Fort Thomas is a 3rd-class city in Campbell County, Kentucky, on the southern bank of the Ohio River and the site of an 1890 US Army post. The population was 16,325 at the 2010 census, making it the largest city in Campbell County and it is officially part of the Cincinnati – Northern Kentucky metropolitan area.
Evidence suggests that on or around 1749, prior to settlement by Europeans, a large battle occurred between a band of Cherokee Native Americans and victorious Miami tribe and Shawnee tribe Native Americans in what is now the city of Fort Thomas. As many as 600 graves of slain warriors have been unearthed by archeologists there; although the battleground area has been thoroughly combed for artifacts and remains over the years, it is still not uncommon to find arrowheads and other artifacts from the past while gardening or hiking the woods and streambeds throughout the City.
In 1887, a site was needed to house a United States Army post to replace Newport Barracks located in the adjoining city of Newport, Kentucky. Built in 1803, Newport Barracks replaced the smaller Fort Washington, located across the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Ohio. That army post was located at the junction of the Licking and Ohio Rivers. Prone to flooding and flooded numerous times during the early 1880s, a new less flood prone location.
The area has many remnants of this era with a high Stone Water Tower as a familiar landmark which stands at the entrance to Tower Park. It was the 16th structure built on the grounds of the Military Reservation. It encloses a standpipe which has a capacity of 100,000 gallons, pumped from the Water District reservoirs just across South Fort Thomas Avenue. In 1890 when the military base was established, such provisions for water supply was necessary as there was no other water tower in this area. Cannons that were captured in Cuba's Havana Harbor during the Spanish-American War rest on stone platforms in front of the Tower. The dates marked on these cannons, reflecting the date they were made in Barcelona, Spain, are "1768" and "1769."
General Philip Sheridan personally selected of the city and dubbed the area the Highlands, predicting it to become the "West Point of the West." The new post was named Fort Thomas in honor of General George Henry Thomas.
Samuel Woodfill was transferred to the Fort Thomas Army post in 1912. He married Lorena Wiltshire on Christmas Day in 1917 and they purchased a house near the fort. In World War I he was courageous, leading his men against the Germans. His bravery earned him many medals and awards and he was described as the most decorated soldier of the war. In civilian life, however, he struggled to pay his bills. He was unsuccessful at creating an orchard, and worked as a carpenter, a watchman and a guard. His wife died in March, 1942, but two months later, the Army commissioned Woodfill and another World War I hero, Alvin C. York as Majors to build morale and promote enlistments. Woodfill retired again in 1944, but memories of his wife in Fort Thomas caused him to return to Indiana, where he was born.
On February 25, 1937, Paul Tibbets enlisted here as a flying cadet in the United States Army Air Corps. During the last days of World War II, Paul became known as the pilot that dropped the first Atomic Bomb on August 6, 1945.