History

Some of Ohio’s Unique Museums

The great thing about museums is they can be expansive or super small. They can be hyper local or focused on the world. Museums range form huge collections of various artifacts to someones collection of one focus. Museums involve the dedicated and the casual viewers. Museums can attract locals, casual tourists, or serious dedicated fans. Ohio has great vast institutions that attract people from all over the world. Ohio also has museums that are unique and should be highlighted. Some of these museums might not be known by all, but are really great attractions.

Here is our list of some of them:

Bicycle Museum of America

Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum

Ohio River Museum

Our review (click here)

The Museum of Postal History

National Museum of the Great Lakes

Our review (click here)

Ohio Craft Museum

Feline Historical Museum

Our review (click here)

Merry-Go-Round Museum

American Toy Marble Museum

Airstream Factory Tour (not a really a museum)

Our review (click here)

The Cardboard Boat Museum

Blair Museum of Lithophanes

David Warther Carvings 

Our review (click here)

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

The American Sign Museum

Our review (click here)

 

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Mound Cold War Discovery Center

1075 Mound Rd,
Miamisburg, OH 45342

https://www.daytonhistory.org/visit/dayton-history-sites/mound-cold-war-discovery-center/

Dayton Ohio and the surrounding area has a long history with inventions, technology, and war. The National Museum of the United States Air Force tells the story of the war. Dayton History at Carillon park tells the story of the technology. Now Dayton History has helped to preserve the history of a major component of technology in war. The Mound Cold war Center tells the story of the part Dayton played in creating some of the most destructive weapons ever used.

On August 6, 1945 the United States, while at war with Japan, dropped the most destructive weapon ever used. The Atomic Bomb was again used on August 9th. These two bombs ended the war and changed the world forever. The bombs were so powerful that they were developed under the most secret project of the early 20th century. The Manhattan Project, while most known for being at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, had sites across the country. One such site was in Dayton, Ohio.

The Dayton Project was created to make the neutron initiator that would start the reaction process in the bomb. Many sites through out Dayton were used. The Dayton Project was the only portion of the larger Manhattan Project to be based in an urban area. At the end of the war the US Government decided to continue stockpiling weapons in case of future tensions. The weapons would need initiators, or triggers, and decided to keep making them in Dayton. Because this work was going to be done on a larger scale a suitable location outside of town was needed. A location was found near the ancient Adena culture’s burial mound in Miamisburg Ohio. The Atomic Energy Commission built its first site after the war and called it Mound Laboratories.

As tensions between the United States and the USSR grew into the Cold War, Mound Laboratories was in full swing. Later, as the stock pile grew large enough and the space race picked up the labs used the nuclear technology to invent a new type of battery. These batteries would be able to power a device for over 40 years. They were perfect for long duration space flight were battery replacement was not an option. Some of them have even left our solar system aboard the voyager spacecraft. The batteries are said to last until 2025.

Eventually the Mound Laboratories ended operations and the site was cleaned up. The buildings have either been taken down or turned into office space. A few of the building remained empty and workers from the labs decided to try and tell its story and preserve its history. The museum they created, while small, did a good job of telling the untold story. The times were not great and the presentation was a little haphazard. Eventually they joined forces with Dayton History to completely redesign the small museum. The New creation is the Mound Cold War Museum.

The Museum is a one large room with displays along the walls that tell the story of the mound. Using videos, pictures and artifacts the museum unfolds the work from the early days of the Dayton Project to the clean up and closure. Many of the displays are just text and pictures, or artifacts and text. Some however are larger interactive items, such as a working Geiger counter and a glove box. Upstairs is the archives with information on almost every worker at the mounds, and photos of the workers experience.

Overall the story gets across with out bogging down too much in the details. With the price of admission being free, it is well worth the price. Adding in a trip to the Miamisburg Mound across the street, and a stop downtown for lunch, one can easily fill a morning.

Miamisburg Bicentennial

Miamisburg Bicentennial Featured Week of Celebration  (JUNE 16-23)
Other events through out year

miamisburg200.com

One and Only, Star City, Miamisburg, the city south of Dayton along the Great Miami River has gone by many names. This year it celebrates its 200 birthday. For the past few years they have gone to work to make sure the it is ready. Ready not just for a one day ceremony, but a week long event to remember for the next 200 years.

The area was settled before 1818, long before. Some of the earliest inhabitants of the region were the Adena Culture. These Mound builders created great works of earth to honor their dead. In the state of Ohio they built many mounds, the largest being the one in Miamisburg. The Miamisburg Mound is 65 feet tall and sits on a 100 foot tall hill. This allows the it to be seen for miles. The impact from this hilltop mound is still felt to this day.

About 1700 years later the first American settlers, Zachariah Hole and family, created Hole’s Station, a rest area for travelers from Dayton to Cincinnati. Over the years many heading west had stopped and settled along the banks of the Miami. It was not until February 20, 1818 that four men from out of state decided to sell 90 small plots in the newly organized town. As with the river and many other things in the area the village was named after the local Miami Tribe that had once inhabited the region.

