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What makes Here… Here

Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site

Photo By Chris Light at English Wikipedia

219 N Paul Laurence Dunbar St,
Dayton, OH 45402

https://www.nps.gov/daav/planyourvisit/paul-laurence-dunbar-house-historic-site.htm

Some places in Ohio are run by local history groups. Some places in Ohio are important enough for the Ohio History Connection to get involved. A select number of places in Ohio have even gotten the National Parks service to recognize them. One place in Ohio is run by the local, state, and national historical systems, The Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site.

Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African American poet at the turn of the 20th century. He wrote in both dialect and standard English. Dunbar became famous as a poet after self publishing Oak and Ivy, his first book, in 1892. After the popularity of the book he began to tour around the state, then then the nation, and finally England.  At the height of his career in 1902 Dunbar bought a house in Dayton for his mother. After he started to suffer medical issues he moved in to the house with his mother. On February 9, 1906 in the house he had bought for his mother Paul Laurence Dunbar died of tuberculosis.

The House was bought by the state in 1936 and turned into the first state memorial to an African American. It was later in the century that people started to notice his works effect on the larger literary world. Maya Angelou even named her first book after a line in Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy.” In 1962 the house became a National Historic Landmark. 30 years later it was incorporated in to larger Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park when the park was created.

The Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site is a small location with just the house and accompanying visitor center. The center contains a short film on the life of Dunbar, a few of his artifacts, and information about the history of the house. The House itself is a small 2 story building common of the area. Together the entire site can be visited in 1.5 hours.

While that may seem to small for a journey to the area, the House is only .5 miles from the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park’s Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center. The center contains more information on the life of the printers of Dunbar’s first Newspaper, Orville and Wilbur Wright. One could easily spend an entire morning visiting both the Paul Laurence Dunbar House and Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, grab lunch at one of the areas great restaurants, and spend the heat of the afternoon walking around Woodland Cemetery where both the Wright Brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar are buried. With the Carillon Historical Park, National Museum of United States Air Force, and the rest of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park one could make a long weekend in Dayton. Even being rewarded if they go to enough places.

Mel-o-dee diner sign

Mel-O-Dee

2350 S Dayton-Lakeview Rd, Carlisle
New Carlisle, OH 45344
http://www.melodeerestaurant.com

Located just north of Fairborn and Huber Heights, the Mel-o-Dee is along the small strip that is  the business district of New Carlisle. The restaurant is very hard to miss with the famous sign lighting up the way. While many other food options are available in the major cities nearby, and a few in town, Mel-O-Dee is worth the short drive.

The restaurant was opened in 1964, and run ever since, by the Childers family. They are currently on the 3/4th generation. The place feels like it has been updated by kept the same ever since. If you want a fancy modern chain restaurant, this is not the place. The decor however does not feel inauthentic and cheesy. Everything works nicely to give a small town ascetic.  The atmosphere is of a local restaurant where people will come before a football game, or after church, and discuss the town’s mayor, with the mayor probably at the next booth.

When we went the food was amazing. The menu consists of Breakfast, sandwiches, and Dinner. The menu is nothing too fancy but has enough options to satisfy all but the pickiest eater. The selection is a reminiscent of a menu found in the 70’s and 80’s before current food trends started to take over. When we went the special was Baked Swiss Steak. It was a great traditional meal that many a place has forgotten.  The bread, as with most items, is simple and fresh made daily in house. The daily specials change from time to time and the online menu does not do justice to the selection at hand in store.

Mel-O-Dee is famous for its broasted fair of chicken, pork, or fish. Broasting is an style of cooking that is a mix of pressure cooking and frying. It is famous is central and southern Ohio. The food comes out crisp, not extra crispy, on the outside and juicy on the inside. The overall effect is similar to frying, but different enough to be memorable.  Mel-O-Dee takes pride in their broasting and has a whole section of the menu dedicated to it. If one has never had broasted foods before, Mel-O-Dee is a great place to begin. They even have carryout buckets up to 1000 pieces.

The prices of food may have gone up since the 90’s, but are still are the cheaper side of most sit down restaurants. The decor and feel of the place has not changed much since then. So for a good old nostalgic feel of small town Ohio go to Mel-O-Dee. As they say “Our Food will put a Mel-O-Dee in your Heart.”

Airstream Factory Tour

419 West Pike Street
Jackson Center, OH 45334-0629
https://www.airstream.com/company/tours/

The history of Recreational Vehicles took a turn when Wally Byam acquired the Bowlus Company, took the door moved it to the side and created the Airstream Clipper. For about the next 16 years, except for a period during the war years, Airstreams were only manufactured in California.  In July 1952 a factory was opened in Jackson Center, Ohio. In 1979 the California plant was closed, leaving Jackson Center as the only place in the world where the unique trailer is produced.

