In pre-colonial times, Native Americans (notably the Ottawa) began using the rich resources at the present site of Maumee, Ohio, in the Maumee River valley. Throughout much of the eighteenth century, French, British and American forces struggled for control of the lower Maumee River as a major transportation artery linking East and West through Lake Erie.
Following the American Revolutionary War, Native Americans of the region, including the Odawa, Ojibwe and Potawatomie, and Shawnee, made alliances in what became called the Northwest Territory by the United States, which claimed it from the British after gaining independence. The Northwest Indian War was a series of conflicts from 1784 through 1794 between these nations and the US; it ended with a decisive American victory over the British and their Native American allies at the Battle of Fallen Timbers at Maumee in 1794. Together with the conclusion of the War of 1812, which preserved most US territory, the end of warfare and defeat of the Native Americans opened the way for American expansion in present-day Ohio. Promoters arrived who were eager to make a fortune in selling and developing western lands.
In 1817 a town plat was laid out at the Foot of the Rapids of the Maumee River, and within a decade, the settlement was gaining recognition as a major trans-shipment point connecting Lake Erie and the land to the west. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 in New York State stimulated migration to Ohio, as it connected Great Lakes communities to the Hudson River and port of New York City. Completion of the Wabash and Erie Canal in 1840 further stimulated the economy. Jessup Scott, a noted town promoter, predicted that Maumee would become the "great city of the West," surpassing all rivals. By mid-century Maumee was a flourishing center of river trade, commerce and shipbuilding. Nearly twenty mercantile companies crowded the three miles (5 km) of ship docks and competed for the retail and wholesale trade.
Greek Revival Townhouse built in the 1840s. Originally located on Wayne and Gibbs Street
In 1840 Maumee was designated as the county seat; lawyers came from miles around to practice in the imposing Greek Revival Lucas County Courthouse erected by private subscription. Court days were a time of trade and commerce, as well. The federal custom house and post office also were located in Maumee.
C & O Toledo Terminal in Maumee
Dreams of greatness began to fade in the 1850s, when ships too large to navigate the river were introduced for use in the Great Lakes. In addition, the railroad provided faster and cheaper means of transportation than river traffic and drew off business. As the population expanded westward, Maumee lost the county seat in 1854. A "gas boom" in the 1880s was short lived, and Maumee became, as one observer wrote, " a sleepy little town."
Nearly a century later, in the 1970s, Maumee developed an economic renaissance. Today the city is one of the largest business centers in Northwest Ohio. Together, Arrowhead Business Park and Maumee's historic business community contribute to the 30,000 plus jobs in the community. Maumee has expanded its original boundaries, and the population has grown to more than 15,000 residents. Maumee's neighborhoods retain their small town flavor; in addition, many historic homes and buildings of the early residents still stand along the tree-lined streets of the architectural districts.