Ohio Spring Festivals and Events
And other Spring things to do
and places to go in Ohio…
And other Spring things to do
and places to go in Ohio…
These were the original beer caves!
When modernization rendered the elaborate labyrinth obsolete, there was no practical use for the tunnel system. It was buried and largely forgotten. As old streets were torn up and old buildings were torn down, the crushed brick and concrete pieces were brushed into the vent and drainage systems to fall into the idle caverns below.
Many decades later, like archaeologists excavating a lost city, these tunnels and caverns were slowly chiseled out and cleared. And then, tours took people into the depths to rediscover Cincinnati’s drunk history. Click here to read the rest of the story.
Ohio’s Sand Dunes at Oak Openings Preserve and Metroparks Toledo
Travelers to the Outer Banks or Great Sand Dunes National Park temper your expectations. Ohio’s sand dunes are not that. But it is unique because these dunes, much lesser as they may be, are tucked into prairie woodland trees and brush tangled with the leftovers of an ancient shoreline.
When pioneers traveled Northwest Ohio, they suffered many setbacks in the Black Swamp area. When they reached drier land, it seemed like an endless woodland of oak trees. But the oaks were spaced so wide apart that they earned the name Oak Openings. Horses and wagons navigated them with relative ease, at least until those wagon wheels sunk in the sand.
The Sand Dunes Trail may seem like a mirage at first. It’s at a slightly higher elevation, so when splotches of the light brown hue come in and out of view through the woods, one may wonder just how much, or little sand awaits. It’s not a grand view to take an all-in-one panoramic scan of the eyes. It’s a winding adventure revealing surprises around every foliage-filled corner, revealing a new vista dotted with ferns, flowers, and trees. Look before stepping, and it’s likely plenty of animal tracks will be stamped onto the surface, especially after a rain. Plenty of benches are perched along a ridge for more of a bird’s eye view of nature’s collage. The trailhead is picked up at the Mallard Lake pavilion and playground parking area next to the Buehner Center. It’s marked as the Red Trail.
Today, Oak Openings Preserve at Metroparks Toledo spans 5,000 acres and has 70 miles of hiking, biking, and bridle trails. The park’s ecosystem combines wetlands with oak savanna and dunes. The combination makes it a popular respite for migrating birds.
By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun
2023 marks the 100th Anniversary of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the world’s oldest and largest military aviation museum.
The museum will commemorate this major milestone with events and exhibits that celebrate its humble beginnings as a small engine study lab at McCook field and through its growth to more than 19 indoor acres housing more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts. The museum’s vast collection highlights the evolution of flight and the history and establishment of the U.S. Air Force as an independent service. Today, the museum is a world-renowned center for air and space power technology and culture preservation.
“Celebrating 100 years is a significant milestone in the history of any museum,” said National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Historian Doug Lantry. “The growth we have experienced over the last century is directly attributed to the Air Force’s wise commitment to preserving its heritage and the tremendous support we receive from our local, national, and international communities. It will be an exciting year as we celebrate in style with events and exhibits that will appeal to the whole family.”
The following are just some of the planned events and exhibits as the museum celebrates its centennial. Additional events will be added throughout the year at https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/.
The featured event in March is Kite Week. The public will be invited to bring their kites out to the museum’s front lawn. Bring the family and pack a picnic lunch to make a day of this unique opportunity.
Centennial Exhibit opens May 20. The museum has aged well over the last 100 years, and this new exhibit in the Cold War Gallery will give visitors a glimpse into our history and the people that made it all possible.
The Planes, Trains, and Automobiles model event will be a major summer event. A diverse array of unique model aircraft, locomotives, and motor vehicles will be featured against the museum’s impressive aircraft displays.
And in the fall, come check out “Discover Steampunk.”
Oh, and general admission and parking are free!
Visit National Museum of the USAF for updated information.
Enjoy a leisurely day shopping
Yoder’s Bakery and Furniture
Formerly Keim Family Market
in Ohio’s gorgeous
Wheat Ridge Amish Community
in Seaman, Ohio.
to plan your visit
Yoder’s is a sponsor of OhioTraveler
Ohio has two Packard automobile museums, one in the northeast and the other in the southwest part of the state.
“Hey there, friend, what can we put you in today?” may echo in both museums.
The National Packard Museum is where the automobile was first invented in Warren, Ohio, by the Packard brothers. Walk around, and the nostalgia and authenticity of Packard’s origin come to life. It’s another chapter of Ohio’s innovation at the turn of the Nineteenth to Twentieth Centuries.
The American Packard Museum boasts the most extensive public collection of Packard automobiles and memorabilia worldwide. The museum is in a former Packard dealership that opened in 1917. It would be an excellent find for Hollywood if a movie needed a scene from a classy auto dealer’s showroom.
Until that happens, know that the museums have acquired their Hollywood stars. An example is the 1948 Henney Landau 3-way Hearse displayed at The American Packard Museum. It was featured in the 1972 movie The Godfather when Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando) was taken to the cemetery and buried.
Two shooting stars crossed paths in the 1950s. As Packard was fizzling out, DeLorean was burning red hot. The illustrious and infamous John DeLorean invented the iconic DeLorean car of Back to the Future cinematic fame. During his early career, he worked for Packard. The 28-year-old auto engineer set out to improve the company’s new “Ultramatic Drive” (automatic transmission).
The Packard Motor Car Company invented several key components of the automobile. These innovations included the steering wheel (cars until then used steering rudders), bumpers, and air conditioning. It was, after all, America’s most luxurious automobile. It was known for its unsurpassed quality and luxury, with a price tag to match it. The first Packard was built by two brothers, James and William Packard, in Warren, Ohio, in 1899. Their company name changed from the Ohio Automobile Company to Packard Motor Car Company a few years later.
Packard autos were a status symbol for their owners, rivaling names like Mercedes Benz and Rolls Royce. Celebrities of the 1930s, like Charlie Chaplin, owned a Packard among their collection of glamour toys. That is until the company tried to compete in the mid-market autos in the 1930s. This was in part due to the rise of the Cadillac as America’s new darling in the luxury automobile market. Its overall market share shrinking, the company attempted to remain relevant but ultimately folded. Its last hurrah was merging with another fading favorite, Studebaker. The last Packards made were in the mid to late 1950s.
In its heyday, Packard was a household name even though most households couldn’t afford one, at least until its later years. The Dayton museum features a 1934 Super Eight Sport Phaeton, made special for the New York Auto Show that year. Its color, Orello, was a unique blend of orange and yellow, although this color wasn’t in the Packard catalog. Its price tag was more than $3,000 when the average new automobile only cost $700. The cost was double the average annual salary and half that of a new house. The story behind this particular car on display is that wealthy parents gifted it to their sweet 16-year-old daughter. She hated the color.
