Spring Destinations in Ohio

Catch Some Colorful Catfish

(And More) In Steubenville

Situated on the Ohio River in eastern Ohio, Steubenville boasts of its history, music, and culture…and now, giant painted catfish can be added to its list of assets.

Created by the Steubenville Cultural Trust (the same people who made the popular Steubenville Nutcracker Village), the Catfish Crawl is a display of ten five-foot-tall fiberglass catfish uniquely painted by local artists and placed around the downtown. Each has a theme and special features with details that people will be asked to find as part of a contest. It is the second year of this river-themed attraction, and it will run from July 1 to September 1, 2024. Maps, information, and tasty treats will be available at Leonardo’s Coffeehouse on N. 4th Street.

The Ohio River is part of Steubenville’s history and appears in one of the City of Murals’ 23 public artworks depicting important American and Ohio events and people. Besides the huge River Reflections mural, you’ll see Fleetwood Walker (the first professional African American baseball player), Edwin Stanton with President Lincoln, and Ohio’s own “Sloopy” as you stroll through town. Many people like to stop at the nearby Antique Warehouse to reminisce through displays of vintage collectibles and possibly purchase a well-crafted treasure.

Steubenville was named for Fort Steuben, an 18th-century American military base that housed the 1st American Regiment as it protected the surveyors of the Northwest Territory at the beginning of the country’s westward expansion. The reconstructed Historic Fort Steuben on its original site welcomes visitors to tour the eight fully furnished buildings, the adjacent First Federal Land Office, and the exhibits and programs that are part of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.

The Fort is participating in the Ohio 4th Grade History Pass program, allowing 4th-grade students to have free admission when visiting their families. It also is a Blue Star Museum inviting active-duty military personnel and their immediate families to tour free of charge. Be sure to visit June 1 and 2 for the annual Ohio Valley Frontier Days festival, where people, stories, music, and crafts of the early Ohio frontier come to life.

Another popular Steubenville summer event is the Holy Trinity Greek Fest, a reminder of the many ethnic groups that settled in the area. From June 12-14, the sounds of Greek music and the aromas of traditional foods – spanakopita, domaldes and loukoumades – fill the air. Tours of the magnificent church are an added attraction.

Music lives on through the summer with performances by local and regional artists at the Berkman Amphitheater on Thursday evenings at the Fort Steuben Summer Concert Series. And more melodies fill the downtown on First Friday on Fourth where music, art, food, crafts, and activities take over several streets one evening a month. The season opens on May 3rd with a Roaring 20s theme and continues with a medieval theme on June 7th with fencing, folk dancing, and fun, while July 5th celebrates freedom. New eateries and unique shops on 4th Street offer specials for First Fridays as well.

So, if you’re fishing for family fun, be sure to include Steubenville in your summer plans. For more information on these and other attractions in Steubenville and Jefferson County, go to VisitSteubenville.com or call 866-301-1787.

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Brave the Bigfoot GeoTour

Spring is officially here!  After the winter weather has kept us cooped up, it is time to get outside again!  Belmont County offers a free, family-friendly, fun activity with a cryptid twist to get you outdoors and explore the unknown…with the Belmont County Bigfoot GeoTour.

Believe in the unseen, discover the mystery, embrace the adventure, and join an epic quest to find Bigfoot-themed geocache containers, of course! There’s nothing like a good sasquatch hunt – and odds are you’ll have something to show for it with the Belmont County Bigfoot GeoTour. From the scenic Ohio River to a Longhorn cattle ranch, from beautiful parks to historic landmarks, you just never know where you might encounter sasquatch-sized fun as you explore Belmont County. The Bigfoot-themed geocache containers could be hidden anywhere and will allow you to explore the surroundings of Belmont County, which you might have never experienced before. The Belmont County Bigfoot GeoTour (GT4DD) has 20+ geocaches just waiting for you to find and earn a trackable geocoin for those who complete the challenge.

