Living in Dover > History > The History of Dover

The History of Dover

Dover became a rail stop in 1854.

Dover's first schoolhouse was constructed in 1827 in a forested area on the south side of Fourth Street (near the cemetery). There was a separate Negro School on W. Front Street until 1917, at which time Dover's school system was fully integrated.

Dover's Water Works was established in 1898 on what is now the site of the Dover Light Plant. It moved to 17th Street in 1935. Because the water supply is so clean, Dover's water remained untreated in any way until 1998, at which time a state-of-the-art treatment facility began operation, and was the last city east of the Mississippi River to sterilize its water before distribution.

Dover made a far-reaching move in 1898 when voters approved a $5,000 bond issue for the construction of an electric-generating plant. It would be a few more years before the light plant became a reality. In 1935, submarine cables were laid under the river. As part of a major rebuild by the Public Works Administration (WPA) in 1938, a 400-pound pressure boiler was installed. In 1945, the Dover Dam was built on the Tuscarawas River to maintain water level. Today, the light plant includes fiber optic cable in its list of up-to-the-minute improvements. Today, after expansions and changes, this facility serves over 6,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers.

Dover's Fire Department was organized in the 1870's.

Dover voters took the city "dry" in 1908, putting 22 saloons and two breweries out of business overnight. Dover became somewhat infamous during prohibition for official Volstead Act violations and many officials resigned in disgust. The city again allowed the sale of liquor after repeal of prohibition in 1933.

A coal strike in 1920 closed all steel operations for a grueling 13 months.

It became legal for Dover movie theatres to show movies on Sundays in 1930.

Dover's steel mills, along with manufacturing facilities nationwide, converted their operations to help the stateside effort to supply the armed forces during World War II. Women employed during wartime at Reeves Steel made shell casings. On January 23, 1943, an airplane carrying leaflets for a war bond drive crashed in Dover, killing three, including a 12-year-old boy.

Dover's city building was remodeled in 1957, and the bell tower was removed. Today, the bell can be seen in front of the Utility Office on Third Street.

A downtown renovation project in 1981 provided beautiful trees and winding sidewalks, with new, attractive street lighting.

Famous Dover natives include master woodcarver Ernest "Mooney" Warther, who is fondly remembered peddling his bicycle around Dover, helping children look for spear points in local fields, and providing a good story or two. Dover is home to the Warther Museum, which is an excellent look at Warther's greatest works, including amazingly intricate locomotives. Dover also is the birthplace of playwright Elliot Nugent (1899-1980), and Rear Admiral Herald F. Stout (1903-1987), for whom the U.S.S. Stout was named. Admiral Stout is interred at Dover Burial Park. An infamous native is Civil War guerilla leader William Clark Quantrill (who is buried at Fourth St. Cemetery).

The City of Dover celebrated its bicentennial in 2007. A fireworks display, festival and other events helped mark the celebration as one of the largest and most successful events in the city's history.

Each year, Dover is the host of many events celebrating its rich history. The Canal Days Festival fills downtown with families, music and other entertainment during the Memorial Day weekend. 

The history of Dover not only tells the story of the city, but also of the United States of America. Each generation since Dover's inception represents the perseverance that has made our country great.