Author: RandomOhio

Gift Basket Ideas from Ohio

This is the time of year that the stores are filled with simple stocking stuffers and easy to grab gifts for friends and family.  For loved ones near-by this is fine. For friends or family that have moved out of Ohio, or who live in another state and wonder what’s so great about the great state of Ohio, a little more is needed. Here are a few suggestions (not a complete list add your own in comments below) for perfect way to wrap up Ohio.

We have organized our ideas into regional baskets. Pick and choose or add your own. These are just suggestions. If you have any more suggestions you can add them in the comments below.

Northeast:

Northwest:

Southwest:

  • Cincinnati Style Chili – A little bit thinner than the “other” styles of chili, this classic is known for its ability to turn spaghetti into a regional favorite. Everyone has their favorite place, and all are good.
  • Grippos – if they want barbecue chips they probably crave these.
    Mike-Sells – if they are from a little closer to Dayton these are the choice
  • Ester Price – Chocolates from Dayton
  • Boston Stoker Coffee – Don’t let the name fool you, it’s locally roasted coffee.

Central:

Amish Country:

 

 

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Lights at the Zoos

Yes it is lights time of year. Decorations, lights, and outdoors always seem to go  together well. It is also not the best , or most thought, of time year to go outside to a zoo. Zoos across our great state have learned this and have put the large outdoor space they have to good use. Around the state lions and tigers (and even bears) are being surrounded by millions of lights. While other spaces have lights and decorations, only the zoos have the animals too. So in that spirit we present Lights at the zoo’s:

PNC Festival of Lights
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens
http://cincinnatizoo.org/events/festival-of-lights/

The Cincinnati Zoo will have a 25 foot tree on their swan lake, with floating orbs, all synchronized to music. A gingerbread village with hidden surprises will entertain. The Sisters from Frozen have a meet and greet at the Frozen Wonderland area, and Santa will be available 1 hour before the lights this year.

WildLights
Columbus Zoo

https://www.columbuszoo.org

The Columbus Zoo has gone all out this year. They have a 42 ft tree that puts on a show. Santa is at home near the polar bears. They also have shows through out the zoo, and much more.

Toledo Zoo Lights Before Christmas
Toledo Zoo
https://www.toledozoo.org/lights

The Toledo Zoo has a Winter Village with ice slide and bumper cars on ice. Santa is in a new workshop in the Arctic Encounter section of the park. The Cafe is used as a backdrop for a dazzling lights show.

A Few Good Ohio Book Gift Ideas for fellow Ohio Travelers

Looking for a simple stocking stuffer for a party? Here are a few good books about Ohio that are the type we use to find our places to explore. We think others might like them too. These are just a few ideas to help inspire you, your family, or friends to get out and explore our great state.

For the ones who want to be outside:

  • A Field Guide for whats living out there so that they know what they are finding:
    • Ohio Nature Set: Field Guides to Wildlife, Birds, Trees & Wildflowers of Ohio Wall Chart by James Kavanagh 
    • Ohio Trees & Wildflowers: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Plants (A Pocket Naturalist Guide) Pamphlet by James Kavanagh
    • Ohio Butterflies & Moths: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species (A Pocket Naturalist Guide)by James Kavanagh
    • Ohio Wildlife: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species (A Pocket Naturalist Guide) by James KavanaghWaterford Press, and Raymond Leung
  • Guides to see where to go and find outdoor Ohio:
    • Hiking Ohio: A Guide To The State’s Greatest Hikes (State Hiking Guides Series) by Mary Reed 
    • Follow the Blue Blazes: A Guide to Hiking Ohio’s Buckeye Trail by Robert J. Pond and Steven M. Newman
    • Hiking Ohio by Gary Williams
    • Ohio Rocks: A Guide to Geologic Sites in the Buckeye State by Albert J. Dickas

For the more indoors type Ohio explorer:

  • Guides to see whats outside but not be “outside”:
    • Ohio Off the Beaten Path®: A Guide To Unique Places (Off the Beaten Path Series) by Jackie Sheckler Finch
    • Ohio Road Trips: 52 Trips–more Than 500 Fun and Unusual Getaway Ideas in Ohio! by Neil Zurcher
    • Backroads of Ohio: Your Guide to Ohio’s Most Scenic Backroad Adventures (Pictorial Discovery Guide) by Miriam Carey and Ian Adams
  • Guides for the Urban Explorer:
    • Walking Cincinnati: 32 Tours Exploring Historic Neighborhoods, Stunning Riverfront Quarters, and Hidden Treasures in the Queen City by Danny Korman and Katie Meyer
    • A Historical Guidebook to Old Columbus: Finding the Past in the Present in Ohio’s Capital City by Bob Hunter and Lucy S. Wolfe
    • Lost Toledo by David Yonke
    • Dayton Through Time by Curt Dalton 
    • Secret Cleveland: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure by Deb Thompson ,‎ Tonya Prater 
  • Anything by Niel Zurcher:
    • Neil Zurcher – All his books seem to be about the great Ohio road trip

 

Warren County History Center

Warren County History Center Museum
105 S. Broadway, Lebanon, OH 45036
http://www.wchsmuseum.org/planvisit/warren_county_history_center-2

While not as big as the Cleveland History Center, Carillion Historical Park, or the former Cincinnati Museum of History, the Warren County History Center Museum is large enough to tell the story of a town that once was on track to be larger than Dayton, Ohio.

The museum is more of a collection of historical artifacts than a straight story of the region. This works out well. A straight story would be interesting to some people but not much more than a few founders names. The collection of artifacts works to envelope the visitor in the era. The artifacts are so well arranged that they blend together into a theme more than stand out on a pedestal. The overall feeling is walking through rooms and lives from the early settlers to the roaring 20’s.

The basement houses the older collections. The first room is filled with early inhabitants artifacts and rocks from before any human was in the area. From there one steps forward into the cabin of the Butterworths, early settlers to the area. The cabin is on par with any living history museum in the state. The artifacts so well arranged and taken care of that it felt as if the father of the house was about to come back at any moment for dinner. Outside of the cabin room is a large collection of equipment that the settlers and early farmers would have used to conquer the land and turn Warren county into the agricultural treasure it has become. Surrounding the farm equipment are window displays that house artifacts from the time period. They are themed to every aspect of life from the mundane grooming to the occupational, like journalism, finance, and funeral arts. The lower level also contains the transportation wing with a collection of a few vehicles used to move people around through out the history of warren County. On the way out of the basement is the dark and forbidding Underground railroad exhibit. The dark room only has the sounds of the night time creatures and the light of a distant house. Slowly the lights rise to reveal a display on the work done by Warren county residents to help slaves from the south escape to freedom. Included are maps of stops on the underground railroad and displays telling about how Warren County and Ohio dealt with the issues leading to the Civil War. This room is a must see.

The first floor is the one of the largest rooms and is the “Village Green.” This room is set up with display windows around the outside that resemble a town center. Each display recreates a shop that would be found, with real artifacts of the citizens of the time. This is where the theming and curation of the museum really takes off. Each display is surrounded by a facade and filled with artifacts that make it feel like looking into a shop window. The back room of the first floor is the temporary exhibit space with an ever changing collection of exhibits.

Upstairs is a balcony that surrounds the “Village Green” with two main rooms on each side. The main balcony feels like an overflow for not yet used items, but the 2 side rooms are some of the best of the Museum.The front room contains the 1920’s era “house.” The “house” is just a collection of rooms with items from the era. Included are mannequins with period clothing. While the rooms could feel like just a spattering of items, as with the rest of the museum they are so well themed that one is transported to the era and location of a 1920 warren county big wigs estate. The back room is the Shaker exhibit. The exhibit is one of the best exhibits on shaker life outside of a dedicated museum. Each artifact tells the story of Union Village that was just 4 miles outside of Lebanon. “There is great beauty in harmony” was a saying of the Shakers and the exhibit’s simple but well documented form helps to recreate this simple way of life.

