August 2008 Issue
A Road Trip to the Past
Tour the state's seven designated heritage areas for an enjoyable lesson in Ohio history.
Gas prices got you down? Fear not. An Ohio road trip is just what you need to satisfy a yen for
And if history is what you're looking for, the state is chock-full of heritage destinations. Each is guaranteed to provide you with a glimpse into an area’s culture, traditions and customs. We’ll help you uncover some of the best heritage attractions in the state — many you already know and others you’ve never encountered. Ohio has it all, from canal boats to submarines, rolling hills to lake beaches. But it doesn’t stop there. We take a look at museums, railroads, nature centers, Indian mounds, courthouses, opera houses and mills. There really is no end to the adventures within Ohio’s borders.
Now that we’ve given you the lowdown, what are you waiting for? The money you save on gas, along with low or no admission prices at many of these locations, will leave you wondering why you waited this long to plan your Ohio Heritage Driving Tour
Lake Erie Coastal
The shores of Lake Erie brim with tales of yesteryear. Celebrating the maritime heritage and natural landscape that make this area unique, the Lake Erie Coastal tour also travels inland a ways, for a peek at other historical destinations.
Begin your exploration at some of the most spectacular lakefront property in the state —Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve. This is not a sunbathing beach. Instead, it is one of the few stretches of untamed beachfront available to the public. The 25-acre preserve is a natural shoreline with sandy beach, sand dunes, oak forests and marshlands. Northern edge of St. Rte. 44, Painesville Township, 440/632-3010. Dawn to dusk.
After leaving the serenity of Headlands, navigate your way westward into Cleveland. The International Women’s Air & Space Museum, housed in the west hallway of Burke Lakefront Airport, features displays on pioneers such as Madame Blanchard (Napoleon’s Chief Air Minister of Ballooning), Katharine Wright (the Wright Brothers’ sister), Sally Ride (first American woman to fly in space) and Amelia Earhart (American aviator). 1501 N. Marginal Rd., Cleveland, 216/623-1111. Call for hours. Admission free.
Just down the street is theUSS Cod, the only publicly accessible submarine that has not been altered for visitors. This 312-foot Gato class submarine served seven successful war patrols until it was brought to Cleveland as a naval reserve training vessel in 1959. In 1976, a local organization gained ownership of the submarine and opened it as a tourist attraction. North Marginal Dr., Cleveland, 216/566-8770. www.uss cod.org. Open May 1–Sept. 30, daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission $6, seniors $5, students $3, children 3 and under free.
Travel west to Bay Village and the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. This amazing nonprofit center believes in experiential learning, one that allows visitors to touch many of the animals. There are more than 100 creatures on site, including two red foxes, a bald eagle and several turtles. Many are former rehab patients of the center. 28728 Wolf Rd., Bay Village, 440/871-2900. Daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission free; donations encouraged.
Farther west in Vermilion is the
Bacon House Museum & Carriage Barn at Mill Hollow. The house, built in 1845, once belonged to Benjamin Bacon, one of the first Lorain County commissioners and a wealthy citizen of that era. Furnished with pieces from the Bacon family, the Greek Revival-style structure is representative of 19th-century life in the area. 51211 N. Ridge Rd., Vermilion, 440/967-7310. Wed.–Sun. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Admission free.
Complete this tour at The Edison Birthplace Museum. Most famous for inventing the light bulb and phonograph, Thomas Edison held more than 1,000 patents. The Edison family moved to Milan in the 1840s, and Edison was born in 1847. One-hour, guided tours discuss the inventor and his inventions. 9 N. Edison Dr., Milan, 419/499-2135. www. tomedison.org. One-hour, guided tours Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 1–5 p.m. Admission $6, seniors $5, children $3.
Maumee Valley heritage corridor
The northwestern corner of the state is another great travel destination, with its open expanses of land and small, historic towns along the Maumee River. Venture into the area’s diverse museums, and wander through its breathtaking parks and preserves.
The Nettle Lake Indian Mounds are located in Williams County in the far northwest corner of the state, bordering Michigan and Indiana. These Hopewell Indian mounds are from 1 to 3 feet high and 18 to 30 feet in diameter. Nettle Lake is a 15,000-year-old natural inland lake, and the mounds are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One mile from the Nettle Lake boat access, Montpelier, 419/485-8200.