Over the years the fact that Miamisburg was a stop along the route between the Ohio river port of Cincinnati and the expanding city of Dayton allowed it to grow. In 1832 the area officially gained village status. At one point (pictured above) The Miami Erie canal, train lines, interurban lines, major roads, and the Miami River all flowed through town. As transportation grew faster, and less stops were needed, the growth of the village slowed a little. It took almost another 100 years for it to become a city.

Later, as the world entered war for the second time, secret projects were conducted in the city. The Manhattan project was working to build a weapon to end the war. Dayton was a major producer of the triggers for these atomic weapons. After the war the Atomic Energy Commission built Mound Laboratories to continue this work.  The labs work and the impact it has had on the region is now on display at Mound Cold War Discovery Center (review coming soon). This lab, along with the newly constructed highway brought many new people to the city and expansion happened. While the bulk of the businesses moved east to the Dayton Mall area, and people stopped coming downtown after the Mound closed, some stayed in the Downtown area of the city. Over the past few years The Plaza theater, Grandpa Joe’s candy shop, T.J. Chumps, and many other stores and restaurants have revitalized the Downtown area and brought back a touch of the history of the city.

This 200 year journey is what the Miamisburg Historical Society is celebrating with its week long party. The festivals with begin with a parade and have a parade on the last day too. in between each day will be themed and offer a different look into Miamisburg. Everyday will have some form of entertainment on the main stage of Riverfront Park, with more activities around it. Some days have different activities at other locations through out the city. By the end of the event every aspect of life in the Star City will have been explored. The final night will end with a free concert from the Dayton Philharmonic and fireworks.

Downtown Miamisburg is a great place to visit any time of year. From what the city has been planning and the craziness going around town expect June 16th -23rd to be a rocking good time in the Star City.

Krohn Conservatory

1501 Eden Park Drive
http://www.cincinnatiparks.com/krohn/

Down by the river in Cincinnati is a Eden Park. The land is beautiful and the hills rolling.  The park it self is quite large. So large it house two of Cincinnati’s hidden gems. The first is The Cincinnati Art Museum. The second is not quite as large or well known but is just as amazing. Krohn Conservatory.

In the 1880’s the first greenhouse at Eden park were used for growing plants for the park. at the turn of the 20th century a greenhouse was built for public displays. The following year the first plant show was started. Shortly after the park decided to keep the plants in the greenhouses in rotation to keep visitors coming back. About 30 years later the crowds had grown and the park needed a new green house. The Eden Park Greenhouse opened its doors in 1933. four years later it was renamed The Khron Conservatory in honor of Irwin M. Krohn.

A conservatory is a room with a glass roof and walls, attached to a house at one side and used as a greenhouse or a sun parlor. Krohn is more than just a glass room attached to a building. The conservatory is broken up into 4 main rooms with smaller rooms off to the sides. The rooms each encompass an environment for the plants inside. The desert room houses the Cacti and succulent collection.  The tropical room showcase plants from the warmer climates, including ferns and begonias. The palm house is the tallest with palm trees towering above.  This room also includes a waterfall the flows into a river full of fish, turtles, and frogs. Behind the waterfall is a hidden cave. Each of these rooms include edible plants too. The conservatory is a great place to see where some common, but exotic, food comes from including bananas, vanilla, and cacao.  Off too the sides of these rooms are the bonsai collection. With plants owned by the park and plants on loan from the Bonsai Society of Greater Cincinnati . The other room is a large selection from the conservatories collection of orchids.

The final room of the Krohn is the smallest but grandest. The seasonal flower show room is the where 6 different shows are put on through out the year. During the spring the Krohn Conservatory holds its most famous event, a butterfly show. The room comes alive with the flutter of wings. While the flowers may repeat from time to time, each of the six shows are themed differently. The room becomes whatever the theme is. If the idea is flowers of the bayou, the room is a slice of New Orleans. Visitors are transported not just by the flowers on display but by the music, the decorations, and even the structures and walkways. The theming is not only limited to the seasonal show room. Every time the shows theme changes the Krohn is almost born anew with little hidden gems popping up in the other rooms as well. The changing shows are what make every visit a treat to enjoy with new things to find and sites to see.

TIP: The Cincinnati Art museum is open late on Thursdays and can be fit into a day trip to Eden Park and the Krohn Conservatory.

 

Opening Day in the MLB

For the past 142 (well 141 but who’s counting) one team has not heard the words home opening game. They have not had to. Every season they have opened at home and the home opener was just called Opening Day of Major League Baseball. It might be because they were the first Professional Team. It might be because of their location. It might be because they almost sell out every time. It might be because they are the Cincinnati Reds.

Why Cincinnati?