What is Geocaching? It is an outdoor scavenger hunt using GPS-enabled devices, like a smartphone, to locate hidden treasures in plain sight. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache hidden at that location. Geocaching is fun for everyone: families, retirees, sightseers, outdoor adventurers, tech-lovers, and explorers. You never know what you might find hiding in the woods in friendly, beautiful Belmont County!

Want to play? The first thing to do is visit www.geocaching.com or download the official Geocaching app and register for a free account to search for active caches near you. Search by “GeoTour” and enter “GT4DD” to see all geocaches hidden as part of the Belmont County Bigfoot GeoTour. Once you have decided which cache you want to find first, use the coordinates to navigate to the hidden treasure. When you have found the cache, add your name to the logbook inside and copy the unique code. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where you found it.

Looking for even more adventure? While you are out exploring, also complete the Belmont County Bigfoot Adventure Lab and earn a Bigfoot t-shirt, too! Unlike traditional geocaching, Adventure Labs do not require a physical container but can be completed in tandem with the GeoTour. The Adventure Lab app guides players through the process of finding clues, solving puzzles, and completing adventures one location at a time. Learn local trivia, uncover hidden gems, and discover landmarks while exploring around the county. If you’re already a Geocaching member, these count as caches towards your Geocaching account’s statistics and total finds.

Here’s what others who have completed the Belmont County Bigfoot GeoTour had to say: 

“I thought for sure if I was going to find Bigfoot, I would’ve found him here. Dysart Woods is an amazing forest. Love the area. Spent a little bit of time looking around, enjoying the quiet solitude.”

This must be a place where Bigfoot spends considerable time – at least, I would if I were a big, hairy creature who wanted to steer clear of humans! I quickly found another of his “relaxation spots,” with a very distinct and familiar footprint.  A lot of effort was put into this for the community…or maybe, we have someone who just wants us to catch a glimpse of him.” 

“Awesome tour around Belmont County! Loved the historical points of interest. Thank you to everyone for all the hard work and cleverness put into it!”

Now is the perfect time to shake off the winter blues and embark on exciting adventures amidst nature’s blossoming beauty. Whether you’re a seasoned geocacher or a newcomer eager to explore, there’s no better time to explore and uncover hidden gems waiting to be discovered in friendly, beautiful, Belmont County. So, get outside, have some fun, and happy hunting! Seek, search, and have fun in Belmont County while completing the Belmont County Bigfoot GeoTour.

To find out more about the Belmont County Bigfoot GeoTour and all upcoming events happening in Belmont County this spring, check out visitbelmontcounty.com.

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Family Bigfoot Adventures in Ohio

The shaggy mythical beast known as Bigfoot has been rumored to live in Ohio since the mid-1700s, with nearly 40 reported sightings since the mid-1980s alone at Guernsey County’s Salt Fork State Park. Because of these sightings, Guernsey County hosts a number of family-friendly events and destinations perfect for cryptozoologists and skeptics alike.

Those looking for a little nature with their local lore should check out the monthly Bigfoot Night Hikes  (facebook.com/saltforkstatepark). These events allow participants to hike the park trails after dark in search of the legendary Bigfoot. You might even get to see some of the other wildlife that calls Guernsey County home. (During park hours, the lodge gift shop also carries a wonderful array of Bigfoot souvenirs for all ages and enthusiasts!).

Since 2005, the Ohio Bigfoot Conference (ohiobigfootconference.org) has welcomed fans of the furry legend to gather and talk all things Squatch. The Bigfoot Conference takes place annually. This year, it takes place on May 4, 2024, at Salt Fork Lodge & Conference Center. Vendors are onsite (booths are open to the public, not just conference-goers) with books and merchandise for sale.

Looking for more outdoor fun? Run or walk the Bigfoot races at Salt Fork State Park this summer and winter. The Summer Sasquatch 50K, 20 & 10-mile trail races will take place on June 15-16, 2024. These races will challenge you with a 10.4-mile loop course over rolling hills. Hikers are welcome in the 10 Miler – the generous cutoff time allows you to enjoy a supported hike at your own pace. Hikers are welcome in the 10-mile race.