Travel southeast to the historic town of Defiance. Walk the same grounds where Native Americans once hunted, and enjoy the beautiful view at the confluence of the Maumee, Tiffin and Auglaize Rivers. Then, spend some time at Fort Defiance and nearby Auglaize Village. 419/782-7946.
The next stop is the American Civil War Museum of Ohio in Bowling Green. Visitors can try on reproduction clothing, learn about the daily lives of Civil War soldiers and watch a video about Ohio’s role in the Civil War. Kids especially love the 4-by-8-foot diorama. The museum also features exhibits on prisoner-of-war camps in Ohio. 123 E. Court St., Bowling Green, 419/352-0209. www.acwmo.org. Tues., Thur. & Fri. 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 12–4 p.m. Admission $5, seniors $4, students $2.50, families $13.
Return to the banks of the Maumee River and the town of Waterville, home to the Toledo, Lake Erie & Western Railway & Museum. Board the Bluebird passenger train for a 15-mile, 90-minute tour through the countryside. After the train ride, get an up-close look at the museum’s four locomotives, cabooses, tank cars, hopper car and sleeper. 49 North Sixth St., Waterville, 866/63-TRAIN. www. tlew.org. Wed. & Thur. 10:30 a.m., noon & 1:30 p.m. June–Aug.; Sat. & Sun. 1, 2:30 & 4 p.m. year-round. Admission $11, seniors $10, children (3–12) $7.50, under 3 free.
Head north into Toledo to see the only museum in the world devoted to the 19th-century art form known as lithophanes. The Blair Museum of Lithophanes, located at the Toledo Botanical Garden, boasts more than 2,300 of these delicate porcelain pictures, making it the largest collection in the world. 5403 Elmer Dr., Toledo, 419/245-1356. www. lithophanemuseum.org. Sat. & Sun. 1–4 p.m. Admission free.
Prepare to relax at the last stop on this tour: Maumee Bay State Park. Situated along the shores of Lake Erie, this park is a great outdoor destination, with plenty of boating, swimming, golfing and hiking. The Trautman Nature Center is equipped with viewing windows and interactive displays. Learn about the history of the area, a time when a much bigger Lake Erie stretched from western New York to Fort Wayne, Indiana. 1400 State Park Rd., Oregon, 419/836-7758.
Miami & Erie Canal Corridor
There was a time when canals were the primary means of transportation in the state. This driving tour is an opportunity to explore that historic form of transportation — and the communities that emerged along it. So, walk the towpath. Visit the public squares. In the process, you’ll develop a greater understanding of what life was like during the Canal Era.
Begin this tour in downtown Van Wert, the location of one of the most interesting architectural structures in the area — the Van Wert County Courthouse. The actual building hasn’t changed much since it was built at a cost of $110,174 in 1876, and today it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Interestingly, the pressed brick used to construct the building was made at a local mill. The clock’s bell weighs 2,000 pounds, and its clapper weighs 430 pounds.
121 East Main St., Van Wert, 419/238-6159. Mon.–Fri. 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m.; call ahead for a guided tour. Admission free.
Next, the town of Lima is home to the MacDonell House Victorian Mansion. Part of the Allen County Museum Complex, this 1890s mansion boasts more than 15 rooms, with decor that
is reminiscent of the great wealth Allen County experienced during the oil boom era. See intricately carved woodwork, a two-story stained-glass window, a grand staircase and more. 632 W. Market St., Lima, 419/222-9426. Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 1–5 p.m. Admission free.
Also in Lima, the Lincoln Park Railway Exhibit features a Nickel Plate 779, the last steam engine ever built at the Lima Locomotive Works. Visitors can also see a luxurious private car, built in 1883, a Nickel Plate caboose built in 1882 and an 1895 country station from the DT&I Railroad. Corner of Elm and Shawnee Streets, Lima, 419/221-5195. Call ahead for an appointment. Admission free.
Head southwest to St. Marys for a lesson in canal-era history. Take a walking tour that includes Memorial Park, created after World War I as a memorial to veterans. The park houses theBelle of St. Marys canal boat, a clock tower and Memorial Covered Bridge. Downtown St. Marys, 800/392-4883.
