In the central Ohio Valley, the most important remaining wetland is a 2500-acre spread of level river bottom farmland on the shore of the Ohio River, know as the Oxbow. The Oxbow is a broad floodplain where the Great Miami River empties into the Ohio. This area where three states – Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky – come together, is near Lawrenceburg, Indiana, seventeen miles downstream from Cincinnati. It is named for a small horseshoe, or oxbow-shaped lake, formed when flood waters cut a new course for the Great Miami River, isolating a meander in the old stream bed.
In the summer of 1985, political and business leaders announced plans to create a major new port authority and build a 700-acre commercial barge shipping center on this floodplain. To some, the idea seemed to make economic sense. But others knew that the Oxbow area was already serving well in its natural state. Conservationists had now been alerted to the fact that the Oxbow area might no longer be safe from development unless they made serious concerted effort to protect it. Their determination led to the birth of Oxbow, Inc., which rapidly became one of the more active and successful conservation groups in the Ohio Valley.