Can’t make it to the summer Sasquatch races? Join in the fun this winter on Dec. 14-15, 2024, for the Bigfoot 50K, 20 & 10-mile trail races. Have your family tag along for an awesome Ohio staycation! Salt Fork Lodge offers great rooms at reasonable prices. Call (740) 439-2751 and request the Bigfoot race discount when making your reservation. Learn more at westernreserveracing.com/races/.

Did You Know bigfoot sightings have been highlighted on The TODAY Show, USA TODAY, Finding Bigfoot, and Monsters & Mysteries in America?

No matter what you’re looking for, Guernsey County, Ohio, has something for Bigfoot enthusiasts – or those looking for an offbeat adventure. More information on popular local events and seasonal Bigfoot events can be found at VisitGuernseyCounty.com.

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Hocking Hills Springs Anew

As Ohio welcomes spring, the Hocking Hills transform into a kaleidoscope of vibrant flora and fauna.  As temperatures rise, the barren trees of winter begin to sprout fresh green leaves, creating a vibrant canopy that dances in the gentle breeze. Once covered in a blanket of snow, the forest floor comes alive with a carpet of dozens of wildflowers, including Trilliums, Violets, Yellow Lady Slippers, Star of Bethlehem, Blue-eyed Mary, and Showy Orchids.

The waterfalls of Hocking Hills undergo a remarkable transformation during the spring season. The increased rainfall and melting snow contribute to higher water levels, causing the waterfalls to cascade with renewed vigor. Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, and Cedar Falls are just a few iconic waterfalls that become even more mesmerizing during this time of the year. The echoes of rushing water and the spray from the falls create a sensory experience that immerses visitors in the beauty and power of nature.

Spring also marks the return of migratory birds to Hocking Hills, adding an audible dimension to the landscape. The songs of warblers, thrushes, and vireos fill the air, creating a symphony that complements the visual feast of blooming wildflowers. Birdwatchers flock to the region to catch glimpses of these feathered travelers as they make their way through the hills and valleys. The diversity of bird species in Hocking Hills makes it a paradise for seasoned birdwatchers and casual enthusiasts.

Mother Nature may be the star of the show, but don’t discount the man-made attractions. From the only Pencil Sharpener Museum in the world to the last remaining washboard manufacturer in the US, there are plenty of quirky attractions to entertain.

Need a little adrenaline rush? Fly through the tree canopy with the original Hocking Hills Zipline adventure. Climb a real rock face and rappel down. Paddle down the historic Hocking River. Try the ancient Japanese process of relaxation, shinnin-yoko, also known as forest bathing. Take a guided hike searching for mushrooms and other edibles found in the forest. Learn about butterflies along the Hocking Hills Butterfly Trail.

Visit historic downtown Logan, the hometown of Hocking Hills. Visitors will find an assortment of boutiques, eateries, and entertainment. The Logan Theater & Community Arts Center is being renovated and will host movies and live performances beginning in 2025. The new Hocking Hills Children’s Museum opened in January offering hands-on experiences for the child in all. New eateries, a boutique hotel, and family-friendly festivals are all part of the Logan experience.

Last year, the City of Logan adopted a DORA, Downtown Outdoor Recreation Area, in the historic district. Now, festival-goers can enjoy their favorite adult beverage while attending one-of-a-kind festivals. Historic downtown Logan hosts the Logan Frozen Festival in January, UrbanAir/Wake Up Downtown Airstream campout in May, the Washboard Music Festival in June, the Big Foot Festival in August, the Jack-o-Lantern Jubilee in October, and the Annual Logan Christmas Parade in December.