The Factory is located in Jackson Center and is just down the highway from Armstrong Air and Space Museum. The tours start at 2pm and leave enough time in the morning to go the museum and have lunch at Al’s Woody’s Diner. The Airstream Factory also is a fitting location with the museum because NASA used Airstreams as Mobile Quarantine Facility for the returning Apollo 11 crew.

The Factory tour starts at the Service center. The center is where Airstream gifts and parts can be bought before the tour. This is where the guide will have each person a pen (a great souvenir ) to sign a wavier and give out ear and eye protection. The tour is on the actual factory floor and protection is needed.

The tour starts with a brief history of the company before heading outside. On the way to the main factory the guide will show some of the campers parked outside. This is not a museum tour or a Dealers lot. Wally Byam’s Gold trailer, “Stella’s Gold Airstream,”  is there but the rest are finished trailers about to be sent out and not really for display.

Inside the factory the noise can be loud at places. The earplugs protect visitors ears but also block out the guides voice. To get around this one member of the group is given a portable speaker. The guide can be heard from the front and back at most times, even over the noise of the factory. Sometimes the noise and spread of the group will make it hard to hear.

The tour goes through the process of constructing an Airstream from the ground up. Well more from sides to the floor to the internals. While it might not seem like much at first. Eventually the trailer comes together to the memorable shape. After the trailer is weather tested it is ready for interior. The interiors and wiring are added and the final product is ready to ship.

Overall the tour is a little under 2 hours depending on the size of the group. The distance is walked can be close to a mile. The process of building one of the most memorable trailers on the market is fun to see and the price (FREE) can’t be beat.

When we went the second factory building was being retooled for the next model years line of bus style touring coaches. Expect an update when we get a chance to return. 

Al’s Woody’s Diner

9 N Wood St
Wapakoneta, Ohio, OH 45895

On a trip to the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta we decided to try something new for lunch. We really wanted something local and good. We decided to try out Al’ Woody’s Diner. What we noticed first is that is not a huge place and that it seemed everyone knew everyone. The menu ranges from burgers, pizza, sandwiches, to dinners. The menu also has lots of local advertisements in it, so one more reason it seems this place is connect to the community.

When we went it was lunch time and we took the last seats at the bar. If we would have waited we could have gotten a table. The place seemed to have a lot of locals and just the right amount of seating for everyone. The over all look was local Wapakoneta with a major kick to Ohio State University and the buckeye state. “Woody” in the name refers to former coach Woody Hayes.  The inside was not over done and a sports bar, but retained it’s local diner/restaurant feel.

At lunch they have a buffet. This is mostly Pizza and Fried Chicken. We had Burgers and Chicken sandwiches. The food was standard and nothing to fancy on paper. But was exactly what one would want from this type of diner. It was well prepared and came out quickly enough to be able to get back to work or the museum. We started with the Giant basket of onion straws and lost track of time. They were more than enough to share with 2 people or a group. The taste was of onions but not overpowering. The breading was well balanced with the insides to make for a great french fry substitute.

The food was good. It was well prepared and had a touch of homemade to it. Nothing felt “bagged” or factory prepared. The staff was friendly and service great. The selection was good and the price just right. The next time you visit Armstrong Air and Space save some time to go down the street to Al’s Woody’s Diner.

Memorial Day Road Trips

On the final Monday in May America takes the time to honor those who died in service to its armed forces. This tradition started in 1868 when former Civil War soldiers decided to decorate the graves of fallen veterans. While the custom is a long held tradition around the world, this time was different. So many soldiers had died in the recent Civil War, and so many families effected, that having a single day to do this helped to bring larger importance to the act. It wasn’t until 1971 with the enactment of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that the day created a yearly 3 day weekend.

To honor the veterans who gave it all here are some road trip ideas that have a military background. Some can be completed in one day some might take two. A great site to learn more about Ohio historical places and come up with you own trips is http://touringohio.com

Northwest Ohio and the War of 1812:

Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Fort Miamis National Historic Site  – Fallen Timbers was the site of a major battle between American Indians and the newly formed United States of America. At the treaty of Paris in 1783 Britain gave the USA all of the land east of the Mississippi River. This include the Ohio Country. The American Indian tribes living in the area felt that they had no representation in the matter and that the land was still theirs. This led to the Battle of Fallen Timbers. At this battle American Soldiers fought the natives who were supplied by British from Fort Miamis. The defeat of the American Indians led to the Treaty of Greenville (see Garst Museum Below).

