Piqua, Ohio

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Piqua, Ohio
Aerial view of Piqua
Aerial view of Piqua
Motto: "Where Vision becomes reality"
Location of Piqua, Ohio
Location of Piqua, Ohio
Coordinates: 40°8′51″N 84°14′53″W / 40.14750°N 84.24806°W / 40.14750; -84.24806Coordinates: 40°8′51″N 84°14′53″W / 40.14750°N 84.24806°W / 40.14750; -84.24806
Country United States
State Ohio
County Miami
 • Mayor Lucinda L. Fess
 • Total 11.89 sq mi (30.79 km2)
 • Land 11.62 sq mi (30.10 km2)
 • Water 0.27 sq mi (0.70 km2)
Elevation[2] 873 ft (266 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 20,522
 • Estimate (2012[4]) 20,619
 • Density 1,766.1/sq mi (681.9/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 45356
Area code(s) 937
FIPS code 39-62848[5]
GNIS feature ID 1061544[2]
Website http://www.piquaoh.org/

Piqua /ˈpɪkwə/ PIK-wə is a city in Miami County, Ohio, United States. The population was 20,522 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Piqua was one of the cities that experienced severe flooding during the Great Dayton Flood of 1913.


Although officially incorporated in 1807, Piqua's history dates back to a previous settlement in 1747 called Fort Pickawillany located a mile northeast of the present city at the Great Miami River's intersection with Loramie Creek. The word 'Piqua' is believed to be a reference to the Shawnee Indian phrase: "Othath-He-Waugh-Pe-Qua" translated as "He has risen from the ashes!" The phrase is mentioned in a painting of a Native American rising up above the flames before a tribe of onlookers in a state of amazement. The painting is on public display inside the main office of Unity National Bank, the former Third Savings and Loan Association in downtown Piqua. The legendary story depicted led to the name of the Pekowi, one of the five divisions of the Shawnee people, who once lived there and, eventually, "Piqua."

Piqua's Shawnee Native American history became the namesake for the community of Shawnee, founded in 1797 which is bordered on the east side of the river adjacent to downtown and the former Pennsylvania Railroad corridor later used by the merged Penn Central Transportation and subsequently by Conrail. Shawnee has also long since been incorporated into Piqua. The Piqua High School Indians athletic teams also took its inspiration from its local Native American history. Piqua started out as two separate communities, Upper Piqua and Lower Piqua in 1780. The two villages became one community by 1800.

Rossville (since incorporated into Piqua) was the first local African-American settlement after the Randolph slaves were freed following the passing of John Randolph in 1833. The Rossville neighborhood and Randolph cemetery are located on the northeast side of the river off North County Road 25-A.

The 'Atomic City'[edit]

Piqua was home to the first municipally-operated nuclear power plant, Piqua Nuclear Generating Station, in operation from 1962 to 1966 earning its short lived nickname "The Atomic City." This facility was a major demonstration failure and the Atomic Energy Commission bought out the contract with the City of Piqua, for an early contract termination. During this period a name brand automotive battery, the "Piqua Atomic Power Plant" was manufactured and marketed locally.

Notable buildings[edit]

Fort Piqua Hotel is one of four sites in Piqua listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Dominating Piqua's downtown, the "Orr-Statler Block" building at the corner of Main and High Streets, was erected in 1891. For many years its core tenant was a hotel of over one hundred rooms, first known as the "Plaza" and later as the "Favorite" and finally the "Fort Piqua," which closed in the 1980s. The building's street level commercial spaces were occupied by a variety of businesses over the years, including a barbershop, a grocer, a bank, the local telephone company business office, Western Union, a combination bus station and taxi office with a very popular soda fountain and lunch counter and others. The hotel's bar was moved to the corner basement location just prior to Prohibition's start and is rumored to have closed only its outside entrance during those years. After a period of disrepair and neglect and the announcements of several renewal plans which never secured adequate funding, the building underwent a massive and long awaited major interior renovation. After two years of work, the building became the home of Piqua's public library. The inside also now hosts a full-scale restaurant and bar, complete with a patio for live entertainment, Mulligan's Pub. The renovated building was renamed and rededicated, and is now known as Fort Piqua Plaza.[6]

Road and railroad access[edit]

Piqua has two Main Streets, the one being north and southbound along Miami County Road 25-A(the former U.S. Highway 25, also known as the Dixie Highway) the other running east through Shawnee. U.S. 36 also runs through much of the city, cutting the town almost directly in half. Main and Ash Streets (U.S. 36) converge in Piqua's downtown. Also running through downtown is the east to west Conrail corridor which was originally the Pennsylvania Railroad two-track throughway which was abandoned in 1985. A section of it became a bike trail in the summer of 2001 now known as Linear Park. The remaining rail line serving Piqua is the north and southbound Baltimore and Ohio line now operated by CSX Transportation (CSXT).