Don’t overlook the small town of Bremen and the Bicycle Museum of America, a special treat for all ages. The museum has more than 300 examples on display, from the earliest bicycles to the most modern. The collection includes a bicycle outfitted for the U.S. Army infantry in World War I, some of the earliest bicycles built for two (riders sat side-by-side), the world’s oldest bicycle (1816) and Sting-Rays from the 1960s. 7 West Monroe St., New Bremen, 419/629-9249. www.bicyclemuseum. com. Call for hours. Admission $3, seniors $2, students $1.
Don’t leave this tour without a ride on the General Harrison Canal Boat at the Piqua Historical Area. This is a replica of a 70-foot-long mixed cargo canal boat that was used to transport passengers and cargo during the 19th century. Costumed guides direct the mule-drawn boat for an authentic ride down the canal. 9845 North Hardin Rd., Piqua, 800/752-2619. Wed.–Sat. 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 12–5 p.m. Admission $8, children (6–12) $4, children 5 and under free.
Ohio & Erie Canalway
This heritage area reveals vast differences in population as it ventures through small towns and large, urban areas. In the early 1800s, the Ohio & Erie Canal connected Lake Erie with the Ohio River, and that played a significant role in transforming the state into a commercial and industrial powerhouse. Today, visitors can still witness the major influence this waterway had on the state, its people and the landscape.
The Goodtime III is a 1,000-passenger, quadruple-deck excursion ship that sails from Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor down the Cuyahoga River and into Lake Erie. The two-hour, narrated cruise navigates through 17 bridges or abutments, providing a backyard view of Cleveland’s skyline and Flats district. 825 E. Ninth St. Pier, Cleveland, 216/861-5110. www.goodtimeiii.com. Tues.–Sat. noon & 3 p.m., Sun. 1 & 3:30 p.m. Admission $15, seniors $14, children (2–11) $9.
Once you’re back on dry land, drive over to Lake View Cemetery, the burial place of several prominent citizens, such as John D. Rockefeller, James A. Garfield and Eliot Ness. Pick up a self-guided audio tour at the office, or explore specific sites such as the Garfield Monument, built in memory of the 20th president of the United States, or Wade Chapel, built in honor of Jeptha Wade, founder of The Western Union Telegraph Company. 12316 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 216/421-2665. www.lakeview
cemetery.com. Daily 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Drive south into Cuyahoga Valley National Park to see the spectacular 60-foot-tall Brandywine Falls. Brandywine Creek was formed about 10,000 years ago after the last glacial retreat. Today the falls have exposed the harder, yellow-brown Berea Sandstone and the softer, deep-red Bedford Shale. A nearby exhibit includes a photo of the waterfalls, an area map and a cross-section drawing of the rocks, which formed more than 400 million years ago. 8176 Brandywine Rd., Sagamore Hills, 216/524-1497. Daily dawn to dusk.
The Boston Store is located just north of Peninsula — and not far from the waterfalls. Built in 1836, the building was once a warehouse, store and post office, but it now serves as a visitor center and canal-boat-building museum for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Exhibits trace the
history of canals in Ohio, as well as the construction of canal boats. This is also a terrific spot to hike or bike along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. 1548 Boston Mills Rd., Boston Township, 216/524-1497. Daily 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Head south to Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For 45 years, the Hall of Fame has been honoring football legends and preserving the history of the sport. After several expansions, a major gallery renovation took place in 2003, bringing the facility to its current size of 83,000 square feet. 2121 George Halas Dr. NW, Canton, 330/456-8207. www.profootballhof.com. Call for hours. Admission $18, seniors $15, children (6–14) $12, children 5 and under free.
Complete this tour at Lanterman’s Mill in Mill Creek Metro Parks. Originally built in 1845 and restored between 1982 and 1985, the mill represents one of the many pioneer industries developed along the creek. Today, it is still fully operational, grinding corn, wheat and buckwheat just as it did in the past. Don’t leave without a visit to the gift shop, where you can purchase some of the stone-ground cornmeal, buckwheat and whole-wheat flour. Located off St. Rte. 62, southwest of Youngstown, 330/740-7107. Tues.–Fri. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Ohio Hill Country
Laid-back and beautiful: That’s how folks often describe the 29 counties that make up the Ohio Hill Country heritage area. Much of this part of the state is rural, set against a backdrop of rolling hills and stunning scenery. This is Ohio’s Appalachian Region, and it’s overflowing with scenic byways, historic sites, arts and culture.
