Secret & Lost Amusement Parks

The Secret and Lost Amusement Parks of Ohio

What can be better than going to an amusement park to ride roller-coasters? How about going to a park with coasters but its rarely open to the public. Ah, anyone getting an image of golden tickets to enter the Willie Wonka Chocolate Factory?

Well, it’s kind of like that.

Stricker’s Grove in Hamilton, Ohio is open to the public only four times a year: Fourth of July; Family Day, which is always the second Sunday in August; Labor Day; and Customer Appreciation Day, which is in October.

Ralph Stricker is the only person in the United States to build his own coaster. Construction was started in November, 1990 and completed in June, 1993. The Tornado is a wooden roller coaster. The second roller coaster at this little-known amusement park is the Teddy Bear. The original Teddy Bear was located in kiddie land at Coney Island in Cincinnati. Ralph Stricker obtained the blueprints and rebuilt the Teddy Bear at Stricker’s Grove.

The park also has a train, Ferris wheel, Merry Go Round, Scrambler, Tilt A Whirl, pirate ship, flying scooters and other rides, including kiddie cars, boats and rockets.  In addition to the rides, Stricker’s Grove also has an 18 hole miniature golf course, arcade with video games and skeeball, shooting gallery, horseshoes and more.

Stricker’s Grove is a family-owned and operated private amusement park available to rent to groups, organizations, and churches for family picnics, wedding receptions, meetings, etc. for groups of 500 or more from mid-May to early October. Unlike most other parks, Stricker’s Grove only rents to one group most of the time, therefore, guaranteeing complete privacy without the hassle of sharing the park and picnic facilities.  For more park information, click here.

Stricker’s Grove may be Ohio’s best kept secret as far as amusement parks go but some parks of its nature are forever lost to time.

Chippewa Lake Amusement Park was located at Chippewa Lake south of Cleveland. It operated for 100 years, finally closing in 1978 due to the lack of attendance. After the park died, it birthed renewed interest but for all the wrong reasons. Although it closed for good, its rides remained largely intact but neglected for the next 30 years. It became a stunning site as nature grew around the fun park’s once colorful rides. Perhaps the most picturesque scene today is the Ferris wheel that still stands but with an enormous tree that grew up from the ground, dead center, and now shoots through the top, towering over the rusted metal frame. Much of the decay began to pose such safety issues for trespassers that over recent years, rides such as the old wooden roller-coaster were turned to rubble. Here is a video of what was still left behind as recently as just a few years ago. Click here to play the video.

LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park was located in Middletown, Ohio where signs of its past are still there. The park dates back to 1922 when it was a family retreat for picnicking, mostly. It added rides in the 1940s and became a regional amusement park that served up summer memories for generations. In the 1970s it changed its name to Americana Amusement Park. But in 1990 a freak electrical fire did millions of dollars worth of damage. It struggled afterward. Nearby Kings Island contributed to that. Finally, it closed its turnstiles in 1999. It came up for one last gasp of air in 2002, reclaiming its original name but this rebirth was short-lived. Since then, its rides were demolished and sold off.

A more recent casualty of the amusement park world is Geauga Lake in Aurora, Ohio. It was one of the big-3 amusement parks in the state and was also one of the oldest. It had major roller-coasters that competed with Cedar Point. But with Cedar Point’s world acclaim, perhaps the northern part of Ohio just wasn’t big enough to support the two major parks. However, it wasn’t the first major park to shutter its doors at Geauga Lake. There was a time in the 1970s when one side of the lake hosted the amusement park and the other was home to Sea World. Sea World Ohio lasted from 1970 to 2000. The site later became a water park. As for Geauga Lake Park (which was renamed Six Flags Worlds of Adventure for a time), its rides were auctioned off and the park stripped down to its skeleton leaving modern day ruins still awaiting new development.

One survivor of the small and regional amusement park mass extinction that has occurred over the past several decades is Memphis Kiddie Park.