Piqua is located at 40°8′51″N 84°14′53″W / 40.14750°N 84.24806°W / 40.14750; -84.24806 (40.147474, -84.247968).[7]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.89 square miles (30.79 km2), of which 11.62 square miles (30.10 km2) is land and 0.27 square miles (0.70 km2) is water.[1]

The Great Miami River runs through Piqua. The area at the south end of town on the east side of the river is known as Shawnee.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 3,277
1860 4,616 40.9%
1870 5,967 29.3%
1880 6,031 1.1%
1890 9,090 50.7%
1900 12,172 33.9%
1910 13,388 10.0%
1920 15,044 12.4%
1930 16,009 6.4%
1940 16,049 0.2%
1950 17,447 8.7%
1960 19,219 10.2%
1970 20,741 7.9%
1980 20,480 −1.3%
1990 20,612 0.6%
2000 20,738 0.6%
2010 20,522 −1.0%
Est. 2012 20,619 0.5%

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 20,522 people, 8,318 households, and 5,425 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,766.1 inhabitants per square mile (681.9 /km2). There were 9,311 housing units at an average density of 801.3 per square mile (309.4 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.4% White, 3.3% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.4% of the population.

There were 8,318 households of which 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.9% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.8% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.96.

The median age in the city was 38.1 years. 24.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.6% were from 25 to 44; 26.2% were from 45 to 64; and 14.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.0% male and 52.0% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 20,738 people, 8,263 households, and 5,585 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,939.2 people per square mile (749.0/km²). There were 8,886 housing units at an average density of 830.9 per square mile (320.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.21% White, 3.38% African American, 0.33% Native American, 0.44% Asian, 0.27% from other races, and 1.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.74% of the population.

There were 8,263 households out of which 32.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.4% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.4% were non-families. 27.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.5% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,681, and the median income for a family was $41,804. Males had a median income of $31,808 versus $22,241 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,719. About 9.6% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.0% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.


The city of Piqua is the home of Hartzell Propeller, the leading producer of small aircraft propellers in the world. Evenflo of Piqua (formerly Questor Juvenile Furniture) is the leading manufacturer of infant and toddler car seats and has become one of Piqua's leading employers and industries.

In the late 1890s, Southwest Ohio was the heart of the US flaxseed growing area, and there were as many as 13 linseed oil mills in Piqua, where the flaxseed was "crushed" to extract the vegetable oil, named linseed oil. The flax fiber was used for cloth and paper, and the oil was used for a variety of industrial uses. The name linoleum comes from the linseed oil which is the binder. One of the vegetable oil mills in Piqua burned down—a common fate for wooden buildings soaked with vegetable oil—and the owner, American Linseed Oil Company, dispatched Alfred Willard French, their Chief Engineer, from Brooklyn, New York, to organize and supervise the rebuilding of the oil mill.

During the rebuilding of the linseed oil mill, French included a machine he had invented and patented in 1898, a "cake trimmer", and purchased the most modern equipment then available. He met the leading citizens of Piqua. They were impressed with this engineer, who had graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in only three years, and had entrepreneurial spirit; they decided to invest in a new company he wanted to start. The French Oil Mill Machinery Company was founded 25 May 1900, with French as president, to make "improved oil mill machinery". By 1905 the company was exporting its patented and rugged vegetable oil mill extraction machinery all around the world. Today, the company has customers in over 80 countries, still serving the vegetable oil extraction market (to press such seeds as soybeans, cottonseed, rapeseed, canola, and many others). In addition, the company is a world leader in synthetic rubber dewatering and drying machinery, and in hydraulic molding presses for rubber, thermoplastic and composite materials.

The city also was a major center of underwear production during the late 19th century and much of the 20th century. A yearly Outdoor Underwear Festival was held downtown from 1988 until shortly after the demise and demolition of the factory owned by Medalist-Allen A, a direct descendant of the Atlas Underwear Company. Originally the festival had a serious historical focus, but in later years it attracted adventurous types from surrounding towns, and Piqua residents discouraged their own children from attending. Heritage Green Park now occupies the former Medalist factory site.

The Meteor Motor Car Company (later the Miller-Meteor division of Richmond, Indiana-based school bus manufacturer Wayne Corporation) had a brief run as an independent record label and phonograph manufacturer in the 1920s. Afterward, Miller-Meteor produced ambulances and hearses before closing down in 1979.