Prepare to put in some time behind the wheel as you begin your Southeast Ohio exploration in Carrollton, home to the McCook House. Located on the public square, this large, brick house is a memorial to the Fighting McCooks, a nickname given to the family because of their military service during the Civil War. During the war, the Daniel McCook family contributed nine soldiers to the Union army, including five generals. The restored house features several period rooms and a large exhibit room with this summer’s featured exhibit, “Ladies Underwear From Before 1920.” 15 Public Square, Carrollton, 800/600-7172. Call for hours. Admission $3, children (6–12) $1.
Drive southwest to The John and Annie Glenn Historic Site and Exploration Center in New Concord, the couple’s hometown. Tours of the Glenn home include a 20-minute, award-winning movie narrated by Hugh Downs and the new Gold Star Flag Exhibit that commemorates people from the area who lost their lives in World War II. There’s also a host of memorabilia, including a green Lucky Strike cigarette package. Lucky Strike changed its packaging to red and white because copper, which was used to make green dye, was needed for the war effort. 72 West Main St., New Concord, 740/826-0220. Wed.–Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Sun. 1–4 p.m. Admission $6, seniors $5, students $3, children 6 and under free.
Travel farther west to the Putnam Underground Railroad Education Center, one of the area’s newest landmarks. A restored 1838 residence in downtown Zanesville, this was once a stop on the Underground Railroad. Today, the museum celebrates local history and tells the story of freedom. 522 Woodlawn Ave., Zanesville, 740/450-3100. www.purecenter.org. Wed.–Fri. 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Admission $3, seniors $2, students $1.
Nearby is the Zanesville Art Center, which features extensive collections of Ohio art pottery, paintings and decorative arts. Paintings by Albert Bierstadt, William Merritt Chase, George Luks and Theodore Robinson are on exhibit, along with 17th-to-19th-century Dutch, English and Italian paintings and prints. 620 Military Rd., Zanesville, 740/452-0741. www.zanesvilleartcenter. org. Tues., Wed., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thur. 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m., Sun. 1–5 p.m. Admission $4, seniors/students $3; free admission on Thursdays.
Continue south into Morgan County, home of the 117-year-old Twin City Opera House. Built on the foundation of the former Brewster Hotel, the opera house was once a center for old-fashioned melodramas, magic shows, musicals, revival meetings, speeches and silent movies. Today the building, which has undergone several renovations and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, shows current movies and hosts monthly Ohio Valley Opry concerts and other entertainment events. 15 W. Main St., McConnelsville, 740/962-3030. www.operahouseinc.com. Tours by appointment.
Finally, the drive to rural Adams County in Southwest Ohio is well worth the time and effort to experience the Edge of Appalachia Preserve. This 14,000-acre nature preserve is located along beautiful Brush Creek, and it is well known for its woodlands, prairies, waterfalls, streams and giant promontories. The popular Lynx Trail is a special treat during the late-summer months when it comes alive with about 250 different species of native grasses and wildflowers. 4274 Waggoner Riffle Rd., near Lynx. 937/544-2188. Dawn to dusk.
Ohio’s Historic West
At one time this was the pioneer part of the state — the wild west of the East. Even today, visitors can see evidence of early America, from small-town squares to historical museums and architecture gems. Begin this tour at the Heritage Center of Clark County. Hard to miss, this impressive 56,000-square-foot, three-story, brick-and-stone building was built in 1890 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several permanent exhibits chronicle the history of the area, such as The National Road Gallery and the Opening of Ohio. 117 South Fountain Ave., Springfield, 937/324-0657. www. heritagecenter.us/museum.cfm. Tues.–Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission free.
Continue to travel in what will become a large loop by heading north to Urbana and the Johnny Appleseed Education Center & Museum. A tribute to the man, the museum contains artifacts including wood from some of the trees he planted, a vintage cider press that was once owned by the founder of Urbana University (Johnny planted orchards for him), and dolls and other memorabilia from Disney’s 1948 Johnny Appleseed cartoon. Bailey Hall, 579 College Way, Urbana University, Urbana, 937/484-1368. www.urbana.edu/appleseed/museum. htm. Tues.–Fri. 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Sat. 12–4 p.m. Admission free.
There’s more to see in Bellefontaine, home of the stately Orr Mansion and Logan County Museum. Recently renovated, the dream home of lumber baron William J. Orr now houses several Logan County artifacts. A one-room schoolhouse, a railroad display, a doctor’s office and a military room are also on site and available for viewing. 521 E. Columbus, Bellefontaine, 937/593-7557. www. co.logan.oh.us/museum. Wed., Fri., Sat. & Sun. 1–4 p.m. Suggested donation $2.
