The history of Piqua can be traced back to the earliest Paleo-Indian bands that hunted the mastodon and the giant bison in the Upper Miami Valley. Other groups followed, developing civilizations such as the Adena, Hopewell and Fort Ancient cultures that built stone and earthwork monuments, burials and villages. These prehistoric peoples were followed by two dominant Native American tribes, the Miami and the Shawnee. While little remains of these two groups, they did provide the area with their names. From the Miami or Twightee (“cry of the crane”) came the name for the Great Miami River. The creation myth of the Piqua Clan of the Shawnee resulted in the naming of Piqua meaning “man who arose from the ashes.”
The first European American Settlers arrived at the site of Piqua in 1797 and a new village was laid out 10 years later. Growth came slowly until the Miami and Erie Canal reached Piqua in 1837. The community grew even more rapidly with the arrival of the railroads in 1854 and 1856. During the last half of the 19th century, new industries and technological innovation became the city’s watchwords.
Linseed production, furniture, and carriage manufacturing, brewing, printing and patent medicine were allimportant parts of the community’s economic prosperity. New industries such as the Favorite Stove & Range Company and the Piqua Hosiery Company helped fuel Piqua’s advances that included telephones (1882), electric lights (1883), electric streetcars (1890), indoor plumbing (1891), and a public hospital (1905).
During the first half of the 20th century, Piqua weathered two world wars and the Great Depression because of its diverse and stable economic base. During both World Wars, Wood Shovel & Tool Company contributed army entrenching tools and the city’s two largest underwear firms shipped out tens of thousands of pairs of GI issued undergarments. Lear Avia, Robbins & Myers, Hartzell Propeller and Meteor Motor Car companies manufactured vital World War II aviation equipment.
After the second World War, Piqua turned to new technologies and began producing electrical components, submersible pumps, prefabricated homes, plastic molds and sheeting, and children’s plastic safety seating. Technology played a part in community improvements such as the municipally owned and operated nuclear power plant (1963-1966) and the construction of Interstate 75, which reached Piqua in 1958.
Education was a prime factor in the city’s late 20th century development with the establishment of the Upper Valley Joint Vocational School in 1975, Edison Community College in 1976, and a new high school in 1981. The community also regained its status as a retail hub with the construction of the enclosed Piqua East Mall in 1969 and the Miami Valley Centre Mall in 1988.
Today, Piqua continues to expand and adapt to new challenges as it leads the way into the 21st century.