Fun tales like this abound at both museums. Plan a visit to see how high society rolled in America back in the early decades of the Twentieth Century.
By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun
Upon approach, the old Wood County Infirmary is very inviting. But the stories from within the walls of this “Poor House” are much glummer.
“The Home” as it was called is one of the last county poor houses still standing in Ohio. The main building was constructed in 1868 and housed Wood County’s poor, elderly, orphaned, sick, and mentally ill. Additional buildings were added several years later such as the Pest House and Lunatic House. The Lunatic House was used for the violently insane. The Pestilence House was used to quarantine residents inflicted with infectious diseases.
The former farm’s compound of buildings and structures appear more mansionesque featuring an Italianate influence.
At its center is a brick Victorian Era building, now a museum with over thirty exhibit rooms dedicated to showcasing the history of the Home and of Wood County. Adjacent brick buildings for former residences add an air of warmth along with its two-story sprawling wood porches. The scene is inspirational. And maybe that was the objective.
The elaborate and massive stone fence around the perimeter and its arching stone gateway lead to parklike grounds, including an arboretum. The outdoor park, maintained by the Wood County Park District, offers an herb garden, nature trails, and numerous outdoor points of interest including a working oil derrick and an extensive collection of farm implements.
The Infirmary averaged 80 residents but during The Great Depression, it packed in 140. It operated for over 100 years before finally closing in 1971. Several years later, it opened its doors again as the Wood County Historical Center and Museum. And the Wood County Museum has been providing tours ever since.
For those who enjoy “true crime” podcasts and television exposes, there’s a room at the Wood County Museum dedicated to a story that will not disappoint. And in it is a jar of human remains from a murder victim dating to the 1880s. In short, Carl and Mary Bachman and their three children were having financial stress causing Carl to mortgage their Wood County farm. Turmoil in the marriage resulted in an assault, file for divorce, and custody battle before Carl struck Mary 18 forceful blows with a corn-cutter. She was seven months pregnant.
The tragic story including trial transcripts is meticulously kept.
The severed fingers preserved and kept as evidence by Sheriff George Murray Brown along with curious other “mementos” are telling of the peculiar relationship he and Carl Bach formed during Bach’s incarceration at the jailhouse for two years before being executed by hanging at the county courthouse.
The museum is full of nooks and crannies, each with a fascinating story to tell. Exhibits will explain the history of Ohio’s county poor houses. Inside the Lunatic Asylum, mental illness misconceptions and treatments are explained. Another exhibit explores global disease and social programs pioneering sanitation, bath culture, urban planning, and more. Displayed is a full-body iron lung metal coffin-like contraction used in the treatment of polio and other ailments affecting the breathing of patients. There’s also an original Icehouse on the property. It was built before electric refrigeration and was used to preserve the food for the Infirmary residents.
The permanent and temporary exhibits at the Wood County Museum are described at https://woodcountyhistory.org/exhibits/. Upcoming events are posted to https://woodcountyhistory.org/events/.
Who knew a visit to the poor house could be so rich … in history?
By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun
They drove along Reformatory Drive, their attention captured by the stone monster flickering through the fence.
One car was smothered amid a hundred bikers, all donning their leather cuts and club patch. The mass of vehicles slowly constricted to turn and enter a time capsule behind the main gate. Ahead was an avenue of buckeye trees emphasizing – “arrival.” It led smack into the prison, looming as an imposing castle.
“How would you like to live across the street from a prison?” A man asked a boy as they walked, gesturing at the houses across the way.
“Living across from a castle would be awesome!” The boy exclaimed, ignoring the leading question.
Everyone stood in awe of The Ohio State Reformatory. No wonder epic films like Shawshank Redemption were shot at this architectural gem in Mansfield, Ohio. With well over 100 years of hellish stories in its vault, it is ironic that this place was originally meant to inspire. Yet, just as easily, its mixture of architectural styles featuring Chateauesque and Richardsonian with Gothic overtones could also intimidate. … Click here for the rest of the story …
Some in the family escaped the Soviet invasion of Latvia. Decades years later, an opera singer smuggled a symbol to indicate that they made it to freedom back to those who didn’t. That symbol was a postcard of Serpent Mound in Peebles, Ohio. …Click here for the rest of the story…
for the rest of the story
Go through a secret door. Ascend the castle-like spiral staircase made of stone. See the interior graffiti wall.
Take a minute to see the rarely viewed interior of the cupola at the Ohio Statehouse.
Three giant trolls made from recycled materials now live among the natural habitats at Aullwood Audubon in Dayton, Ohio, in an exhibit called “The Troll That Hatched an Egg.”
Two of these towering pieces of art are placed subtly in the woodlands. They blend in so well; visitors may be stunned when they come into view. Out on the prairie is one you can see from across the open field at quite a distance. It, too, is a stunning sight. Together, these majestic creatures named Bo, Bodil, and Bibbi tell a story about birds, flight, and why preserving habitats is essential.
The giant trolls are the creation of internationally renowned artist Thomas Dambo. There are only nine other exhibitions of this kind in the country. But this one tells explicitly a story that combines the area’s environment and history of flight.
Dambo is from Copenhagen, Denmark, and is recognized around the globe as a master recycle artist. His giant trolls have been popping up around the world for the past decade. Aullwood’s trio of trolls was created from locally sourced materials. It’s why they blend so well with their surrounding ecosystem. Dead branches in the area made the troll’s nest.
People of all ages are enjoying the opportunity to get out and see such a wonderous imagination come to life among the natural jewel that is Aullwood Audubon. Plan a trip to see “The Troll That Hatched an Egg” at Aullwood.org.
By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun!
In the old days, moms and dads would gather up the kids and things into the station wagon and go on a Sunday drive to get out of the city, into open spaces, and spend a lazy day together to shed the stress of the rat race in the rearview mirror.
Driving, it’s interesting to note where urban architecture ends, streetlights disappear, and a state route winds between barns that look like they should be in a painting. In this trip, that state route is 52, and it hugs the Ohio River heading east of Cincinnati, offering some beautiful views.
Entering Ohio’s lazy river town… click here for the rest of the story.
“The Sky is Now Her Limit” by E.A. Bushnell published in Sandusky Star-Herald August 23, 1920.
The top rung reads, “Presidency.”
Click the photo to enlarge and read each rung of the ladder.
Note: The placard under the piece errantly cites “Elmer Busnell” misspelling the last name of Elmer Andrews (E.A.) Bushnell.
Bushnell was a cartoonist who worked at newspapers in Ohio and New York. This piece was created upon the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to represent the opportunities now open to enfranchised women. Source: Google Arts & Culture
Traveling around the country, we often run into “Pieces of Ohio,” so we decided to collect them and bring them home to OhioTraveler.com.