The quintessential Hocking Hills experience must include a stay in one of hundreds of cabins. These are not rustic cabins. They vary from elegantly appointed cabins for two to luxury lodges large enough to accommodate a group. Most come with hot tubs, and many also feature game rooms, fireplaces, and in-ground swimming pools. For a truly unique experience, rent a treehouse, yurt, or geodome. If camping is preferred, award-winning campgrounds are offering full hook-ups as well as primitive campsites. Ohio’s newest State Park Lodge opened in 2022. The Hocking Hills State Park Lodge & Conference Center is just south of Old Man’s Cave. It features lodge rooms with balconies overlooking the dramatic landscape, fine dining, indoor and outdoor pools, and breathtaking outdoor spaces to gather with friends.

As the days grow longer and the temperatures become more inviting, spring in Hocking Hills invites everyone to embrace the outdoors and appreciate the beauty that surrounds them. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll through a wildflower-filled meadow, an exhilarating hike along a waterfall-laden trail, or a peaceful moment spent birdwatching, spring in Hocking Hills offers an unparalleled connection to nature’s wonders. It’s a season of renewal, growth, and awe-inspiring beauty that captivates the senses and leaves a lasting impression on all who have the privilege of experiencing it. Begin your adventure at ExploreHockingHills.com.

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2024 Sweets & Spirits Trail

To Begin Your Journey

Welcome to the sweetest and most spirited journey through Miami County! Get ready to indulge in the region’s finest treats and libations as you explore the 2024 Miami County Sweets & Spirits Trail. Whether you’re a local foodie or a curious traveler, prepare to satisfy your cravings and discover the irresistible flavors of Miami County!

This trail is a great way to explore Miami County and find some of your favorite things, like candy and cocktails, cookies and craft beer, or even brownies and bourbon and new this year, ice cream! Visit any of the 20+ locations along the trail and earn points towards amazing prizes. Earn even more points by taking advantage of discounts at select locations!

The Miami County Sweets and Spirits Trail takes visitors around the county to experience local bakeries, candy shops, and ice cream shops filled with childhood favorites, as well as local wineries, distilleries, and craft beer breweries. This trail is mobile-exclusive and tracks visitors’ visits and purchases directly on their smartphones.

This is one trail you won’t want to miss out on, so


to start your journey

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Ohio’s Only UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks  

UNESCO named Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks as a World Heritage Site. It is the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Ohio. There are only about two dozen sites recognized by UNESCO in America. Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are a multi-part World Heritage Site spread over eight locations.

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Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks

named as Ohio’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Ethiopia at the Crossroads

1,750 years of artistic traditions

Traverse 1,750 years of Ethiopia’s artistic traditions and experience the nation’s rich history, cultural heritage, and global impact in “Ethiopia at the Crossroads,” on view August 17  -November 10, 2024, at the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA).

The first United States exhibition of its kind in nearly five decades features 220 works that situate Ethiopian art globally. It emphasizes the nation’s influence that reached east via the Arabian Sea and extended north through the Red Sea, Nile River, and Mediterranean Sea. As the bridge between Africa, Europe, and Asia, Ethiopia’s mark is vast, with a scope of artistic and religious influence that remains today.

“‘Ethiopia at the Crossroads’ invites visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty and artistry that saturated Ethiopia for centuries and permeated other parts of the world,” said Adam Levine, TMA’s Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey director and CEO. “The works on view introduce the often-overlooked cultural significance of Ethiopia and trace many current artistic and faith practices to the only African nation to never be colonized. TMA looks forward to presenting this exhibition that honors Ethiopia’s historical impact and vibrant present.”

TMA pairs over a millennium of devotional painted icons, manuscripts, coins, textiles, metalwork, and carved wood crosses with contemporary works that reflect the evolution of Ethiopian artistry. Among the works are TMA’s recent acquisitions of Ethiopian artwork from the Middle Ages to today, including an important Ethiopian icon that dates to about 1500. The icon’s exterior features a vibrant painting of Saints Anne and Joachim, the Virgin Mary’s parents. Inside, a posthumous royal portrait of Ethiopian King Lalibela and his wife Masqal Kibra appears opposite a depiction of Saint Mercurius on horseback. Such icons were integral parts of the Christian liturgy in Ethiopia.

