Book details history of lost communities from local Dillon Dam construction


The old Nashport School before it was demolished to make way for Dillon Dam.

By Staff Report

At a lunch and learn event Thursday afternoon community members gathered in the auditorium at the John McIntire Library to listen to an author who pulled together the history of the towns lost when the U.S. Government constructed Dillon Dam.

The book, Before Dillon, is a masterful collection of photos and stories designed to forever document the now underwater communities and people who were scattered as the Army Corps of Engineers worked to prevent devastating flooding downriver in southeast Ohio.

According to author Rose Ellen Jenkins, the idea for the book came when a discussion began that there was a need to document the history of the towns and their peoples lost when the dam was constructed.

“The response was overwhelming,” Jenkins explained noting how so many people stepped up, from around the country, to provide pieces that made the book complete.

The endeavor began in Spring 2019 and lasted through most of 2020. Jenkins said in a way the pandemic actually helped because so many people were stuck inside and had the time to locate pictures, collect memoirs, and be interviewed by her.

During her presentation Thursday, Jenkins gave an overview of the nearly 200 page book, how she collected sources and the many many people who contributed – forever putting to paper a piece of the county’s history.

“This is so many people’s history, but when they are gone the history will be gone,” Jenkins said during the hour-long talk, citing the importance the book has in archiving the memory of those who occupied the land before it was flooded.

Audience members provided personal accounts of their experiences, including when the government bought the land. One gentleman spoke about his time at the old Nashport school before it was torn down, like the rest of the town.

Those interested in watching the presentation can do so by watching it on the Muskingum County Library System’s Facebook page.

The book can be purchased for $27 online or in person on the second floor of the downtown Zanesville library. The Muskingum County Chapter of Ohio Genealogical Society (MCCOGS) is open to the public Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.