First College in the Northwest Territory

Today, most students arrive to their college campus by car, bus, or plane however in 1797, settlers traveled by boat up the Hocking River and landed in Athens to establish the first college in the Northwest Territory. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 created a handful of new states outside the original 13 colonies. Marietta, Ohio was the first settled town in the new Northwest Territory and Chillicothe was named the first capital of Ohio. Athens was chosen as the spot for the first ¬†university as it was equidistant between Marietta and Chillicothe. Ohio University’s charter was officially approved in 1804 and is one of the oldest public institutions in the country. It was established only 11 months after the state was founded. Ohio University officially opened its doors in 1808 to three students. The school’s starting tuition was $6 per semester, about the price of one Chipotle burrito.

First College in the Northwest Territory

Photo via: Map of Athens County, Ohio, 1866 from Actual Surveys by E.H. Moore; courtesy of Robin Lacy