Works that showcase Ge’ez emphasize Ethiopia’s connection to the South Arabian Peninsula across the Red Sea. The classical Ethiopic written language based on South Arabian script, demonstrated by TMA’s South Arabian alabaster, appears in painted icons alongside Wosene Worke Kosrof’s “Wax and Gold X.” The contemporary artist uses the Ge’ez alphabet and the Amharic language that descended from Ge’ez as the foundation for his abstract composition.

The nation’s evolution is represented in the cloak of Haile Selassie I (1892-1975), the last Ethiopian emperor (1903-1974), who is revered as a deity in Rastafarianism. Many consider him the Second Coming of Jesus and Jah in human form, and the religion is named for Selassie’s pre-regnal title, “Ras Tafari Makonnen.” Gold and sequins adorn the black velvet garment and honor the emperor who made strides to modernize the country with political and social reform. Just one year into his reign, he introduced the country’s first written constitution. “Ethiopia at the Crossroads” marks the cloak’s museum debut.

Helina Metaferia’s work is patterned after the headdresses Ethiopian empresses wore and expresses the American fight for civil rights in “Headdress 6” (2019) and “Headdress 23” (2021). Both works feature African American women wearing headdresses, comprised of photographs from the Civil Rights Movement, including images from Black Panther newspapers. Metaferia is a child of Ethiopian immigrants who was born in Washington, D.C.

Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian’s “The End of the Beginning” (1972-1973) illustrates Lalibela and Aksum, both historical sites in Ethiopia, being destroyed by fire. While a white bird stands as a witness and survivor of the destruction, a spirit figure represents a past that wants to escape the horror of the present. Boghossian was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, studied in Europe, and came to the United States in 1970. After returning to Ethiopia once in 1972, Boghossian remained in the United States after the 1974 revolution in Ethiopia prevented him from returning.

Theo Eshetu’s “Brave New World II” is one of a handful of contemporary works that bring a digital component to the exhibition. The multimedia and video installation invites viewers worldwide with footage of John F. Kennedy International Airport and the Statue of Liberty in New York City, an Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany, an Italian insurance commercial, and dancers in Bali. Using a mirrored box, the artist ensures that the images take the form of a globe. Eshetu, born in London to Ethiopian and Dutch parents and raised in Senegal, uses the work to communicate how technology has connected people and transformed how everyone experiences the world. The work is named after Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel, set in a future where technology heavily influences society.

Visitors to ‘Ethiopia at the Crossroads’ will be able to immerse themselves in the country — the place and its culture. The exhibition celebrates historic makers and objects and their impact on contemporary artists from Ethiopia and the diaspora who, excitingly, are increasingly visible on the global stage. By exploring Ethiopian artistic practice and exchange from antiquity to now, it becomes clear that many of the country’s centuries-old traditions remain alive and influential today.

Admission to the Museum is always free. It is located at 2445 Monroe St., one block off I-75, and is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm and 11 am to 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. More information is available at 419-255-8000 and toledomuseum.org.

A Smokey Walkabout

Enjoy the latest story from the blog,
“Wrong Turns Write Life”

Tucked deep in the Arts & Crafts district of Gatlinburg, we unpacked while marveling at the skyline of mountains piercing the low blanket of marshmallow clouds. Did someone say wine and a hot tub? I did after my wife got a case of the giggles rummaging through my backpack for something but found pepper spray, bowie knife, snake bite kit, air horn, whistle, bells – oh, and a machete.

She couldn’t stop laughing and mocking me.

A little defensive, I felt compelled to explain my survival tools. The snake bite kit was self-explanatory. It may surprise you that the knife and machete weren’t for bear encounters. Rather, they were reserved for the psychopath roaming the Appalachian Trail. As the Boy Scouts say, Be prepared! For the bear, I figured I’d use my blow horn to scare it away or pepper spray if it got too close.

