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LuminUS: Stories About Us
Rating: NR

Zoar Levee: To Preserve and Protect

History is alive in the small Tuscarawas County village of Zoar, from the horses that still carry passengers through the town to the meticulously restored historic buildings.

Zoar was founded in 1817 by about 300 German religious dissenters. They purchased 5,000 acres of land in eastern Ohio and started building a communal society, with everyone contributing to the good of all villagers.

Now mainly a tourism destination, Zoar is fighting a natural adversary—water. A levee built in the 1930s was intended to preserve the village. Now evidence shows that the levee has the potential of failing, which could be disasterous for this community that is steeped in rich history.

There are essentially three courses of action to address the problem:

  • Fix the levee, at an estimated cost of $100 million
  • Move the village out of harm’s way
  • Destroy the village following purchase of it by the federal government


In ZOAR LEVEE: TO PRESERVE AND PROTECT, PBS Western Reserve documents the historical significance and beauty of the village. The production also investigates the levee dilemma and how community members and the federal government are addressing it.


A PBS Western Reserve production, 2012.