This piece of Ohio was found at the Seal Cove Auto Museum in Mount Desert Island, Maine, by Acadia National Park on what is called “The Quiet Side.” It was a traveling exhibition illustrating the struggle to win women’s right to vote.
By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun
The old lodge looked like it was hanging on from the 1930s, or so it seemed. I walked a dim-lit hallway calling out to see if anyone was there. Tucked in a backroom was the office.
“I didn’t think you were going to make it,” said the live-in manager in such a way that I questioned if I’d hear the same statement in the morning …if I happened to be lucky enough to see it.
“Let me escort you to your room,” she said.
On the way out, she grabbed an old metal square floor fan. “This is your air conditioning.”
And by “out,” I mean out of the lodge and down a walkway to a cinder block with what looked to be patched bullet holes in the door. …click here for the rest of the story…
The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology is proud to announce a new fine art exhibition in the Marcia W. Downes Art Gallery titled Permission to Create: The Legacy of Mary Sherwood Wright Jones. This exhibition looks at how a single artist’s dedication to her craft can reverberate for generations. The show includes early fine art pieces by renowned Licking County artist, Mary Sherwood Wright Jones (1982-1985) and artworks by family members who have been inspired by her example. The exhibition opens February 5, 2022, celebrating the artists’ work with an all-day opening, allowing visitors to view the display at no charge.
While widely known for her children’s illustrations, this is the first public showing of Mary Sherwood Wright Jones’ early paintings and drawings. With her warm, understated presence, she was a role model for many including several family members who have followed her into the arts. Recent, contemporary paintings and photographs by two of her grandchildren, Michael Kennedy and Anne Sherwood Pundyk, and her great granddaughter, Phoebe Pundyk are installed in the show alongside Jones’ early 20th century realist works.
“She encouraged us to be original,” said artist Michael Kennedy. “Our grandmother truly wanted us to explore our creativity. Through the years, we began to appreciate how her ‘permission to create’ really inspired generations in our own family and beyond. This show celebrates this legacy and allows us to share an important message: creativity can change lives in so many ways.”
In addition to the artworks, New York artist Anne Sherwood Pundyk is launching a new artist’s book with the exhibition called The Garden, published by Space Sisters Press. Modeled on her grandmother’s love of illustrated fairy tales, the book pairs abstract geometric images and short family fables. A reading corner is featured in the gallery to sample this and other illustrated books by Mary Sherwood Wright Jones. Collectively, the artworks, books and videos in the exhibition share Jones’ life lessons with viewers, perhaps inspiring ideas about ways to embrace creativity in their own lives.
On the occasion of the exhibition, four of Mary Sherwood Wright Jones’ original color illustrations depicting notable chapters in the history of Licking County will be donated by her family to The Works. More details about this art exhibition and other events at The Works can be found by visiting attheworks.org. The Marcia W. Downes Art Gallery is free and open to the public year-round during Works’ hours of operation, Tuesday-Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to check The Works website for current safety guidelines prior to visiting. Denison University is the 2022 sponsor of the art gallery.
The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology® is a leading regional destination that enriches lives by providing interactive opportunities that inspire creativity and learning. The Works is a Smithsonian Affiliate located at 55 S. 1st Street, Newark, Ohio 43055. For more about The Works, visit www.attheworks.org.
Learn about the madcap grocer. Go backstage where legendary acts performed. Get lost in dungeons and caves. Sit behind bars where Shawshank Redemption was filmed. Walk the tunnels under a major city. Drive the clothesline of quilts. And see how things are made from glass to chocolate to baseball bats. Open the doors to imagination and inspiration. Explore Ohio’s tours and trails. All of which are just a daytrip away.
Plan a trip to a classic car museum. Take flight into aviation history. Ride the rails of Yesteryear. Or set sail! So, pilot, drive, engineer, or captain your way to Ohio’s transportation destinations. Click here for a ticket to your next journey.
These Ohio travel stories are multimedia, long-form, pieces that take a deep dive into a particular place to tell its story in an entertaining and thorough way. Each is photo-rich and may also share short video clips. All of which are placed in the flow of a long-form story. These stories are timeless. Bookmark and take your time reading them.
Enjoy! …Over 20 Great Ohio Travel Stories:
Cultivating A Botanical Legacy
The Black Cyclone From Wooster
Most Colorful Caverns in America
Uncork The Spirit of the Wine Trail
Collecting a Legacy … and Controversy
An Altogether Summer Adventure
An Altogether Winter Adventure
Each of these stories was sponsored.
Over the years, we have recognized 50 of the top attractions or destinations in Ohio travel and tourism. In the coming years, we’ll continue our journey until we discover the TOP-100 attractions in Ohio. See 51-100 as they are added over time by clicking here.
Here are our top 50 out of 100 Standouts in Ohio Tourism in no particular order:
Dennison Railroad Depot Museum
National Museum of The U.S. Air Force
Jungle Jim’s International Market
For a guide to all Ohio travel and tourism destinations listed on OhioTraveler.com, CLICK HERE.
Eli’s BBQ in Cincinnati is located in a place that’s not well marked but everyone knows where to go for great-tasting barbeque and atmosphere. It’s in an old river neighborhood a stone’s skip from the Ohio River. When you walk into the weathered building, you first notice the worn wooden floor. On one wall there’s a collection of rock’s finest vinyl records. On another wall, there’s an old stereo system with a turntable spinning records from the collection.
You’ll walk to the counter in the back and order your food. Then, find a seat in the front dining room with the most peculiar art for sale, hanging on the walls. Or you may sit outside or in an adjacent tented eating area. They’ll bring the food to you when it’s ready. The pulled pork, ribs and creamy southern coleslaw are to die for! But there are plenty of other great options to feast on. If you enjoy Jalapeño, try the cheddar grits and cornbread.
Eli’s BBQ has been listed in national top-10 lists for best barbeque and is also available at some Cincinnati area Kroger stores. They also have a stand at the historic Findlay Market for take-out in downtown Cincinnati. Elis is open daily from 11am – 9pm. You’ll find it at (Map It) 3313 Riverside Drive in Cincinnati, Ohio. You may call 513-533-1957 or visit http://www.elisbarbeque.com/.
For more of Ohio’s unique eateries, vsit https://www.ohiotraveler.com/restaurants-eateries/. If you want to suggest a place for our taste buds to determine if it gets added to the list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rocco Satullo, your Tour Guide to Fun
What do trolls, cardboard boats and pencil sharpeners have in common? They each have their own museum in Ohio.
Let’s jump down this rabbit hole to discover another world within our own.
Or maybe a troll hole?