Fort Meigs – This fort with stood 2 attacks from the British and defended the Ohio country during the War of 1812. This is a full standing fort with a visitors center.

Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Library and Museum: The home and Museum of The former Civil War General and 19th President. For more information see our review.

Southwest and the Civil War

William Henry Harrison Tomb – The resting place of the 9th President and Ohio Indian Wars Veteran. He was the first president to die in office and is still the short serving person to have held the office. See our review here

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – This museum is dedicated not only to the Underground Railroad and the struggle of American Slaves, but the struggle of all people for equality, even in modern times. The museum is a powerful testament to the struggles that lead to the Civil War.

William Howard Taft National Historic Site: The birthplace and boyhood home of the 27th President. Governor of the Philippines following the Spanish American war, Secretary of War, and Commander in Chief gives this site some great military background.  See our review here

Land of Grant Grant Birthplace and Grant Boyhood home and School House – The 18th President and commander of the Union armies during the civil war. Visit where he was born, grew up and learned. See our review here.

West

Fort Jefferson – The site where St. Clair retreated after his defeat.

Garst Museum – Dedicated to the history of Darke county this museum tells the story of the Treaty of Greenville and the role it played in shaping Ohio. A nice large museum with lots of artifacts from the area. See our review here.

Fort Recovery – The site of the two largest and most important American Indian battles, The Defeat of St. Clair and the Battle of Fort Recovery. St. Clair had 900 of his 1200 men killed, about 1/4 of the US army. It is also the site of the fort that was built after the battle. It was this fort that allowed the US to win the next battle and led to the signing of the Treaty of Greenville.

Northeast

Fort Steuben – Built to protect the surveyors of the northwest Territory. The Fort has a visitor center, full wood fort and large grounds surrounding it.

Fort Laurens – Site of the only Revolutionary War battle in the state.

McCook house – Home of the “Fighting McCooks.” Major Daniel McCook and his 9 sons and 6 nephews fought before and mostly during the Civil War.

The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum – The Tomb of William McKinley, the 25th President, and commander and chief during the Spanish-American War. Next to the tomb is the Library and Museum which house exhibits on the natural world, Stark County, and the life of the president. See our review here. 

Bears Mill

6450 Arcanum Bears Mill Rd,
Greenville, OH 45331
https://www.bearsmill.org

Bears Mill in Darke County is one of the last water powered mills still in operation in Ohio today. The 4 story mill has become more of a museum than a full day to day mill. The mill still mills tho.

Bear Mill has a shop on the first floor with a wide variety of kitchen utensils, pottery, decor, and ever chaining selection of art. Of course the shop also offers a selection of grains milled on site. The shop is a nice place to get a gift, or even just to get something for oneself.

The difference between Bear Mill and other local shops is in the mill itself. The mill is still in operation and during certain times one can actually see the grinding going on. When the miller is away the museum still is informational. The four floors are full of informational placards and pictures of the older days. Along with the working equipment are artifacts and items to support the story of how a mill works. One of the unique things about Bear Mill is that it has both the old buhr stone along with newer roller mills. Most mills discarded the old stones when they got the new rollers. The fact that the mill has both is a testament to the history that is preserved at the site.

Along with the beautiful mill are the acres of land surrounding it. Take a hike along the powerful Greenville Creek and see the force that drives the wheels inside. Sit and enjoy the sounds of the water and nature at the gazebo near-by.  Bears Mill has something for everyone.

Maid Rite

125 North Broadway St.
Greenville, Ohio 45331
http://maidrite-greenville.com

Right down the street from the Garst Museum is the Famous Maid-Rite. Named Best burger in Ohio at times, but the award like the meat in the sandwich, is loose.

The meat in a Maid Rite is closer to a dry sloppy joe than a hamburger. It is steamed and seasoned, not fried. It is slightly sweet and will fall off the bun. The size is not quite a slider but with the looseness of the meat not quite a full sandwich. Two will be only slightly more than an average hamburger. The Maid Rite is not the only sandwich the restaurant has. For a more filling option the Big Jim is a maid rite with cheese and a slice of ham. They also have chicken salad, egg salad, and just ham, and ham and cheese sandwiches.

Along with the sandwiches are drinks and chip options, and desserts. The chips are Dayton’s own Mike Sells. The drink menu is large. Fountain drinks, bottle and sports drinks, and even something for the older folks (beer) are all available. The dessert menu includes traditional shakes, malts and sundaes.