 One of the greatest parts of the museum was hidden through out it like a treasure hunt. The “Gruesome but Truesome” exhibit are small placards in the windows that tell the more macabre details of the items inside. The information is well placed and parents with small children do not have to worry about items scaring them. Teens and the more adventurous will love to read about the larger story behind the museums collection.

Over all the Warren County Historic Center is a medium sized county museum with nothing extreme or major to set it apart from the larger city museums. As we say “A museum must tell a story, not just be a collection of artifacts.” The center shines with what it does with what it has. Every artifact is carefully placed, maybe not to tell a story, but to transport the visitor back in time to a different era.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post with the Glendower Historic Mansion.

Glow Jack-o-lanterns

The Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow

October 30 & 31st, 2017
Location: Stoddard Avenue Dayton (Behind the Art Museum)

Off for 2016, The Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow is back this year. The Glow is one the best hidden traditions in Ohio. Aptly  hidden on a hill behind the Dayton Art, in the Griffton hill neighborhood event lights up the night. In 2015 over 850 pumpkins were displayed. That is over 850 different Jack-o-lanterns of ever imaginable variety.

The Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow was started over 20 years ago by Judy Chaffin. She decided that the glow of some Jack-o-Lanterns would help to brighten the dark of here neighborhood. Behind the local Greek Church was a small hill that was perfect. Judy Chaffin, her brother, and sister in law made the few pumpkins displayed in 1994, The after a few year friends and neighbors helped out. Eventually it became an event. In the beginning they had to find the pumpkins at local farms and drive them back on their own. Not to hard for 50 or 60 pumpkins but an almost undo able feat for over 400. Luckilly they found a farmer who worked out a good deal and would deliver, a needed service for over 800 pumpkins.

The Pumpkin Glow is a simple concept. Take a few pumpkins, carve, light, and display. Common ideas start to run out after a few hundred pumpkins and the wackiness that makes The Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow a treat pop up. Everything from movie characters, local attractions, famous landmarks, words, to marriage proposals   have appeared on the gourds. If it can be carved into a Jack-o-Lantern it probably has at the Pumpkin Glow.

Last year the hill was dark. But as the glow idea has caught on around the area and nation the Stoddard Avenue tradition was needed even more. This year the excitement of the lighted hill has grow. The Glow is October 30 & 31st, 2017 and is expected to be one of the biggest. Zombie Dogz and El Meson will be among the food trucks in the area. Over 2000 people are expected to attend the event so expect crowds.

CRYPTOZOHIO: Horror movies from Ohio

Cryptozohio - Stories from the Depths

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.

Three, four, Better lock your door

Five, six, grab a crucifix.

Seven, eight, Gonna stay up late.

Nine, ten, Never sleep again….

With these lines we know that something Bad is coming. That is the song used in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise. The films are about a man ho comes back to haunt the dreams of the children of Springwood, Ohio. He is not the first and won’t be the last monster to live in this state. A lot of horror movies use Ohio as setting. Is it that most of the Midwest looks like Ohio and many people could see it happening in their own town, no matter where it is filmed? Is it because during most of the 19th century Ohio was the population center of America and had a lot of residents, many who never left? Almost every major structure in Ohio has a ghost story or two. Some towns like Athens and Waynesville even claim to be some of the most haunted places in the country.  Sometimes they don’t set the film in Ohio but simply film here. Like setting it here, Ohio can stand in for most of America. With our hilly southeast, our suburb filled southwest, our city filled industrial northeast, and all the farm land in between, Ohio is almost anywhere America. With a state that can stand in for almost anywhere and ghosts everywhere Ohio is the perfect place for a horror film.
Here is our non-complete list of Horror films set in / filmed in Ohio:

Babysitter Massacare
Deadly Blessings
Finale
The Faculty
Heathers
Howard the Duck
The Manson Family
Meet the Applegates
My Friend Dahmer
Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise
Pi Day Die Day
Salvage
Scream 2
Sella Turcia
The Sleeper
Super 8
Take Shelter
ThanksKilling
Trick ‘r Treat
The Watch
Wednesday Children

CRYPTOZOHIO: State Parks

Cryptozohio - Stories from the Depths

Ohio citizens and visitors to our state have gone to the local parks for almost 150 years. They enjoyed the waters and the trails. They have hiked through the forest, or strolled through the meadows. Some loved them so much they remained long after they should have. These are a few tales of haunts from around the state. Some are from the parks themselves, most are from the history the parks are trying to preserve. (links to locations in orange titles)

Punderson Manor
The land was originally owned by Lemeul Punderson. After he and his wife’s deaths it changed hands, eventually being owned by Karl Long. On the site he decided to build a 29 room mansion for his wife. This was in 1929. The great depression soon followed and wiped out his fortune. He died before the mansion was finished. In 1956 the state took over the site and has run it as a lodge and conference center since.

In 1976 a band of gypsies told what is considered the first ghost story about the place. They reported seeing a dark seaweed covered shape emerge from the lake. This happened only a year after a teenage girl drown in the lake. Guest and Workers have been telling strange tells of the location ever since. Footsteps echo and pounding on doors can be heard when no one is around. Lights flicker and chills can be felt through out the old section. The grand spiral staircase is said to be haunted by a civil war veteran. The tower was the location of a many a story of a man who is said to be looking for a lost rocking chair. The Windsor suite is probably the most haunted section of the grounds with multiple figures inhabiting the room.

Beaver Creek State Park
Beaver Creek park is one of the parks that was preserved for it’s history along with it’s natural beauty. At the site is the remains of the old Hambleton mill. It’s grain was shipped via the canals that criss crossed Ohio. At the mill an old lady is said to keep vigil. Her name is Ester Hale. She is said to be seen on many night. Also along the canals is “Gretchen’s Lock.” Named after the daughter of the man who built the lock. His daughter caught malaria, came down with a fever and chills and rambled on about returning to their home land of Holland. Eventually she passed away and the family decided to return to Holland after the lock was built. They stored Gretchen’s coffin in the lock until they left. On the way back across the ocean a violent storm took their lives and they along with the coffin were lost at sea. It is said that the ghost of Gretchen returned to the last place she was at rest, inside the lock. Gretchen’s is not the only haunted lock in the area. A former keeper who died from a lightning strike while on duty is said to haunt “Jake’s Lock.” At the right time one can see him with his lantern bobbing a long on duty.

John Bryan State Park / Glen Helen / Clifton George
Located by village of Yellow Springs the gorge makes up one of the best preserved, and prettiest, areas of central western Ohio. The area traces its roots back to the original Adena Mound Builders and later the Shawnee. Nearby was Old Chillicothe one of the important sites of the Shawnee, with famed leader Tecumseh visiting often. In the late 19th century, when residents feared that the growing amusement park industry would take over the land, they decided to preserve it. Now it is 3 interconnected sites that showcase the beauty of the glacial carved region.

With such long history the sites are bound to have some never leaving visitors. In John Bryan an old hermit visits the area around the west gate. Willie the hermit drown when he and his horse tried to cross the overflowing river at the bottom of the gorge. He is still heard whistling his happy tune. In Glen Helen it is said that the girl who the preserve is named after can be seen playing after hours. She loved the area so much that her father donated the land to the local college to keep it as she remembered it. Some say she loved it so much she may never leave. Clifton George and the connected John Bryan have large cliffs that lead to the Little Miami river below. From the top one can see the danger of a fall. Many a person have gone out for a walk without ever coming back. Some on purpose, some by accident, and some for unknown reasons. It is said that the woods are best visited in groups at night.