The Troll Hole Museum in Alliance, Ohio displays the world’s largest collection of troll dolls. Explorers of this one-of-a-kind museum will discover the history and creation of troll dolls. And with that, the myth, magic and folklore of the ancient trolls themselves! The museum features rooms containing floor to ceiling trolls. In addition, there’s a troll hunters’ cabin, a walk-through troll cave, treasure room, and even an indoor waterfall. For visitor details, click here.
Diving further down the rabbit hole, maybe your new troll would like a cardboard boat.
The Cardboard Boat Museum in New Richmond, Ohio claims to be the world’s only cardboard boat racing museum and America’s cardboard boat racing capital. The museum is owned and run by some of the best cardboard boat engineers and builders in the country. They are serious about their craft and have built many a winning vessel that’s sailed in cardboard boat regattas all over. These architects will provide tours as well as building tips to give your sea-worthy cardboard an advantage in your next race. The exotic and unusual boats are constructed with only cardboard, duct tape and paint. The displays are ever rotating so visitors keep coming back to see what’s new. Click here for visitor information.
And if you’re not far enough down the rabbit hole, let’s make one last stop at a tiny place with a huge collection.
You’ll discover more than 3,000 pencil sharpeners at Paul’s Pencil Sharpener Museum in Logan, Ohio. Paul Johnson started collecting pencil sharpeners, of all things, in 1989. It is then that his wife, Charlotte, bought him two little metal car pencil sharpeners. This fueled an idea and drove Paul to collect a large number and wide variety of pencil sharpeners. When you take a close look at these miniature art forms, you can appreciate the imagination behind the eclectic collection. It is interesting to hear the excitement of people of every age examining the pieces declaring, “Look at this one” or “Found my favorite.” Heck, there’s even a monster sharpener that belches after devouring pencil shavings. Sharpeners take the form of globes, skateboards, people, animals, you-name-it. For more information on this tiny pleasure, click here.
These three little gems of museums aren’t the only places housing unique displays in Ohio. For more, click here.
Learn why Annie and Jay Warmke built a house out of trash in this 30-minute podcast. In Ohio’s hills of Appalachia sits the most renowned homestead of sustainable living in the state – Blue Rock Station!
Enjoy this and other stories they have to tell. Click here.
Featured Video of the Month
SOUTHWEST OHIO FESTIVALS
This month’s featured video showcases
year-round festivities in Wilmington and Clinton County, Ohio
from spring festivals to summer concerts to fall fun, and holiday cheer, Southwest Ohio has it all.
and may not be on our featured videos channel in the menu above.
The Waterfalls at Hocking Hills
A Quick View of the “Shawshank” Prison
Garden Railway for Model Trains
From the majestic unicorn to the sleek mermaid to the mighty kraken, certainly these are just tall tales or figments of our imagination…or are they? Find out at COSI’s Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids: Mythic Creatures.
Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids: Mythic Creatures is the third traveling exhibition in a new and unique collaboration between COSI and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The partnership began with the opening of the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery in November 2017. The exhibition traces the natural and cultural roots of some of the world’s most enduring mythological creatures from Asia, Europe, the Americas, and beyond. This amazing exhibition includes imaginative models, paintings, and textiles, along with other cultural objects from around the world ranging from Chinese shadow puppets to Greek coins that bring to light surprising similarities and differences in the ways people around the world have been inspired by nature to envision and depict these strange and wonderful creatures.
“This exhibition combines mythical lore with scientific undercurrents, tracing the origins of these popular and fascinating fictional creatures and exploring the often factual inspiration behind them,” said Dr. Frederic Bertley, COSI president and CEO. “Through large scale models, real fossils and beautiful artwork, people of all ages will start to understand the intriguing stories behind these mythic creatures and their role throughout history in many cultures.”
For many centuries, humans around the world have brought mythic creatures to life in stories, music, and works of art. Today these creatures, which were sometimes inspired by fossils or living animals, continue to delight us. Organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, this exhibition reveals the relationship between nature and legend throughout history from Pliny the Elder, who, in 77 c.e., asserted that mermaids were “no fabulous tale,” to the current sightings of Scotland’s renowned but unsubstantiated Loch Ness Monster.
“We are very pleased to continue our ongoing collaboration with COSI with the presentation of ‘Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids: Mythic Creatures,’” said Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History. “This exhibition, with its exploration of how nature has informed and inspired the human imagination, was extremely popular with visitors in New York, and we’re very excited now to share it with audiences in Columbus.”
Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids: Mythic Creatures features models and replicas of preserved specimens from the American Museum of Natural History and other museums’ collections as well as cast fossils of prehistoric animals to investigate how they could have, through misidentification, speculation, fear, or imagination, inspired the development of some legendary creatures. For example, visitors will discover how narwhal tusks from the North Sea, introduced to continental Europe by Scandinavian traders, lent credence to the centuries-old belief in the unicorn, and how dinosaur fossils uncovered by Scythian nomads may have been mistaken for the remains of living, breathing griffins. Persistent tales of undersea monsters may simply be sightings of real creatures such as the oarfish and giant squid, which are just as wondrous as any imaginary denizens of the deep.
Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids: Mythic Creatures also offers numerous interactive stations throughout the exhibition, inviting visitors to touch casts of a narwhal tusk, the lower jaw of <em>Gigantopithecus, and a life-size reproduction of the talon of a Haast’s eagle (Harpagornis moorei). Activities include rearranging scale models of mammoth bones to look like a giant human skeleton and Protoceratops bones to look like a griffin skeleton. Visitors can build their own dragon in an engaging touch-screen interactive and watch it come alive before their eyes in a virtual environment. Videos include interviews with experts in various fields discussing the significance of mythical creatures and their possible real-life counterparts. Other interviewees include Christopher Paolini, the young author of the best-selling books Eragon and Eldest; award-winning artist Takeshi Yamada, who creates “mythic creatures” today; and artists from motion-picture visual effects company Industrial Light and Magic (founded by George Lucas) demonstrating the process of creating dragons for popular movies such as Eragon.
Other exhibition highlights include: a 120-foot-long Chinese parade dragon, used in New York City’s Chinatown to perform the traditional dragon dance at the Lunar New Year; a replica “Feejee mermaid,” of the type made famous by showman P. T. Barnum, created by sewing the head and torso of a monkey to the tail of a fish; and four tremendous, “life-size” models of mythical creatures: a 17-foot-long dragon with a wingspan of over 19 feet; a 10-foot-long unicorn; an 11-foot-long Roc with large, sharp talons swooping above the heads of visitors with a wingspan of nearly 20 feet; a kraken, whose 12-foot-long tentacles appear to rise out of the floor of the exhibition as if surfacing from the sea; plus two actual life-size models—an over-6-foot-tall, extinct primate called Gigantopithecus; and the largest bird ever to have lived, the over-9-foot-tall, extinct Aepyornis.