Continue the loop northwestward to the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, the astronaut’s hometown. In addition to learning about Ohio’s contribution to the history of flight and space travel, visitors can now see a new movie about the lunar landing and the Apollo program. 500 S. Apollo Dr., Wapakoneta, 419/738-8811. Tues.–Sat. 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 12–5 p.m. Admission $8, students $4, 5 and under free.
A short drive to the south leads to the town of Sidney and the Monumental Building, constructed in 1875 as a memorial to the Shelby County Civil War veterans. The third floor was formerly an opera house where performers such as Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill graced the stage. The building currently houses the Sidney Municipal Court. Tour it during regular business hours or call ahead to schedule a guided tour. 110 West Court St., Sidney, 937/498-0011. Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–4:15 p.m. Admission free.
Finally, no tour of this part of the state would be complete without a visit to the Garst Museum, best known for its memorabilia on The Treaty of Greene Ville and Darke County’s famous daughter — sharpshooter and entertainer Annie Oakley. 205 N. Broadway, Greenville, 937/548-5250. www.garstmuseum.org. Tues.–Sat. 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 1–5 p.m. Admission $5, seniors $3, students (6–18) $2, 5 and under free.
Southwest Ohio Heritage Area
Extending from Cincinnati to Dayton, and including the many small towns in between, this is an area that tells the story of Ancient Indians, the Wright Brothers, the rise of the railroad and more. The goods news is there’s plenty to see within a relatively small area. Explore the planes. Visit the museums, and re-live history at your own pace.
Begin this tour in Dayton at the Wright Cycle Company Complex, featuring the Wright Cycle Company building, which the Wright Brothers used from 1895 to 1897; the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center (the restored Hoover Block building), site of the Wright Brothers’ printing business from 1895 to 1897; and the Aviation Trail Visitor Center and Museum. 22 S. Williams St., Dayton, 937/225-7705. Daily 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Donations accepted.
Farther south in Lebanon, board the Lebanon Mason Monroe (LM&M) Railroad for a nostalgic train ride. The train leaves from Lebanon Railroad Station, which was built in 1972 as a replica of the original Victorian-style passenger station. The train includes one of the oldest GP7 locomotives still in operation and four, open-window commuter coaches built in 1930. 127 S. Mechanic, Lebanon, 866/934-9464. Weekend theme ride information atwww.lebanonrr. com. Admission $17, children (2–12) $12, children 1 and under free.
Make sure to schedule a side trip east to Fort Ancient State Memorial, North America’s largest prehistoric hilltop enclosure. See 18,000 feet of earthen walls built 2,000 years ago by American Indians who had only primitive tools for construction. The museum features several interactive exhibits that chronicle 15,000 years of American Indian history in the Ohio Valley. 6123 St. Rte. 350, Oregonia, 800/283-8904. Wed.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. & holidays 12–5 p.m. Admission $8, children (6–12) $4, 5 and under free.
Travel southwest to Hamilton for a visit to Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum. Drive or walk through the 265-acre sculpture park, which also includes several hiking trails, lakes and fountains. A 10,000-square-foot Ancient Sculpture Museum is scheduled to open at the end of the summer. 1763 Hamilton-Cleves Rd., Hamilton, 513/887-9514. www.pyramidhill.org. Daily 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Admission $5, children (5–12) $1.50, 4 and under free.
Not far away is theHeritage Village Museum, a living-history museum that depicts life in southwestern Ohio throughout the 19th century. The village includes 12 buildings constructed in southwestern Ohio between 1800 and the 1890 that have been moved to this location. 11450 Lebanon Pike, Sharonville, 513/563-9484. www.heritagevillagecincinnati.org. Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 1–5 p.m. Admission $5, children (5–11) $3, 4 and under free.
One of Cincinnati’s newer history attractions is the American Sign Museum, offering guided tours of a century of sign design and lore. Visitors get a close-up look at more than 150 signs, such as fancy gold-leaf glass signs of the early 1900s, neon signs from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s and finally, plastic signs from the funky ’50s and ’60s. 2515 Essex Place, Cincinnati, 800/925-1110. Tours by appointment. Admission $10, children under 12 free.