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Shelburne Films


Music CD      Video Tapes & DVDs      Teacher Edition    Historians Interviewed    Chapter Descriptions 


Teacher Edition Now Available!

WOUB-TV and Shelburne Films present an Award Winning historical documentary:

"Opening the Door West"


This feature length historical documentary is the story of the Ohio Company of Associates, a group of Revolutionary War officers and soldiers, and how, in 1788, they first opened the door for westward expansion of the new United States.  At Marietta, Ohio, they began the first legal, organized American settlement in the old Northwest Territory.
When Rufus Putnam and his band of New Englanders stepped onto the Ohio shore to establish the town of Marietta, they were about to begin one of the most important, and yet little known, chapters in American history.  Their landing spot at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers, was on the edge of America's wildest frontier. Their undertaking was, indeed, of epic proportions.

Campus Martius was the civilian fortification built by the Ohio Company to house settlers until they could move out to their newly purchased land.  It was constructed of four inch thick sawn planks.  It was a magnificent building and a very spectacular sight to wilderness travelers. 

The Fort Harmar Treaty signing in January 1789 took place in the Council House on the grounds of the fort.  The Eastern Woodlands Indians, including Shawnee, Delaware, Miami, Wyandotte, Pottawatomie and others were quite colorful and unique in their style of dress; they made a treaty with the white settlers, but it would not last.  The great Indian War (1791-95) would change everything.
Besides Marietta, the Ohio Company established two additional settlements in the second year.  One of them was Belle Prairie, today's Belpre, situated in a lush river bottom where the best farmers lived.  The fortified compound on the riverbank was known as "Farmer's Castle."  In the Ohio River in front is Captain Devoll's famous "floating mill."  A water wheel was mounted between two boats which were anchored in the river and the current turned the wheel.  This served as the first grist mill.  (Continue to more scenes of the settlement.)

VIEW a 6 minute preview via Windows Media Player

To view  the preview via QuickTime, click here.


The 2 hour program is divided into 11 chapters.  Click for chapter descriptions.


   NEWS!   "Opening the Door West" has received 4 prestigious international awards!

   Read News Release

View more scenes from the film.  Also, behind the scenes production photos.
View a 6-minute Preview of "Opening The Door West" in QuickTime
See  "new photographs” of  the Ohio Company’s pioneer settlements.
View a Panorama of Marietta, Williamstown and Fort Harmar from "The Point."
  "Music of an Emerging Nation"


MUSIC CD (62 min.)

Carefully researched and directed by Nikos Pappas, this is a treasure trove of early American music from the period 1751 to 1820.  This CD is truly representative of the diverse music heard during our nation's founding years.   Learn more.



This 2-hour feature documentary was produced by Shelburne Films in association with WOUB-TV, Athens, Ohio, with major support provided by Ohio University and the Ohio Bicentennial Commission.

"Opening the Door West" aired on all Ohio PBS television stations in the fall of 2003 as part of the Ohio Bicentennial celebration. 

News media editors: online press kit.   Go to and click on the QuickTime logo.


                                                                     Copyright © Shelburne Films Oct 2003    Hit Counter