Plan your visit to COSI to see these mythic creatures at https://www.cosi.org/.
By Jaclyn Reynolds
Come Play & Explore in Southwest Ohio
This feature video showcases
events and attractions in
Wilmington and Clinton County, Ohio
West central Ohio has an impeccable reputation for building things. Some of the finest manufacturers in the world are located in the Midwest and an incredible number of these can be found in the west-central region of the Buckeye State. Factory tours are an increasingly popular leisure time activity across all age groups. Who among us doesn’t enjoy the thrill of seeing something with which we’re familiar come to life right before our very eyes? If factory tours are your thing too, you’ll certainly want to make plans to visit Sidney, Ohio where your next factory tour adventure begins.
Previously recognized by FoxNews.com as one of the top 10 greatest factory tours in America, the Airstream factory tour is not to be missed. From chassis assembly through final testing, this tour offers a front row seat to witness these iconic travel trailers come to life. For years you’ve seen these beauties touring the highways and byways of America. This tour is your opportunity to see in person, the quality and care that goes into their construction.
Another interesting tour stop is Allison’s Custom Jewelry where Jon and Libby Allison offer an insightful view into the jewelry business. From the science of geology to the artistry of crafting stunning keep-sakes treasured by families for generations, this tour will amaze.
Detailed information about the Airstream and Allison’s tours can be viewed on the Sidney Visitors Bureau web site along with an overview of additional factory tours in the area. But not just factory tours alone, on this site, you can select from eight packaged tour itineraries, or you build your own from a list of 70 points of interest in the west central Ohio region.
Looking ahead, April 1st, 2019 marks the 200 year bicentennial of Shelby County Ohio. To celebrate, a group of community volunteers has planned a series of year-long activities and events to commemorate this historic milestone. For the history buffs, a multipart lecture series will be presented on topics such as The Role of Transportation in Shaping Shelby County; the Life and Influences of Local Author Lois Lenski; A Celebration of Education; Why We Are Who We Are – A 200 Year Retrospective; and Rumley: An African American Pioneer Community in Frontier Shelby County.
Additional attractions throughout the year include an Antique & Vintage Quilt Exhibit, Native American Artifact Show, a world record attempt to open the most drink cans simultaneously, an outdoor concert featuring the Wright Patterson Air Force Band of Flight, and an impressive number of local festivals and themed celebrations.
On the Sidney Visitors Bureau web site, you’ll find information about these and so much more. The online events calendar offers a list of nearly 100 family-friendly activities and events planned for the months ahead. Here you’re sure to find something of interest for everyone.
Visit Sidney, Ohio… They’re waiting for you.
THE MOONSHINE FESTIVAL
This feature video showcases
The Moonshine Festival in New Straitsville, Ohio
The Trebein-Flynn home
In February 1929, about 100 Greene County residents met at the Greene County District Library to organize an historical society. Dr. William Albert Galloway presided over the meeting, partly because he was in charge of the historical exhibit for the 1928 Home-Coming Committee. He spoke briefly of highlights in Greene County history, and of the danger of losing such a wealth of personal and general history unless it were collected by organized effort. Following that initial meeting, the group met bimonthly in various places, including the Courthouse and Shawnee Park. Speakers presented lectures, further plans were made to preserve county history, and schools were encouraged to include the history of Greene County in curriculum materials.
In 1934, Miss Emma King donated a house and lot at the corner of Second and Monroe Streets in Xenia to the county commissioners for a museum. In response to this generosity, the Greene County Museum Association was organized in April of that year. In 1936, arrangements were made to move the Galloway log house from its original location near Goes Station to that lot. During the next few years, the group learned about museum management firsthand; collecting and caring for artifacts and building maintenance were all part of having a permanent home. Memberships were solicited to further the work of the Society; the County Commissioners agreed to fund the museum’s running expenses in 1935 “as the building had been given to the County for museum programs.” The Greene County Museum Association and Greene County Historical Society merged in 1953, the year of Ohio and Greene County’s 150th birthday celebrations.
In time, the members felt that additional property would be desirable, and through the donations of two men, Charles Snediker of Fairborn and John Glossinger of New York via Xenia, the property on West Church Street was acquired. The William G. Moorehead house on the corner of North Detroit and West Church held many artifacts. The Snediker Museum, named after its donor, was a brick carriage house on the Moorehead property and housed pioneer tools and implements. The John Glossinger Cultural Center was used for meetings and contained the offices of the Society. In 1965, the Galloway log house was removed to this location from its former home at Second and Monroe St., and the four-building complex was complete.
Things went as usual until the afternoon of April 3, 1974. Of the four historical society buildings, three were damaged beyond repair, with the log house the only survivor. It received a temporary roof while artifacts and fixtures were gathered and stored by volunteers until the Society could find suitable storage during the rebuilding process. Storage facilities ranged from an old warehouse in Yellow Springs, to Hooven & Allison property, to members’ homes. There was no question about rebuilding; many different options were considered. After much thought, the membership voted to “trade” the city of Xenia a portion of the property which was needed for widening Church St., in order to purchase a house to replace the Moorehead & Glossinger houses, and to rebuild the Galloway log house at its same location. A grant was obtained for restoration of the log house, which became the primary, immediate goal. During this time, membership meetings were held in various places throughout the county, but none were missed.
The log house was reopened to the public in December 1975. The Queen Anne house from the southeast corner of Church and Detroit was moved to the corner of southwest Church and King in 1977; The Paul Gertler Co. of Reynoldsburg OH did the moving, which took two days and cost around $15,000. In 1990, with donations and help from many, the Brantley Carriage House Museum, a three-story brick building modeled after the old Snediker carriage house, was erected behind the Town House. Presiding over the dedication ceremony was Dr Norman Vincent Peale, formerly of Bowersville. In fall 2009, the Galloway log house was restored at a cost of nearly $30,000, replacing rotted logs and the cement chinking from the 1974 rebuilding, and adding copper gutters and downspouts.
The Historical Society continues to preserve historical artifacts and documents in its three-building complex on West Church St., as well as its caboose on South Detroit St., which are open to county residents and visitors alike. Monthly meetings on a variety of topics welcome those who wish to attend, and annual memberships at a minimal cost are available for all age groups. Commemorative N and HO scale railroad cars with the 90th anniversary logo will be available also, at a cost of $25 each, to raise funds. For further information about the Greene County Ohio Historical Society or its programs, please contact them at 937-372-4606 or email@example.com.
