June 2008 Issue
Tour Ohio's Best Hometowns
Each year, Ohio Magazine honors five communities that offer an exceptional lifestyle for residents. See why these towns are also great places to visit.
Jessica Esemplare, Linda Feagler, Jennifer Haliburton, Ashley Harrington, and Elizabeth Weinstein
It’s hard to imagine that the tranquil, tree-lined streets of Bowling Green were once part of the Great Black Swamp: dark, mucky wetlands that stretched from the western end of Lake Erie to northeastern Indiana. When settlers drained the land in the mid-to-late 1800s, they discovered some of the most agriculturally productive soil in the country — a rich resource for what grew to be a farming community.
Bowling Green’s heritage is chronicled at the Wood County Historical Center & Museum, housed in the former Wood County Infirmary that operated as a working farm for the poor from 1869 to 1971. The museum’s exhibits illustrate the years before the city’s first settler, Elisha Martindale, claimed the land in 1832, and educate guests about the Ottawa, Shawnee and Miami Indian tribes who called this region their home from as early as the late 1600s until the 1830s. MORE >>
“Chillicothe,” a Shawnee word meaning “principal town,” is a fitting name for this charming, picturesque community in the rolling hills of Appalachian Ohio. Chillicothe was the state’s first capital (from 1803 to 1809), and to this day remains a town
steeped in history, culture and tradition.
History buffs of all ages will find much to admire during a visit to Chillicothe, from guided tours of historical and architectural treasures, to a view of the humbling earthworks at the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, to taking in a performance of the outdoor drama “Tecumseh!”
After driving into town via Bridge Street, park your car and set out on foot for a tour of the town’s historic First Capital district. Local historian Kevin B. Coleman, who dresses in the garb of a citizen of 1803, offers guided tours of all aspects of the town. His First Capital tour takes visitors on a half-hour scenic and educational stroll down Paint Street, explaining, along the way, the history of the town’s architecture. MORE >>
Embracing Tradition With picnic baskets and blankets in hand, they begin congregating at 6 p.m., scoping out that special spot
where they’ll spend the evening: For some, it will be in the shade of one of the magnificent oak trees that have become city landmarks. Others will opt for one of the half-dozen park benches that dot the town square.
For more than a decade at this time of year, Thursday nights in Independence have been reserved for fellowship with friends and neighbors at the summer band concerts that begin like clockwork at 7 p.m. rain or shine. (When the occasional cloudburst does occur, the show is moved into the civic center nearby.) This year — as always –– the music will span a noteworthy gamut, ranging from a selection of polka favorites to traditional ballads and
rock standards, much of it performed by the community’s barbershop quartet and town band. MORE >>
Visit any river town and you’re likely to find residents who embrace the historical beauty of their city. Miamisburg, located about eight miles south of Dayton on the banks of the Miami River, is no exception. Visitors are welcomed by a life-sized bronze sculpture of a Miami Indian cupping water in his hand, a tribute to the town’s Native American heritage.
Miamisburg’s roots date to 1000 B.C., when the Adena Indians occupied parts of the Ohio River Valley. During that time, they constructed the burial ground that is now known as the Miamisburg Mound. It stands 65 feet tall and 877 feet in circumference, making it the largest conical earthwork in Ohio. Visitors can stop by Mound Park, located about a mile from town, and climb the 116 steps for breathtaking views that stretch to the Miami River. MORE >>
It takes only a day trip for travelers to recognize what residents have long known about Delaware: It offers the best of both worlds.
who attend Ohio Wesleyan University, the college town’s attraction lies in its vibrancy –– an atmosphere emphasized by a burgeoning arts scene and hip coffee-shop hangouts.
For longtime locals, it’s the former farming community’s laidback feel – apparent in lovingly preserved, 19th-century buildings in its historic downtown and vintage spots like the Strand Theatre, which screens classic films. MORE >>