for transporting raw materials to eastern markets and brought in New England shipbuilders. In 1824, steam-powered paddle wheelers joined the flatboat and keelboat traders, generating public support for river navigation.
West Point graduate Major Samuel Curtis designed a system of 10 dams and 11 locks to connect the Muskingum River to the Ohio and Erie Canal at Dresden. Opened in 1841, the system provided navigable waterways from Marietta to Lake Erie.
The campground closes for the winter season, Nov 1- Mar 31, each year.
Ellis Lock #11 (this lock is still closed until further notice)
20 non-electric sites
Located at 1390 Ellis Dam Road, Zanesville, OH
Water, picnic tables, fire rings and latrines are provided
Pets are permitted
Luke Chute Lock #5
8 primitive campsites
Boats with unlimited horsepower motors, jet skis, house boats, pontoon boats, canoes and kayaks travel the river. It is suggested that prior to departing for a boat trip on the Muskingum River, boaters contact the park office to check on river and lock conditions.
Public launch ramps are provided at Locks 4, 5, 6, 7 and 11. Public ramps operated by other entities are located near Locks 2, 7 and 10.
The Muskingum River is navigable from Dresden to Marietta. However, Lock #11 Ellis is closed until further notice and the river channel from Dresden to Ellis is unmarked and difficult to follow.
Information on navigation charts can be obtained at the park office.
Some of the tributaries that empty into the Muskingum River are also navigable for short distances and provide excellent fishing. The Licking River, which joins the Muskingum River in Zanesville, is navigable only by canoe or kayak.
All three species of black bass (largemouth, smallmouth and spotted), saugeye and various species of catfish swim the river. Bass are also found in several tributaries.
Fishing is permitted from boats and at each of the lock sites. However, fishing is prohibited from the lock walls.
A valid Ohio fishing license is required.
There are 10 picnic areas with picnic tables, grills, and latrines. Potable water is available at all locks except #5, #6, and #8. There is a shelterhouse between locks #6 and #7 along State Route 376, which is first-come, first-served. Visitors are requested to build fires only in the grills provided and to dispose of all litter properly.