Nestled in the foothills of Coshocton County are some of most unique shopping experiences in Ohio. Make plans to visit Coshocton for the newest Vera Bradley purse, vintage glassware, quilting materials, extraordinary home decor, antique furniture, Ohio-made products, and locally made fine art. From Historic Roscoe Village, “over town” to Coshocton, and out into the country, shoppers will find many treasures to take home. Along the way there are cozy places for refreshments during a day in Coshocton County on the new Antique & Unique Shopping Trail.
Being greeted with a smile by the shop owner is one reason shoppers love this trail.
“Upon arrival at the Kozy Kottage Antiques & Gifts, I was kindly greeted by sisters Debbie Ungurean and Patti Ridenbaugh, ” said Coshocton Visitors Bureau manager, Kelly Florian. “I especially enjoyed the greeting from Patsy Cline, the shop’s dog, who wore a pink bandana and a cute puppy smile.”
The Kozy Kottage has no shortage of treasures your parents and grandparents may have grown up with. Take a step onto their outdoor patio to find unusual terrariums and vintage items of all shapes and sizes. Owners Debbie and Patti recall thrifting when they were younger and found it to be so much fun that they decided to open their very own shop in Coshocton.
“Reclaim. Unique. Salvage.” is Rust Decor’s motto, which captures the essence of the new trail perfectly. Owner Jenny Coffman, along with her family, are breaking barriers with their new shop. Jenny finds discarded and salvage furniture and decorative items and brings them back to life through creative painting and repurposing. Daughter Elle is a young fashion ambassador that has her own ladies clothing line which is also available at Rust Decor.
Roscoe General Store has been making their famous fudge for many years. The shop, located in Historic Roscoe Village, is filled with home decor, toys, cookbooks, & gourmet treats, including homemade apple butter. Set in a beautifully restored 1830s canal town, it is one of many shops on the trail located in Historic Roscoe Village. Others include The Village Crafter’s Shop, The Cottage Gate, Ohio State of Mind, Canal Cargo, and Abigail Birch & Company.
The Antique and Unique Shopping Trail goes into town and off the beaten path to The Grainery, The Rusty Olde Crow, Treasure Hunt Antiques, Coshocton Antique Mall, Cherokee Trading Post, Mercantile on Main, C&M Collectibles and Unusual Junction.
No day of shopping is complete without at least one stop for good coffee. Coshocton Coffee Connection and Hannah Marie’s Specialty Bakery and Coffee Shop are both darling places to relax and recharge. For shoppers who want a more formal place to sit down, English Ivy is located in an 1800’s era Victorian house and features a shady outdoor patio.
If 17 shops seems too many to experience in one day, you are invited to stay in one of our many cabins, bed and breakfasts or local hotels. Coshocton Village Inn and Suites features a “Girlfriend’s Getaway” package! For more information, visit www.visitcoshocton.com/.
Re-Discovering America’s First Coast-to-Coast Road
What could be more fun than learning about an amazing national attraction for the first time? If you already knew about it, there may be more to the story that you didn’t know.
The Lincoln Highway was the first coast-to-coast road in America. It predates Route 66 by about twelve years. And while the “Mother Road” ran from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1926, the Lincoln Highway, then known as the “Father Road” or “Main Street Across America”, crossed the entire country in 1913.
At the turn of the 20th century, there were virtually no paved roads outside city limits, and by 1910 automobiles were good only for a short drive as long as you didn’t stray too far. Autos were simply a toy for the upper class. There were no gas stations or repair shops. Because there was no commercial manufacturing yet, gasoline was sold at the back of drugstores and farmers’ feed stores.
Auto manufacturers and tycoons soon recognized that America needed a network of good roads if they were to sell more automobiles. They reasoned that if a single, paved road were to connect the Atlantic to the Pacific, communities close by would build connecting roads. Eventually, more distant communities would add roads, and soon a national network would be built, making the automobile a practical form of transportation for everybody.
The Lincoln Highway officially began September 14, 1913, with an announcement of the proposed route by founders and industry leaders Henry B. Joy of Packard Motor Company, Frank A. Seiberling of Goodyear Rubber, and Carl Fisher, founder of Prest-O-Lite Company; maker of carbide car headlamps. Their intention was to boost auto travel as a way of life and also to commemorate President Lincoln, to whom no national monument had yet been established.
This first coast-to-coast route began at Times Square in New York City, and ended 3,389 miles westward in Lincoln Park, San Francisco, passing through a corridor of the United States somewhat similar to the route of today’s Interstate Route 80. Originally this path was typically marked with a large “L” and red and blue colored stripes – sometimes painted on utility poles. Named roads proliferated soon after the naming of the Lincoln Highway, but by the 1920s the state and federal governments began road building, and symbols and stripes of all the named roads started coming down. A new system was established for marking routes, and much of the Lincoln Highway was designated U.S. Route 30.
Founders of the road, the Lincoln Highway Association with its prestigious offices in Detroit, ceased its operations in 1928 with a final tribute to Abraham Lincoln. Nearly 2,500 concrete directional posts were set by the Boy Scouts of America in cities and towns along the highway, with 200 set in Ohio, some of which can be found yet today. This era of history changed America significantly. It helped give rise to the American vacation and changed how and where we live today.
The Lincoln Highway route passed through the north-central part of Ohio by connecting the best available roads at that time. Driving the original Lincoln through Ohio from east to west will take you through East Liverpool, Lisbon, Canton, Massillon, Dalton, Wooster, Ashland, Mansfield, Bucyrus, Upper Sandusky, Ada, Beaverdam, Lima, Delphos, and Van Wert. But the smaller communities that complete the thirty-nine Lincoln Highway communities in our state are the best gems to re-discover the fading remnants of the early auto era.
Because small communities avoided real estate redevelopment boom times, original buildings and streets remained the same or were minimally re-purposed, allowing the faded “ghost” signs on buildings to remain. In these small burgs, you can still spot the old gas station, the Boy Scout post with the Lincoln medallion and a directional arrow showing the path of the original road, and if you are lucky and insightful, you will discern a new business in an old building intended for early tourists. If traveling with kids, get a game going to spot “Lincoln” in many business names and places.
And then, there is “pie.” That is to say, look for mom n’ pop restaurants and retails along the way that will welcome you with a smile. Remember that piece of pie you haven’t had since Grandma used to bake! Think antiques, old-time hardware stores, five and dimes, community general stores and lots more to discover along the way.
Half the fun is re-discovering the history of this road. Watch for the half-hidden history along the way. Then, imagine traveling this road at a blazing speed of twenty miles per hour, when “paved road” meant a dusty, gravely, hot and pot-holed experience in a bumpy car with open sides and no air conditioning!
Take time to experience this important part of America’s past!