The building is small and has limited seating. Not a problem at times, but seating can be an issue at meal times when the place is busy. In a hurry? Try the drive through. Want something to remember the place by? They sell hats and t-shirts in store.

Maid rite as the name says is maid right. The loose meat sandwich will leave one full and happy while the local atmosphere will leave one reminded of simple times in Greenville.

Caesar Creek State Park: An Update

Original Post: Caesar Creek

The popularity of boating at the park has led to the creation of a Marina. The Marina at Caesar Creek was in the original plans for the lake. It is located down the road from the beach swimming area. It has a small concessions shop with food and drinks, fishing supplies (license needed to fish in Caesar Creek) and boat supplies. The marina also has coin op laundry for the hiker, camper, or boater.

Being that the marina is a marina it does have items for boaters. 91 Octane Gas without Ethanol is available along with a pump out station. The marina itself has 112 seasonal slips, but due to the popularity of boating at the park they fill up each year. 20% are available via a lottery in August. They also have 10 Transient Slips open each day.

Before the marina was built the water level had to be lowered in the Creek. While the water was lower the state took the opportunity to do archaeological research on the area. The study found nothing of note as the area had been searched before the lake was filled.

The marina is not the only new thing at the park. On the trail to the Horseshoe falls is a new large swinging bridge. the bridge is a nice addition to an already scenic area.

 

Garst Museum

205 North Broadway, Greenville, OH 45331
http://garstmuseum.org/home.php

What’s larger than a bread box?
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The Garst Museum in Greenville Ohio is larger than your average local history museum. This museum, while not as big as Carillon Historic ParkCleveland History Center, or the former Cincinnati History Museum, is not small. The multiple wings of the building are crammed full of interesting artifacts and history.

The museum starts by telling tp09-24-16_12-08he history of the most famous event in Darke County, the signing of the Greenville Treaty. The treaty was not signed right as either side entered the area, but after societies were built and battles fought. The museum does a great job of setting up that history. With plenty of artifacts of the time and information to describe and explain the use of the artifacts. So much information that it can almost get overwhelming. The Garst fortunately uses multimedia displays to break up the text and to give a bit of living history too.

Darke County did not end on August 3, 1795 and neither does the museum. The museum continues on to tell the story of two of the areas most famous children, Annie Oakley and Lowell Thomas. The Annie Oakley National Center houses pieces of Annie’s own effects. Not just the guns she fired as a famous sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, but clothes, jewelry,  souvenirs, trophy’s and so much more. The center helps to break apart the myth of Annie Oakley as tomboy and show her real life as complicated as it was.

The Lowell Thomas section tells the life of the globe trotting man who made Lawrence of Arabia famous. The Garst Museum goes beyond the story of the desert and tells the whole life of the man from birth, with the Lowell’s Birthplace outback, to his death.

p09-24-16_12-55Most of the rest of the museum is dedicated to the history of Darke County as an average American county. Inside of small rooms set along the walls are vintages of American life. Displays of what a kitchen, beauty shop, dentist office, and more would look like are filled with actual artifacts from said places. Along with the small rooms is another large room filled with more leftover pieces. This room is a great place for grandparents to take kids and teach them about the items they saw in their grandparents houses or even used themselves.

The upstairs houses one of the best displays of military uniforms in the state. With cases of uniforms and other memorabilia from almost every war the country has been in. All donated by local citizens or their families.

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The Garst Museum in Greenville works hard to live up to the “Best History Museum” award it was given by the Ohio Magazine and it shows. This museum is a great visit for people of all ages, even if you don’t live in Darke County.

Schmidt’s Sausage Haus: Updated!

Original Post: Schmidt’s Sausage Haus

NEW: Food trucks (http://www.schmidthaus.com/sausage-truck/)

Schmidt’s Sausage Haus is still serving the classic German fare it has for over 100 years. They still have the Autobahn Buffet. They still are in the old building that fills up on weekends and is hard to park at during busy hours. They have added a food trucks to help with this problem.

We have not been to the food truck yet, but have been to their tent at local fares. The food is just as good as at the original location and the cream puffs just as large. The food trucks are outside of  business most days. They have more than one truck and generally spread through out the city pretty well. They also have a truck tracker and schedule on their website. On weekends in the fall they are with everyone else in Columbus at the OSU games. So where ever one might be in Columbus they are never to far from good German food.

Tip: Visit Schmidt’s on most social media platforms @SchmidtsCbus.