Memphis Kiddie Park in Brooklyn, Ohio is an amusement park for toddlers and preschoolers. Here, you hope that you’re shorter than the height stick! There are about a dozen rides, including North America’s oldest steel kiddie roller-coaster. Other nostalgic favorites include the train ride, airplane ride, boat ride, a little Ferris wheel, Merry-Go-Round and more. It’s a survivor of a bygone era when kiddie parks thrived. This one remains family-operated. Located in an old Cleveland neighborhood, it is a delight for generations of tiny thrill-seekers and parents alike. But this decades old secret is getting out and folks from afar are making the trek to this little amusement wonder for their toddlers to enjoy. For park information, click here.

And then there are the two modern day mega amusement parks thriving to this day in Ohio – Kings Island in Mason, Ohio and Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.  Cedar Point Amusement Park is the reigning “Roller Coaster Capital of the World!”

There’s no secret about that.

By Rocco Satullo, author of Here I Thought I Was Normal and Earth Things.

Yep, There’s A Museum for That!

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.

By Rocco Satullo, author of Here I Thought I Was Normal and Earth Things.

America’s First Coast-to-Coast Road

 

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/.

Yesteryear is Here

wayne county historical society mill village

All history is local. If you are traveling the modern streets of Rome, look to one side or another and you may see over a railing down to an excavation revealing what the community looked like thousands of years ago. The contrast is such that you lose yourself for a moment in wonder. So too is it – albeit on a smaller scale – when you drive through a small town in America and suddenly there’s a downtown within a downtown, both hundreds of years apart.

With globalization we have learned so much about so many things on a grand scale, we yearn for new discoveries. Adventurous minds have made remarkable finds in the nooks and crannies of history, often unearthing a vein of gold in the form of fascinating stories that capture the imagination at a local level.   ….Read More….

Click here to read the rest of the story

Life On The Tow Path

Monticello III

Nostalgia is at its best when a bygone era is brought back to life through the personality and passion of a mom and pop operation. It’s the extra touch like seeing a wheelchair and getting out the ramp so nobody even has to ask. Whether it’s a couple, family on a daytrip or a large group tour, there’s one goal – send everyone home happy and with plenty to talk about.

“We’re in the memory making business,” grinned Tom Roahrig. ….Read More….

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Golf, Shopping, or BOTH?

Located on I-75 just 30 miles north of Dayton, Ohio you’ll find a wonderful variety of golf courses and gift shops for that perfect couple’s getaway.

Get your group together, pick a weekend, and set your GPS for Sidney Ohio.  Those with a passion for shopping will find a wonderful variety of locally owned boutiques and specialty shops to explore.  Allison’s Custom Jewelry has been a favorite of many for years.  Twenty-two display cases of beautiful, handcrafted jewelry adorn this spectacular shop. At Allison’s, diamonds, gems, polished stones, gold, sterling, and crystals can each be admired in their natural brilliance.  Unique gifts accompany their stunning jewelry selections and the staff at Allison’s, well, you won’t find any more friendly or knowledgeable.

Looking for a new handbag? CR Designs in Sidney is an amazing boutique offering affordable women’s accessories including handbags, wallets, jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, and more. CR Designs also carries a nice line of unique home accent décor for every home decorating taste.

In downtown Sidney, your day of shopping won’t be complete without a visit to The Ivy Garland.  This all occasion gift shop is located on the beautiful and historic Shelby County court square and features purses, gifts for the home, fashion accessories, along with fresh and artificial floral arrangements.  A nice selection of coffee shops, diners, and restaurants can also be enjoyed on the square if you’re looking for a place to set down your packages and plan your next three shopping stops.

Okay.  You’re now refreshed and reenergized.  Let’s talk home interiors.  Perhaps one of the most interesting and unique shops anywhere is Gallery 2:TEN in Sidney.  Owner and artist Mila Hamilton describes her “out of the ordinary store” as furniture and decor rescued and renewed with paint, prayer and purpose.  On display you’ll discover the works of more than 40 local artisans.  Custom finishes are given to rescued furniture and accessories while new art is being created all the time.  Acrylics, oils, watercolors, pottery, fired glass, jewelry, gourd art, wood carvings, metal sculpture, and more.  Gallery 2:TEN offers  personal gift ideas and one-of-a-kind décor for the home.  In addition guests will be delighted to find a carefully selected assortment of wine, craft beer, and domestic beer for later enjoyment.