Learn more about Ohio jaunt along the nation’s first coast-to-coast road at www.historicbyway.com/. Information about the rest of the trek is at https://www.lincolnhighwayassoc.org/.
Traveling around Ohio I see the darndest things. Several years ago, I filmed two videos around the same time. One was in Wooster, Ohio and the other in Tipp City, Ohio. What I discovered, I had never seen before but have since seen sweeping the state.
My Wooster stop included Gallery in the Vault at the main corner downtown. I walked into the art gallery and was instantly enamored not only by the visuals throughout but the enormous bank vault facing the door. It was open and inside was a variety of exhibits that all lent to the transformation of this former bank.
The big vault dates back over 100 years to when Citizens National Bank installed it. Later the building became a Bank One branch. In 1995, Gallery in the Vault bought the building and opened for business the following year.
“There’s another vault that hasn’t been opened in decades,” said Judy Schmitt, owner of Gallery in the Vault. “Nobody knows what’s inside it if anything at all.”
This vault has a combination lock but nobody knows it. It would probably take Diebold to come break it open to crack the mystery. But don’t go calling Geraldo Rivera for another TV special because it would probably turn out the same as his infamous two hour special – The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults – empty!
The big vault, also Diebold, is filled with safety deposit boxes. When the old bank sold, all of the boxes were opened. If nobody came with a matching key, the lock was drilled out and opened. During the banking years, the main door to the big vault was set to timed release. Only at that time could two people with separate combinations go to the two separate dials simultaneously to open the big vault door. And there were only two people in the whole bank that had the combinations (one each). If something happened to one of those two people, you’d need to call Diebold in Canton, Ohio.
Gallery in the Vault offers an eclectic mix of handmade items from artists across the country. These are one-of-a-kind offerings. It features art glass, stained glass, pottery, wood, jewelry, original paintings and handmade Tiffany reproduction lamps. These incredible stained glass lamps are made by Cliff Lamborn in Massillon, Ohio. In addition, the gallery does custom picture framing and now has a separate room for its collection of antiques for sale. Gallery in the Vault is located at 105 East Liberty Street across from the Wooster Courthouse and iconic Everything Rubbermaid Store.
I mentioned a second place I had visited with a repurposed bank vault inside a former bank building. This was Coldwater Cafe in Tipp City, Ohio. There, you can dine in the vault. Yes, that’s right, sit at the dining tables inside the vault as if you were anywhere else in the restaurant and enjoy the experience. And what a unique experience it is to walk through the huge vault door and be seated with a menu.
This vault was made by The Mosley Company and was originally the property of Citizens National Bank in Tipp City. The building later became a Fifth Third Bank. The original vault is in the basement but Citizens National added a new vault on the first floor. This is the vault that now serves as a dining room.
No fear, the vault door is locked open. Even back in the day, vaults like this and the one in Wooster have a warning system.
“When the vaults were active, if someone had the unfortunate fate of getting locked inside of it, an emergency handle starts an aerator which brings in fresh air to breathe. It also sounds an alarm and triggers a red flashing warning light,” said Jenny Swiggart, General Manager at Coldwater Cafe and Catering, Inc.
Coldwater Café also has fireplaces adding to the cozy ambience. It opened in 1994 and offers a sophisticated menu with things such as ostrich being served. But it also has normal fare. The restaurant is located at 19 East Main Street in the quaint town of Tipp City, Ohio just a stone’s throw from Dayton.
Since visiting Wooster’s Gallery in the Vault and Tipp City’s Coldwater Café, I have learned of many other places around the state that have acquired old bank buildings and currently use the old vaults within in clever ways.
Maybe one of these are close to you:
Look for us on Facebook to add more to the list.
By Frank R. Satullo, The OhioTraveler
Historic Sauder Village is a standout in Ohio history. This has been a family favorite stop for many over the years. Known as Ohio’s largest living-history village, you are invited to take a step back in time. Authenticity abounds with costumed guides and craftsmen at work. Plenty of hands-on experiences await. In addition to its rich history, it also has delicious food inside the 150 year old Barn Restaurant and dessert at the Doughbox Bakery. Take a stroll through the Village’s 40 shops and historic homes. Spend the night at the campground or in the 98-room country inn. Throughout the year, there are wonderful special events. Click here for more information.
This award recognizes Ohio’s standouts in tourism. More details about the award and all award recipients are at ohiotraveler.com/standouts-in-ohio-tourism/.
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler
Meet. Stay. Play. Grove City, Ohio has something to offer everyone with over a dozen experiences, an outstanding, award-winning Wine and Arts Festival featuring all Ohio-made wines, and a plethora of parks and green space for hiking, animal watching, and more.
Watch the roaming bison in bewilderment at Battelle Darby Creek Metropark. See the park’s herd of six female bison and one bull in their two bison areas. Experience the bison in their natural habitat while enjoying the beauty of the 7,000 acres of prairies, fields and forests. A Metropark naturalist will share the bison’s journey from The Wilds and will answer questions about these magnificent creatures. The Darby creeks are noted nationally for their tremendous diversity and abundance of both aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals.
Live your dream of being a star with an improv class taught by the award-winning troupe from The Little Theatre off Broadway. The hour-long acting class will teach basic acting skills that will bring out the creativity of your group. Then show your acting chops with a short improvisational skit on stage at the historic theatre. If you are more adventurous, take a ghost tour of the theatre. The theatre is said to be haunted by a girl in a high-necked dress with a brooch. Legend has it that loud noises are often heard, and the double doors will sometimes blow open hard as if blown by a violent wind when there is no wind blowing. Who knows who or what you will see! Stay afterward for a show at the historic theatre.
If you are a foodie, Grove City is for you! Start your culinary journey with a unique cooking class at China Bell Restaurant and Event Center. This interactive class teaches you how to make authentic Chinese cuisine from their master chef. Or get creative and try a food sculpting class where you can create a pirate ship out of fruit or a flower out of a carrot! Have a sweet tooth? Learn how the pros do it at Capital City Cakes. Not only will you decorate a cupcake, you also get to enjoy the tasty treat you created. Complete your culinary tour at Plum Run Winery. The winery offers a vineyard tour which consists of three acres of grapes with 16 varieties of grapes planted on the farm. Experience an interactive winemaking demonstration to see how their wines are made. Learn how to bottle, label, and seal your own personal bottle of their delicious vino to take with you. And no wine tour would be complete without wine tasting. Plum Run Winery has a varied array many wonderful wines to sample and enjoy.
Visit Grove City, there is something fantastic for everyone!
Old-fashioned farm tour meets current curriculum standards
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler.
Niederman Family Farm meets many of Ohio’s common core requirements for grades K-6.