The Piqua Coca-Cola Bottling Company, owned by the Lange family, was located on the downtown square at the northeast corner of Main and High streets. It produced its signature product along with Sprite, Tab and Fresca in glass bottles for the Upper Miami Valley while metal canned versions were shipped in from a plant in Speedway, Indiana. It was later purchased by the Dayton Coca-Cola Bottling Company in the mid-1970s. However, the increased demand for Coke products in two liter plastic bottles and cans led to the aging local plant's unfeasibility, and it was closed down and razed by the end of the decade. A newer bottling plant now exists in Huber Heights. A statue of pilot Don Gentile now stands at the site of the defunct plant. Alisha Lange, great- granddaughter of the plant's owner Frank Lange, has photographs of the plant from this decade.

The Val Decker Packing Company, which operated until 1981 was a local producer of hams, hot dogs, other meats and lard under the tagline "Piquality." The large red steel cans which contained the lard product is now a much sought-after collector's item. The building which housed the meat packing plant was renovated in 1987 and is now home to the Piqua Board of Education and several small businesses.

Due to the prosperity of past industry in the city of Piqua, much of the area surrounding downtown contains large mansions and homes. Most notable is the Leo Flesh Mansion, built in the Chateauesque style, it looms over many of the surrounding buildings in the neighborhood. There is a "sister" house in Dayton, Ohio, designed by the same architect.

Piqua's shopping mall, Miami Valley Centre Mall, opened in 1988 and was renovated in the mid-1990s. Its anchor stores include JC Penney, Elder Beerman, and Sears. Miami Valley Crossing (formerly Piqua East Mall, opened in 1970) was redesigned and updated in the late 1990s as a plaza with anchor stores, Big Lots, Wal-Mart, Jo-Ann Fabrics, El Sombrero Restaurant, and The Home Depot.

Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants is set in Piqua, Ohio. Piqua was chosen because an "Underwear Festival" was held there every year.

Top employers[edit]

According to Piqua's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[11] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Industry Products Company 351
2 Walmart 345
3 Piqua City Schools 316
4 Evenflo 285
5 Tailwind Technologies/Hartzell Propeller 268
6 Crane Pumps & Systems 240
7 Upper Valley JVS 235
8 City of Piqua 195
9 Edison Community College 160
10 Jackson Tube Service 160

Arts and culture[edit]

Two local festivals are held downtown. Taste of The Arts, attracting area artists, local restaurants and tourists alike is held yearly in May. The other is Christmas On The Green, also held yearly at the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. The Piqua Heritage Festival, held since 1981, is a yearly event held at the site of the Col. John Johnston farm (also known as Piqua Historical Area) on Labor Day weekend which draws historians, Native American tribes, and tourists. A restored segment of the Miami-Erie Canal is also located on the site north of the city off State Route 66.


The Piqua City School District operates four elementary schools, three middle schools, a junior high school, and Piqua High School.[citation needed]Piqua is also home to the Upper Valley Career Center. Piqua is also home to several private schools, including Piqua Catholic School, the Piqua Seventh Day Adventist School, and the Nicholas School.[12]

Piqua schools compete in the Greater Western Ohio Conference (GWOC) North Division (Piqua, Troy, Trotwood, Vandalia, Sidney). Piqua High School's rivals are the Trojans from Troy, Ohio, a community about five miles (8 km) south. The following sports are available at Piqua High School: Football, Men's/Women's Basketball, Men's/Women's Soccer, Men's/Women's Tennis, Volleyball, Bowling, Golf, Baseball, Softball, Men's/Women's Cross Country, Track and Field, Wrestling, Swimming, Cheerleading, Show Choir, and Gymnastics. Piqua High School Show Choir "The Company" won numerous Grand Championships. The Piqua High School football team was also named the Division II state champions for the 2006 season.[13]


Piqua is home to Edison Community College. Edison opened a new, 35,671-square-foot (3,313.9 m2) addition to its campus during 2007, completed by The Collaborative Inc., architects, landscape architects and interior designers in Toledo. The new building, the Regional Center of Excellence (RCE), is an academic and student life center. The RCE houses classrooms, seminar rooms, library/learning center, cybercafe, and a multi-function lobby.

The Regional Center of Excellence won an AIA Ohio Honor award.

The college has a satellite location in Darke County.


The city and surrounding areas are served by a daily newspaper based in Piqua, the Piqua Daily Call.

Notable people[edit]


External links[edit]