Interiors by Alice is another wonderful home interiors and specialty gift shop in Sidney.  Fashion accessories, florals, jewelry, and one of a kind “something specials” adorn this quaint space.

Before calling it a day, a visit to RE:Vive Home Décor and More is a must.  This expansive shop features local artists and art, painted furniture, home decor, pottery, blown glass, gifts, books and so much more.  In-shop floral services accompany their truly unique blend of yesterday with today.

Other “can’t miss” shop and browse locations on your Sidney shopping spree include Silver Linings Booktique, Believe Art From the Heart, and the Sidney Flower Shop.  For wearables, how about a quick visit to Ron & Nita’s and Threads.  Both can be found in downtown Sidney on the Shelby County court square.

Now, let’s talk golf.  Sidney has a unique blend of area golf courses sure to satisfy most golfing enthusiasts.  Shelby Oaks Golf Club offers 27 holes of championship golf, a driving range, practice green, fully stocked pro shop and grill.  Looking to put your golfing skills to the test, Shelby Oaks is ranked 12th on a list of the top 100 Toughest Golf Courses in the Miami Valley.  The North-South course combination measures 6,561 yards from the tips and features generous fairways with spacious and well-manicured greens.  The West course plays a bit longer than the North or South and presents itself as a links style layout.  Players are wise to take caution when approaching number 7 West, a 125 yard par 3 where you hit to an island green.  The locals say that many a good round quickly came to a close on this shorter, but challenging water hole.

Arrowhead Golf Club is a well-conditioned layout just 20 minutes from Sidney.  Arrowhead offers 18 championship holes, driving range, practice green, fully stocked pro shop, and the Bunker Restaurant for a bite to eat and cold beverage.  Playing 6,275 from the back tees, Arrowhead is characterized by ample fairways, fast greens, aesthetic bunkering, and strategically placed water hazards.  Hungry and thirsty golfers will enjoy their time after golf relaxing on the outdoor patio with drinks and a full service lunch/dinner menu.

Those looking for a more unique golf experience are sure to enjoy the Moose Lodge Golf Course in Sidney.  Measuring just 2,580 yards, the Moose will challenge the average player to use every club in their bag in navigating this tight nine-hole layout.  Established in 1917 as the original Shelby County Country Club, the Moose Golf Course features well-conditioned fairways, smallish greens, and strategically placed bunkers.  Don’t let its length fool you.  The Moose is a legitimate test for most players at all skill levels.

Now… where to go for dinner?  In Sidney, your options are many.  Everything from grab it and go meals to fine dining.  Sports bars, locally owned establishments, and national chains will welcome you with a warm smile, a cold drink, and a delicious meal.  Overnight options are varied as well with a nice selection of recognizable brand hotels, a locally owned bed and breakfast, and even camping at nearby Lake Loramie State Park.

Come visit Sidney, Ohio… They’re waiting for you. Start planning your next two-day getaway at www.VisitSidneyShelby.com.

Live-Action Graphic Novel

Aliens to Invade the Southern Theatre on March 12, 2017 with The Live-Action Graphic Novel The Intergalactic Nemesis: Target Earth

Telling an all-ages adventure story set in the 1930s, The Intergalactic Nemesis mashes up comic book and radio-play formats into a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience—the live-action graphic novel. Three actors voice dozens of characters, a Foley artist creates all the sound effects, and a pianist performs the cinematic score while more than 1,250 full-color, high-resolution comic book panels tell the hilarious, sci-fi adventure story of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Molly Sloan and her quest to defeat a terrible threat to the future of humanity—an invading force of sludge monsters from the planet Zygon.