Snow fell with darkness as we read about prospective trails by firelight to explore at daybreak.

After we left Rainbow Falls and the tourists, we only saw one other person on the ascent to summit Mount LeConte. A ranger suggested we backtrack a bit to see a spectacular overlook. Our legs and feet were yearning for the summit and rest. But a view as he described prevailed. Although the detour wasn’t that far, all said, it was far enough to hear my feet bark at me, “Why-whyy-whyyy…”

The swaths of greenery to our sides, stepping stones at our feet, and canopy above all rose together to a blue sky at the end of nature’s tunnel. It was a remarkable visual. Thank goodness film is obsolete because we would have used all we had here. Afterward, we walked and talked, “This one or that one?” Delete. “This one or that one?” Delete. “This one or that one?” Decide later. “This one or that one?” Both.

Just a couple hundred feet from the summit was LeConte Lodge. This rustic batch of weathered wooden shacks, a small provisions store, and a quaint lodge served hikers energy by the pound. It was an unusual sight but welcome. The shacks provided the essentials; a roof over a bed and a tiny porch to strum an acoustic guitar. The panoramic view made us wish we had a reservation to spend the night.

Ironically, the question of the hour was, “Are you staying the night?” Most people spend the day hiking up and another day hiking down. We were the fools who thought we could do both on the same day. We contemplated the time it would take for our descent down a different path called Bull Run. The daylight hours were slipping away.

We topped off our water supply and checked out the store. I asked where I could find a restroom, and the extremely friendly lady in the store pointed the directions. I followed them until I was inside someone’s shack. It was a little embarrassing. Tripping over myself, I scrambled one more row and found the potty shack. They all looked the same, except this one had a toilet.

We chatted with other hikers when it dawned on me that I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a non-friendly person on a trail. The irony of my machete sticking me in the back didn’t strike me then.

Relatively rejuvenated, we began down Bull Head. My shin splints and footaches quickly said, remember me – still here!

It was just my wife and I, so I started complaining about my aching this and aching that. About an hour into the one-track conversation, I realized what she was thinking of me, so I spent the next hour trying to rationalize it. She had fun with me the whole time …at my expense.

She was the daughter of a podiatrist and said it’s my hiking shoes causing the problem.

Bull Head Trail was a backwoods paradise. Not a soul was on it except us. The trailside scenery and mountain ledge views made me think of becoming a mountain man – until I took my next step, muzzling my agonizing pain.

“I hurt too, but I just don’t complain about it,” she said, sarcasm dripping from the corners of her grin.

“Bear droppings.”

I moved my pepper spray and air horn to where I could easily grab them from the sides of my backpack.

My wife wasn’t convinced, but I saw more and more as we walked. We were definitely tracking a bear down this desolate path in early spring when I imagined they were especially hungry.

“What do I need to prove it – a bear?” I said in frustration.

“If you see one, just know that while you fumble with your weapons, I’ll be running the other way,” she joked …at least I thought she was joking. “Outrunning you shouldn’t be difficult, considering you’re limping on bloody stumps to hear you go on about it.”

So, this was our memorable adventure. When we hit bottom, literally and figuratively – speaking for myself of course – my mind had prepared for the car to be right there. But it was miles away, so we had to trek another trail to get where we started just as night closed in on us. Finally, she even complained of her aches and pains and said we pushed our limits too far (14 miles of mountain hiking from dawn to dusk). We were slap-happy, laughing as if delirious, going on about our sore muscles and joints.

A funny thing happens when you walk up and down a mountain, as we did for an entire day, and then suddenly stop. And by stop, I mean put our feet in the car and drive. When we put our feet back down in a restaurant parking lot, joints like knees didn’t function like the brain intended. We both waddled into the restaurant, determined to feast as a reward for our stupendous journey.

On our way out, having nothing alcoholic to drink, two people wanted to get us a ride so we wouldn’t drive. Our bodies and minds were pretty rubbery, and it was clearly no secret. We clutched each other to avoid collapsing, laughing hysterically at our failing bodies, saying, “Naw, naw, we got this.”