Lake Hope State Park  Moonville tunnel ror
Located in the south east, considered one of the most haunted parts of the state, and the nation, is this amazing park. While not as popular as the nearby Hocking Hills and Old Mans Cave, this park has one of the most famous eerie places in any state park, Moonville Tunnel.

The story goes that during the heyday of the old mining town of Moonville supplies were delivered daily by train. One night a brakeman fell from the train and was crushed under the wheels. He was taken to a nearby doctor but his injuries were too severe. It is said that if one looks out at night they can see the red signal lamp swinging in the wind to warn of the on coming train. Or is it to warn the many other people who have been killed by trains in the area? A man was killed coming home from buying groceries when he fell from the bridge he was attempting to cross. Another man died attempting to jump from the train early. A man, with the help of liquor, decided to sleep on the track. A search of the McArthur Democrat newspaper, the newspaper of the area at the time the train and town were bustling, will bring up many more stories.

The tunnel is located off the Moonville rail trail. There is a high water trail down the road. This path will lead around the creek that runs high most of the warmer months. The tunnel itself is a run down popular area. The walls are lined with graffiti and trash. Even in the light of day the area is creepy and scary. The idea that the ghost of a lost railroad worker, or a local citizen, becomes almost a guarantee once one has visited the area. Well worth the hike.

Hocking Hills
Hocking Hills is one of the most visited parks in Ohio. Every weekend when the weather is good the parking lot is full. But how many people know of the strange happenings in the area. The early Adena Indians, who built the Mounds in Ohio to bury their dead, some in the park. The inhabitants forever protecting that which they were buried with. The area was also inhabited by local American Indian tribes, including the Wyandot, Delaware and Shawnee, following the Adena. It is said that on a still night one can still see them roaming the area. One of the most noted areas for this is Conkle’s Hollow. This is where, as legend goes, many an American Indian was hung for robbing the settlers passing through.

The most famous and most visited area of the park is Old Mans Cave, with a good portion of visitors not even know that there is more to the park than this one gorge. The Hocking Hills section of the Buckeye trail, and North country national trail, winds through the gorge and passes by many a haunted spot. Old man’s cave was named after Richard Roe, a hermit who lived in the cave with his hunting dogs. He was not the first settler at the site. Nathaniel and Pat Rayon, two brothers, built a cabin on top of the ridge and lived out their days there. All 3 are buried in the cave area of the park. Late at night campers have said to have heard Roe’s dogs hunting, with some saying you can even see him walking the area looking for them. Further down at Rose Lake a woman searching for her son fell of a cliff and died. Hikers and fisherman say they can still hear her calling out to her lost boy. Along the trail around Ash cave a shy lady from the 1920’s has been know to creep around following groups of hikers.

By the nearby Logan Lake State Park is Scotts Creek Death Hole. Named for the underground cavern that draws water, and anyone caught in in its current, in from above. In 1887 a newlywed couple was pulled under while trying to cross. The horses can still be heard and the young women seen trying to find her husband.

The whole southern region is well forested and a good place for anything to hide. Almost any boy scout, hiker, or camper that has spent a night will have a story about some strange noise they have heard. Some claim to know what the noise came from. they say it was the most famous cryptid, the ape man known as Bigfoot. But that is for another post.

 

CRYPTOZOHIO: Haunted Tours of Ohio

Cryptozohio - Stories from the Depths

Every city or major building seems to have some ghost these days. Stories the owners and residents seem to tell and retell. Stories that have become so famous that people want to visit the locations they happened in. This can be a problem during the autumn months when the weather turns colder. People get out and expect to see the scary locations, even if the location doesn’t want them too. Some places shy away from the stories to try and discourage this. Other full heartedly embrace the stories and actually use them to their benefit.  These are the locations that offer haunted tours.