When The Intergalactic Nemesis Live-Action Graphic Novel premiered, more than 2,100 people turned out. Shortly thereafter, it was featured on NPR and “Conan O’Brien.” Now in its third touring season, the production has hit more than 80 venues around the US, UK, and Canada, including a run at the New Victory Theatre on Broadway. This one-of-a-kind, all-ages show is not to be missed.

The premise is simple—a period adventure story (with no small share of laughs) featuring Pulitzer-winning reporter Molly Sloan, her intrepid assistant Timmy Mendez, and a mysterious librarian named Ben Wilcott as they face the most serious threat Earth has ever known—an impending alien invasion.

The telling is what makes the experience of The Intergalactic Nemesis so incredibly unique. Three actors, one Foley artist, and one keyboardist perform all the voices, sound effects, and music, more than 1,000 hand-drawn, full-color, hi-resolution, blow-your-mind comic-book images blast from the screen, all performed live.

Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) presents The Intergalactic Nemesis: Target Earth at the Southern Theatre (21 E. Main St.) on Sunday, March 12, at 7 pm. Tickets are $28-$40 at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.

For more information, visit www.capa.com.

Endangered Puppies Born

A litter of six endangered painted dog puppies recently born at The Wilds have begun making their public debuts! After weeks of being cared for exclusively by their mother and the other pack members, the pups have begun exploring the publically visible areas of The Wilds property.

“The Wilds has managed painted dogs for years, but this is our first successful litter,” said Dan Beetem, director of animal management at The Wilds. “Even though we assembled a new pack last year in order to provide the younger dogs with the greatest opportunity to breed, we remained cautiously optimistic. Young mothers are often not successful with their first, or even second, litter. But Quinn, a first-time mom, surprised us by being an attentive caregiver from the start.”

Painted dogs (Lycaon pictus), also known as African wild dogs, are one of Africa’s most endangered species. These dogs have disappeared from much of their former range throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and their populations are continuing to decline; researchers estimate that only about 6,600 painted dogs are left in their native regions. Challenges with humans are the main threats to their survival, and the painted dog populations have declined due to continued habitat fragmentation, conflict with human activities, and infectious disease, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

Operated by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and located in Cumberland, Ohio, The Wilds – one of the country’s largest conservation centers – is helping to protect this species’ future by participating in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) program, which is coordinated to increase genetic diversity and population sustainability of threatened and endangered species in managed care. Additionally, the Zoo’s conservation fund has supported 10 wild dog conservation projects in six countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. These grants cover training scouts in protected areas, educating children in local communities, recording populations in native regions, developing conservation corridors, reducing human conflict, and developing an effective rabies vaccine.

“At The Wilds, we are in a unique position to preserve some of the planet’s most amazing and most endangered animals,” The Wilds Vice President Rick Dietz said. “We are overjoyed and honored to welcome a new generation of African painted dogs, which could easily go extinct in our lifetimes if we don’t cooperate to save these animals.”

The pups’ mom, Quinn, came to The Wilds with her sister, Selina, in the spring of 2016. The sisters were both born at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in 2015. The pups’ father, Onyx, age 7, was born at the Honolulu Zoo. The pack assembly was in accordance to a recommendation by the SSP.

Quinn’s pups, four females and two males born December 16, 2016, received their first health examinations on Monday. Prior to this time, The Wilds’ animal care team had been observing Quinn’s behavior remotely through a camera mounted in the dogs’ den. Because Quinn and the other dogs were providing the pups with good care, staff did not disturb her during this important initial rearing opportunity. Now at about 8 weeks old, the pups have been exploring beyond the den.

The Wilds plans to provide opportunities for visitors to meet the whole pack at the Carnivore Center this summer. In the meantime, guests on the Winter at The Wilds Tours may be able to catch a glimpse of the pups. 

The Wilds, one of the largest conservation centers in North America, is home to rare and endangered animals from around the world along with hundreds of indigenous species. The mission of The Wilds, a nonprofit organization, is to advance conservation through science, education and personal experience. The Wilds is located at 14000 International Road in Cumberland, Ohio, about 90 minutes east of Columbus. Normal hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day from May through September, and on Saturdays and Sundays in October. For more information, visit www.thewilds.org.