Historic Roscoe Village in Coshocton, Ohio
JOURNEY TO HISTORIC CANAL TOWN
Popular Port is Pulling Out All The Stops
Roscoe Village was a vibrant center of commerce along the legendary Ohio & Erie Canal. Forty years ago, it was brought back to life. Today, visitors can ride the canal just like their traveling counterparts back in the 1830s on their way to the streets of a vibrant canal town and all its dressings.
The famous port town is now known as Historic Roscoe Village. As soon as its guests step foot onto the red brick ways, they are pulled in different directions. Some come just to relax in the many beautiful gardens, some enjoy the living history journey back in time, others thrive on the original shops, and everyone marvels at the dining atmospheres and specialty dishes. Roscoe Village is a fully-functional town that basks in its history, yet entertains the interests of today. Special events fill the calendar, hands-on activities abound, and for those that really want to get lost in relaxation and Yesteryear, there’s a variety of lodging accommodations.
Throughout the town, you see trendy shoppers and costumed canal era interpreters mingling along the streets and in the shops. Bicyclists frequent the streetscapes stopping for ice cream or a shade tree. Tour groups snake in and out of historic buildings for the hands-on experiences. Roscoe Village has always had a charm about it that attracts children, seniors and young women on a girls’ day out. There’s that much to see, do and enjoy.
The journey begins for most at the visitors’ center. It is there that sleeves are rolled up and work begins. All ages are welcome to try their hand at candle dipping, making rope, punching tin and crafting other bygone creations. A guide in period dress provides insight to the forgotten lifestyles of the town during the era long past. They demonstrate their skill at the work stations and provide punchy presentations filled with information, wit and personality.
Through the gardens and down the road past a few historical homes, is a blacksmith’s shop. The rather large, rickety, old, red barn is dark inside but the tools of the blacksmith and his work station are strangely illuminated perfectly by the window light. Let the pounding begin. The black smith on duty will hammer and bend iron into just about anything the mind can imagine.
A few shops down, there’s a building where brooms are made. A demonstration shows the strange old machines and techniques for making one of the most used tools of the 1800s. The tour guide may have a little known tale or two such as coaxing a spectator to jump over the broom stick on the floor followed by a bellowing – “Now we’re married.” Details are explained on site.
Moving on, all aspects of life are explored including the doctor’s office where an exam is given, another stop is made to make a bucket, and a little house with huge looms go into action weaving. One of the more fun, interactive moments comes in the old schoolhouse where kids of all ages get to experience something they know – school. Don’t misbehave or you’ll experience something unknown in today’s classrooms – a ruler on the knuckles!
Around lunchtime, and dinner too, the streets lure the hungry into the historic brick and stone eateries and fine dining houses. One of which is The Warehouse Steak n Stein. This architectural gem is smack in the middle of the village and, in the 1830s, was the Mill Store and main docking point for the village along the canal. Its lower level is P.R. Nyes Lock Twenty-Seven, which is accented by the canal’s original stone walls.
An after dinner glass of wine or cup of coffee can be had at Uncorked Wine & Coffee Bar. With more than 200 different types of wine, it’s a full-service bar and features hot and cold gourmet coffees. Many find a great place to relax is on the patio, in shade, listening to jazz or blues music.
Walking off a bite to eat is an easy thing to do in Roscoe Village. The charming shops are diverse and unique. Visitors often hit them all because it’s so convenient to walk from one to the next marveling at the façade and gazing at the merchandise.
The wares made by the village blacksmith, broomsquire, weaver and woodworker are available at the Village Crafter’s Shop, located in the Visitor Center .
The Roscoe General Store is a throwback to historic community general stores. It offers everything from antiques to collectible bears and pottery to unusual toys for kids. Its candy bouquet temps with lindts truffles, jelly beans, lollipops and gourmet chocolates.
The shopping list goes on. River Ridge Leather tans leather the old-fashioned way and hand stitches leather handbags, belts, harnesses and more. Visitors are invited to see a live demonstration of the old art and see the original tools of the trade dating back to the 1800s.
Over at Garden Gate, visitors find novel gardening gifts, herbs, flowers, fountains and other accessories. The House of G.A. Fisher is known for one-of-a-kind jewels and keepsakes, Lenox, clocks and watches. Liberty House has a fashionable collection of purses, scarves, wraps and whimsical styles of women’s clothing. Wildwood Music is happy to hook you up with a handmade stringed instrument like a dulcimer, mandolin, banjo or guitar. And the Village Soap & Candle Shop has lotions, soaps and powders that are primitive and homespun.
Although walking around town may be like a living history museum outdoors and in, there is an actual museum to boot – The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum. This nationally accredited museum has incredible collections in several galleries, including the American Indian Gallery, Historical Ohio Gallery, Decorative Arts Gallery, Oriental Gallery and a Special Exhibits Gallery that features a variety of collections throughout the year.
Roscoe Village is never more alive than during its special events. Annual favorites include the October Apple Butter Stirrin’ Festival and December annual Christmas Candlelighting.
When the day winds down, Historic Roscoe Village offers several gardens beautifully landscaped to take a load off and melt into the scene on a park bench. Perhaps the favorite leisure-time activity is a 45-minute canal boat ride tugged by horses walking along the tow path along the canal banks. Instead of packing the plentiful activities into one day, an overnight stay may be better. A variety of lodging options are nearby and include bed and breakfasts, inns, cabins, guest houses, motels, campgrounds and a lodge.
For more information to plan a trip to Historic Roscoe Village and learn about its operating schedule, fees and admissions, different tours, canal boat rides, lodging and special events, visit www.roscoevillage.com or call 1-800-877-1830.
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler by Frank R. Satullo