Agriculture used to be an American way of life, something you just knew. Today, it’s something taught, but not in the traditional sense or classroom – at least not on Niederman Family Farm. Perhaps Southwest Ohio’s largest classroom, this farm opens its 210 acres to busloads of school children every spring and fall so they can learn about a lifestyle all but forgotten, yet still critical to our local and national economy.
Unfortunately, many farming communities have been overrun by suburban sprawl. Niederman Farm is one of the holdouts found between Cincinnati and Dayton. The massive loss of farms across the Midwest has left generations of children removed from the seeds that sowed America since its birth. But the Niederman family is changing that one group at a time.
“We run a working farm and use Agritourism to bring a unique educational opportunity to kids in an entertaining way,” said Bethann Niederman of Niederman Family Farm.
Science and Social Studies are two of the main ingredients the Niedermans work into the educational mix. Science is learned through daily and seasonal changes while food grows and is harvested. It covers the physical and behavioral traits of living things and the need for food, water and shelter.
“The kids flip out over Bessie!” said Brian Garver, Manager at Niederman Family Farm. “She’s a mechanical cow that kids can actually milk. They get to touch live animals in the large and small animal barns, too, as a way to teach basic needs of living things.”
But not to worry parents, every student is required to use the hand sanitizer provided at every station or classroom.
The Science Studies curriculum also features lessons on sun, energy and weather covered in the self-guided pumpkin school and the basic needs of living things.
The Social Studies curriculum covers the generations of heritage farming, food dependence and the farmer’s rainbow (“food pyramid”). Scarcity – the importance of not wasting – is also featured along with a class on production and consumption focusing on community produced goods.
“We cover a lot more than this,” said Garver. “Our web site has a comprehensive list of Common Core requirements we meet shown under the farm tours section.”
Spring and fall are also ideal seasons to get kids out of the classroom to an outdoor setting that still serves as an educational classroom. Both spring and fall tours are currently booking at Niederman Family Farm. To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the new farmhands are finished with an honest day’s work and have filled their heads with newfound knowledge, a piece of the farm follows them back to their classrooms. Special teaching aids, programs and agri-learning tools prepared in traveling kits for teachers continue the lesson long after leaving Niederman Family Farm.
The Niederman family continues to adapt, educate, entertain and grow memories for school kids every year. As a farming family in its fourth generation, they have a lot of knowledge to share. Three generations of Niedermans currently live and work on the farm. They take pleasure in offering insight to today’s farms as well as a nostalgic look back at farming in America.
Niederman Family Farm is located at 5110 LeSourdesville-West Chester Road in Liberty Township, Ohio between Cincinnati and Dayton. Reservations for spring tours are required. Call 513-779-6184, email email@example.com or visit www.niedermanfamilyfarm.com.
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler
A unique trip to history awaits in Southeast Ohio
Nestled in Ohio’s gorgeous Appalachian foothills is the former industrial powerhouse known as Nelsonville. Once an important center, it was home to the Nelsonville Brick Company, opening in the later 1870s. It produced several million bricks during its existence, including the very famous sidewalk bricks known as Star Bricks because of the star design on the top of each brick. During this same time, the coal industry was also expanding rapidly, as the coal in the area was some of the best in the world at the time.
As a result, several railroads were built in the area, including what ultimately became the Hocking Valley Railway. This railroad was the largest independent railroad contained entirely within the state of Ohio, spanning from Toledo, Ohio, to Athens –home of Ohio University–and the Ohio River town of Pomeroy, Ohio. Nelsonville was a major junction for the railroad, as it was one of the principle yards for putting together the coal trains to head north to Lake Erie. At one time, the Nelsonville yard was one of the largest in the world when it was built. Eventually, the coal industry played out, the Hocking Valley Railway became part of the Chesapeake & Ohio and Nelsonville transitioned from industrial powerhouse to tourist, history and art center.
Enter the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway. This all-volunteer, non-profit organization has been providing family-friendly train rides from historic Nelsonville since 1972. The primary diesel locomotives used date back to 1952, while the coaches passengers get a chance to ride in were built anywhere from 1917 to the 1960s. “We absolutely love what we do. That we get to restore and operate such historic equipment in such a beautiful, historic area is worth every bit of it,” says volunteer Chris Burchett. He’s been helping out around the railroad since 1997. “The kids love it, absolutely,” he continued. “Plus the fact that the kids from many years ago are now bringing their kids, not to mention grandkids, now is amazing to say the least. The people we have here are top-notch. We hope everyone has a chance to ride the train with us.”
Trains depart the Nelsonville Depot—a replica of an original Hocking Valley depot in Rising Sun, Ohio—each Saturday and Sunday at Noon and 2:30 from Memorial Day weekend through the end of October. Then there are several themed trains operating throughout the year, including the Easter Bunny Train, Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery, Fall Foliage, All-Caboose, Santa Trains, and New Year’s Eve Train.
As the weekend train winds through the Hocking River Valley, it passes through such former company towns as East Clayton and Haydenville. Haydenville was the last company town in Ohio and several of the unique brick company houses are still standing, as well as the beautiful church, though the old brick plant that the town was built around is long gone. The orginal brick Haydenville train depot built in 1903 still stands as well, and is currently in the process of being restored, with the hope of it being a stop once again. As the train continues up the line, it comes to stop just outside Logan where it reverses direction and heads back toward Nelsonville. Remnants of the 1830s-built Hocking Canal parallel the tracks as well and the historic, nearly-complete Lock No. 19 can be easily seen from the train. Before the ride ends, though, the train arrives on the Hocking College campus and its recreated 1850s Ohio pioneer village known as Robbins Crossing. Here visitors have a chance to see a working blacksmith shop, candle-making, yarn spinning, craft-making, and much more. All buildings are original area log cabins that have been moved and carefully restored. Visitors have a chance to walk through the village self-guided for about thirty minutes before the train departs and the journey comes to end in Nelsonville about two hours after the initial departure.
Along with the history of the area, passengers have a great opportunity to take in the beautiful natural sights along the way. And the different historical notes and sites, as well as the general area history, are pointed out during the trip by way of the on-board live narration.
As for tickets and information, the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway has put together an informative Web site at www.hockingvalleytrain.org. And the friendly staff for their toll-free number is very helpful as well. Tickets average about $15 and the train rides average about two hours in length. While the coaches are not handicap accessible, as it is vintage equipment, there is a wheelchair lift available at the Nelsonville Depot. And let’s not forget that parking is free in any of the three lots around the depot, which is located next to the famous Rocky Boots Outdoor Gear Store along Business Route 33 (Canal Street).
Check out the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway at www.hockingvalleytrain.org, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hvsry, Twitter at @hvscenicrailway, or give them a call toll-free at 800-967-7834.
Summer is here and it’s time to get out and have a fun day with the family!