Finding the right tour can be tricky. When going on a tour do not expect to find a ghost who will pose for a picture. These are not haunted houses designed to scare you. Expect a more refined historical walking tour. This is what makes the haunted / ghost tours so fun. Even if the ghost that the tour talks about is not real, the history of why people still talk about it is. When looking for a tour look for ones that mention history or stories not just experience. The best tours, and hardest to get a ticket to, are offered by the local organization. The prices seem to be lower and all the proceeds go to help the local group. Some offer a cool lantern or candlelight tour filled with stories. These are the best for setting the mood of the story telling. If you just want a cool walk through hidden areas of local museums or villages haunted tours are a great option for this too. Many location use the fall haunting season as an fundraising event and will go all out. Companies that offer the tours have better date options and more refined tours, but seem to lack the local flare that comes with a non-profit organization. We recommend starting early and trying to get a local tour. They seem to be of lesser known places and haunts.

Many places hold these tours and we can not hope to list them all. If you want to find one in your area google haunted tour and your town or even your favorite location. You never know what you might find.

By the time you read this (as of 2017) most of the tours will be filled, free ones can fill up in hours, and others in days. Some do not offer tickets till October or a few weeks before hand. Take a chance and see if they are openings, but always remember them for next year.

Northern Ohio
http://www.northernohiotourism.com/ghostly_things.htm – A good list of places by the lake

Central
http://columbuslandmarks.org/event-calendar/ghost-tours – a good list for Columbus
http://oldetownghosttours.com – Dublin
http://www.ohiostatehouse.org/news/2017-haunted-statehouse-tour-tickets-now-on-sale – The Statehouse

Southwest
https://www.friendshomemuseum.org/copy-of-purchase-ghost-tours-class – Waynesville
https://www.hauntedcincinnatitours.com – Cincinatti
http://www.woodlandcemetery.org/tours-and-events – Dayton’s most haunted cemetery 

Southeast
http://athenshistory.org/asylum-walking-tour/ – Athens, one of the most haunted cities in America?
http://www.ohio.org/events/haunted-hocking-weekend – Hocking Hills

Why is the NFL hall of fame in Canton?

The National Football League is the major professional Football organization in America. It honors its players with induction into its Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. With no team and the 130th in the nation for population size, the question is asked “Why is the NFL hall of fame in Canton?”

The first players to be payed to play football were  William Heffelfinger and Ben “Sport” Donnelly. They were payed by the Allegheny Athletic Association. By the 1920’s great players were payed ever increasing amounts. Some were even “poached” from other teams during the season with a higher salary offer. This led to confusion, bidding wars, and rising costs. Something was needed to be done.

On August 20, 1920,  in Canton, Ohio, representatives of the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, and Dayton Triangles, all Ohio based teams, formed the American Professional Football Conference. Later it would change its name to the American Professional Football Association, after adding more teams from across the nation. These teams worked out an agreement on player “poaching” and helped to stabilize costs and talent across the league. On October 3rd the Dayton Triangles defeated Columbus Panhandles in what is considered the first NFL game. On June 24, 1922, in a meeting held in Akron, Ohio, the APFA, became the National Football League.  For the next two years the Canton Bulldogs would win the league championship making them the first team in the NFL to do so.

Site of first NFL game, now a baseball diamond

Fast forward 40 years: The NFL had a long history and no Hall of Fame or other museum dedicated to it. Canton took this too heart. The local newspaper, the Canton Repository, pushed for it. They believed the only logical site was in Canton. It was the site of the original meeting. It had a historic powerhouse team. It was in Ohio the state where the first NFL game was played. The city was determined to get the Hall and on January 25, 1961 William E. Umstattd made a formal bid. A few months later the League agreed with what the city and awarded them the Hall. On September 7, 1963 the Hall opened and has been honoring players ever since.