The Reds started out as the first openly professional team in 1866, just one year after the Civil War. Baseball was in it infancy at the time and over the next 16 years many changes came. In 1876 the team started playing in the newly formed National league. Over the next few years the team moved to a new league, but by 1890 the team had rejoined the National League for good and baseball was on its way to becoming a great american pastime.

Cincinnati was the southern most city in the league. With harsh winters and less experienced grounds keepers, other teams were happy to visit the “warm” city. Before tv, radio, or movies baseball and other live events were some of the only form of entertainment around. This meant that the Reds opening game was almost always a sellout. With a cut of the sellout profits and a better climate visiting teams decided to keep playing in the Queen city on the first day of the season. Be it tradition or an homage to the fact they were the first pro team, the Reds have opened the season at home on the first day of play ever since.

The fanfare and the Parade

At the turn of the 19th century Baseball, like most early years of a sport, had not formed the single major league they are now. The National League was competing with the American Association. To stand out the teams promoted Opening day more and more. If  fan was a fan of your team, the thought went, they would stay all season. To promote the game Cincinnati drove both the Reds, the visiting team, and a marching band down the streets to the field hyping the upcoming game along the way. This lasted until 1902 when the team stopped their parade. The fans decided to continue on their own.

For the next 2 decades local groups, known as rooters, would meet and march towards the game, promoting both the game and themselves along the way. in 1920 Findlay Market joined in on the fun, becoming one of the loudest and largest of them all. After a while the rooter groups stopped marching towards the game. The tradition faded. The only one left marching was the Findlay Market group.  Being the largest of them all changed the event from a tailgate fan event to a full fledge parade, albeit a small one.

Eventually the Ball park they were marching too moved downtown and the parade route took on a new direction and scope. What had once been a group of shop owners heading toward the park nearby became the citywide holiday event that many in Major League Baseball have come to recognize as the start of the season nationwide.

Alas due to a change in the schedule of MLB, and the date of Easter, the 2018 parade will not happen until the 4th game. 

Wright-B Flyer

10550 N Springboro Pike,
Miamisburg, OH 45342
http://www.wright-b-flyer.org
Hours Vary Check website for details.

The Wright B Flyer Museum (or Hangar) is located in a small airport south of Dayton. While the Museum is small, just one hangar and one plane, it is more than it seems.

The Wright B Flyer was the first plane commercially built. They were not the modern planes were are use to today. At the time though the 2 seater was a step up from the model A. Within a few years the industry moved on from the simplistic design of the Wrights. More streamlined, faster, and more powerful planes took over and the wrights could not catch up. Within that few years however the plane made many firsts, such as the first aerial bomb drop, the first to deliver freight, and the first military aircraft. One of the original Model B’s is even on display at The National Museum of the United States Air Force.

The Wright B Flyer Museum is not really a museum so much and more a Hangar. The large space has a few displays on the walls about the history of the aircraft, both the original and the current one. The interior is filled with an old truck used in parades with the plane, and the plane itself. Visitors can get up close and examine the vehicle. The openness of the cockpit shows how scare it must have been for aviators of the time. Up close visitors can also see how simple a vehicle it was compared to modern planes.

The Wright B Flyer museum’s plane is not original. It is a look alike made from modern material. The look is authentic even if the material is not. The modern plane is made from new materials because it needs to be flight worthy. The museum uses the plane for special events and flights for its members. The plane is not just another one of the many many planes on display in Dayton, but a living part of the community. During Dayton Heritage day at Carillon History Park, or many other historical events, the plane has been known to make a flyover. In flight the plane is just as impressive as it is on the ground.

The Wright B Flyer Hangar is small. The average visitor only needs 30 minutes to see everything. The museum is free and fits great into a day with the Dayton Aviation National Historical Park. With a whole weekend one can visit many of the other sites in the Dayton Aviation National Heritage Area, and even earn a free teddy bear.

Glendower Mansion

Glendower Mansion
105 Cincinnati Avenue,
Lebanon, Ohio 45036
www.wchsmuseum.org/planvisit/glendower_historic_mansion-1

Just down the street and around the corner from the Warren County History Center  is this old pre Civil War mansion.
The mansion is part of the museum during the summer and December. It is a beautiful old building over looking Lebanon, yet still hidden away enough to be hard to fully see.

The Mansion is small and has only 8 rooms. The building is bigger than its structure. The history of the Mansion connects life during the 19th century and the 20th and 21st centuries efforts to preserve it. The tour is very informative and expands the eight rooms to the include the history of the land and Lebanon. The guides are very informative and willing to answer any questions. Take at least and hour to tour the Mansion and grounds. The view from the top of the hill is one of the best in the area. The Mansion and History Center can easily be done in one day with time for lunch at one of Lebanon’s many eateries.

Through out the year the Glendower puts on a few festivals and around the end of the season holds a civil war encampment. They even try to time it to fall during the Smithsonian’s Free Museum Day so that every one can enjoy it. In December they decorate the Mansion for the season. Both are very popular events.

 

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.

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.