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun! 

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“Wrong Turns Write Life”

Cathedral of Steam

An Age of Steam Dream Turned Reality

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum is the culmination of one Jerry Joe Jacobson’s undying love of steam locomotives, the old, smoky machines of a bygone era. Mr. Jacobson caught steam in his blood at a very young age, growing up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio during the last few years of steam operations on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in that area. He would always ride his bicycle down to the local B&O railyard to see the great, black giants chug in and out, with freight cars loaded with many goods to be delivered to Cleveland and other destinations. On one particular hike through the train yard, a friendly engineer invited a young Mr. Jacobson up into the cab of their steam locomotive, and the future railroader and Museum founder held onto that memory for the rest of his life.

Mr. Jacobson went on to enter the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and was trained as a nurse anesthetist, administering anesthesia to patience for various medical procedures. He continued that practice after his military career, saving every penny he had until he could start purchasing his own railroad equipment and trackage to build his dream railroad. Mr. Jacobson’s Ohio Central Railroad started with a cast-off Wheeling & Lake Erie line, running between Zanesville and Brewster, OH, and it later grew into a larger, successful shortline system that spanned over 500 miles throughout the eastern portion of Ohio and stretched into western Pennsylvania. While the, usually, diesel-powered freight trains were what brought in the money, his passion remained with steam. Starting in 1989, summertime steam excursions began running on the Ohio Central, running from downtown Sugarcreek, OH to Baltic and return. Mr. Jacobson’s steam fleet grew and grew as his railroad brought in more revenue, amassing an already impressive collection of both operational and non-operational steam locomotives before he ultimately canceled all regular excursion operations after 2004. He later went on to sell the Ohio Central to the Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Company in 2008, maintaining ownership of only his collection of historic steam locomotives, several older diesel locomotives, and a small fleet of historic rolling stock. In conjunction with the sale of the Ohio Central to G&W, Mr. Jacobson was making plans to construct a facility to house his entire collection, a structure whose kind had not been constructed new in the U.S. for decades.

A roundhouse is a railroad building that is constructed around a central turntable, and such facilities were utilized on every major and minor railroad that employed even a moderately sized fleet of steam locomotives. They were built specifically to accommodate the maintenance of steam locomotives and were used from the mid-1800s until the end of the steam era. No such facility had been constructed in the United States since the 1950s, and, at that point, some roundhouses were already being demolished as the more cost-effective and fuel-efficient diesel locomotives took over. Mr. Jacobson had always dreamed of having such a facility to house his collection but did not have the time to devote resources to such an endeavor while he was running the Ohio Central. He had a small locomotive shop built at Morgan Run, just east of Coshocton, OH, where his heritage fleet was restored and serviced. Still, there was not much room to hide his ever-expanding collection of steam locomotives from the forces of nature. With the sale of the Ohio Central finalized and Genesee & Wyoming assuming ownership of the Morgan Run shop, Mr. Jacobson could devote all his newfound time and resources to his new big project, what would later be called the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum.

After purchasing a large, vacant cornfield on Smokey Lane Road (a rather appropriate road name) in 2008, Mr. Jacobson began constructing his brick-and-mortar “Cathedral of Steam.” The track, locomotive shop, and roundhouse were completed by 2010, allowing the transport of the entire collection of historic railroad equipment to the new, 18-stall roundhouse and grounds. More construction continued, but Mr. Jacobson finally had a place where he could safely store his collection and display it to visitors. In the early days, tours were composed of just friends and family. Now, the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum, fully open to the public since 2019, offers regular tours from April through November on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The tours run approximately 90 minutes through the entire Roundhouse, showcasing the steam locomotives, the restoration shop, and the Museum’s 115ft. operational turntable.

If you want to see this amazing collection of railroad history, please visit our website at www.ageofsteamroundhouse.org to purchase tickets for a tour!

By Daniel Condo