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12 days of Holiday Activities 2018 – Day #3

Ohio Statehouse Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting:

December 6, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

This year’s holiday festivities at the Ohio Statehouse open with the annual tree lighting on December 6th. The festival will include Carolers, local mascots, historical characters, dignitaries, and even Santa himself. The event is free.
http://www.ohiostatehouse.org/calendar/event?id=1294

Through out the rest of the season there will be weekday lunchtime choir concerts in the Museum Gallery in the basement of the Statehouse. In the past the performances have included local groups and high school choirs from around the state. As always the concerts are free and open to the public.
http://www.ohiostatehouse.org/calendar/event?id=1308

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Cincinnati Observatory

3489 Observatory Place, Cincinnati, Ohio 45208

https://www.cincinnatiobservatory.org

We went to the Cincinnati Observatory on a sunny weekday afternoon, probably not the best day to go to an observatory, but we did get a laid back uncrowded personal experience. The Cincinnati Observatory is located on top of the hills of Mt. Lookout in Cincinnati. This Observatory is the oldest, still in use, in the United States. The observatory consists of two buildings. The two buildings house the main 11-inch Merz and Mahler refractor and the 16-inch Alvan Clark and Sons refactor. We visited the main building that house the 16-inch Clark telescope. The building was designed by the famous architect Samuel Hannaford. One can visit this observatory most afternoons during weekdays. These afternoons are reservation free.  There are many special events and astronomy nights on Thursdays and Fridays. These are the nights to look through the telescopes. There are also events on the weekends. Check out their website for these events and to make reservations.

The main building has a rotunda and two levels. The first level is a museum type of room. One can walk around the room at their leisure and look at the astronomy related artifacts. There are also daily tours (small cost) of both buildings. We did not take the tour, but lucked out and had a sort-of  guide tour of the Clark telescope. After finishing on the first floor, one can go to the second floor and look at the telescope. When we visited the friendly and knowledgeable staff gave us a tour of the telescope. Not sure if this is standard practice, but it was much appreciated. 

This museum/observatory does not take long to visit, but is packed with many interesting artifacts. It would be good to visit the telescope during the day, then return for one of the night time viewing. This would be a great place for kids, because it is highly education and just long enough to keep their attention. Kids would probably really enjoy the night time viewings. The place is not hard to find and access or out of the way. One major tip is to visit their website to find out about special events and open hours. A visit to the observatory can easily be added to a visit to another great Cincinnati attraction.

A day or night visit to the Cincinnati observatory is well worth it, even if you have little interest in astronomy or space.

 

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 Discovery 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 Mound Cold War Discovery Center tells the story of what Dayton did for the Project, why they it continued its work, and what finally happed to it in the end. From being the first post war site built by the Atomic Energy Commission to the beginning of the 21st century, the role the site played was both militaristic and peaceful. The Museum is 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 cleanup 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 without 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, also free,  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.

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 her. On February 9, 1906 in this house he 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 his 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 too small for a journey to the area, the House is only 1/2 mile 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.

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 just down the highway from Armstrong Air and Space Museum. The tour starts at 2pm and leaves 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. As the name says it is also where Airstreams are brought to be serviced. The tour is popular thing to do while waiting on service. The guide will give each person a pen (a great souvenir) to sign a waiver 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 visitor’s ears but also block out the guides voice. To get around this one member of the group is given a portable speaker and is kept at the back of the tour. 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 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. 

Downtown Miamisburg

Miamisburg, Ohio

http://exploremiamisburg.com

Miamisburg, Ohio is the only one in the world. The outer areas of the city house many of the chain/big box stores of the southern Dayton area. The downtown region is quite the opposite. It holds the soul of the town.

Downtown Miamisburg has shops and restaurants like most downtown regions in Ohio. Many of the places sell food and food related products, or ways to burn off the food. The selection of restaurants is similar but varied. The most well-known being the world famous Hamburger wagon. Within walking distance there are more burger joints, barbecue places, a pizza parlor, and ice cream shops. A unique candy shop, cupcake shop, and donut shop round of the meal with a little bit of sweet.

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Afraid the calories are adding up? Rent a bike and ride on the one of the world’s best bike ways. A large portion runs along the river and through the downtown area. Many of the shops actually cater to bikers.

Not in the mood to move much? Take in a show at one of the area entertainment venues. See classic movies at the Plaza Theatre, it’s hard to miss the giant sign. During the summer the city offers free music by the river almost every week, with most weekends having a festival too. While the city is great for families, the ‘burg caters to the adults too.

Plenty of bars and two breweries are great place to meet people and hang out with friends. A few of them have live music. Throughout the year the city sponsors events aimed at the kid in the all adults. The most popular is Boo in the ‘Burg, a chance for adults to go trick or treating in their own way.

Before leaving the downtown area make sure to check out the historic areas too. Two small museums, a walking tour and a historic Mound tell the story of the region. The Miamisburg Mound is one of the most visible objects in the city and was created by thousands of years ago by the early inhabitants of the region. The Daniel Gebhart Tavern Museum is dedicated to the early settlers of what would become Miamisburg. The Mound Cold War Discovery details the secretive work done for the government. The Mound Laboratory was a nuclear facility that started after the end of WWII. The Laboratory built triggers for bombs and later the batteries for the space program.

Food, fun, and entertainment can all be found in downtown Miamisburg. Come for a meal, stay for the day. It is one of Ohio’s many treasures.

 

The 4th Hangar of The National Museum of the United States Air Force Museum

1100 Spaatz St,
Dayton, OH 45431

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is large. The NMUSAF is old. The NMUSAF is continually changing and growing trying to keep up with the technology of the Air Force.  On June 8th 2016 the museum added a fourth hangar.

The new hangar houses all of the presidential and research and development aircraft that had once been further on base. To get to them previously one had to sign up to take a guided tour. The tours were hourly and filled up fast. Once in the hangars time was limited before the buses had to return and pick up more visitors. The new hangar solves all these problems and gives the museum room to expand the collection even more.

The first thing one will notice when entering the new hangar is p06-16-16_16-191the Allan and Malcolm Lockheed and Glenn Martin Space Gallery. It is hard to miss the full size Space Shuttle Crew Compartment Trainer. While the museum was denied a real shuttle, the trainer is a nice alternative. All of the shuttles are set back from view in their respective museums. The trainer is front, center, and has great access for visitors to climb up and take a look inside. Along with the trainer are spacecraft from previous generations of space travel.  A Mercury capsule, a once top secret Gemini B capsule, and the Apollo 15th Command Module. Apollo 15 was an all Air Force member mission. Through out the 4th hangar are displays of object that might seem unrelated to the Air Force but the museum makes sure to point out the connection and explain the wide ranging reach of its branch of the armed forces.  The largest area in the Space Gallery is dedicated to spy satellites and reconnaissance recovery vehicles. The Air Force was responsible for launching cameras into space and recovering the film once the pictures were taken. In an adjoining part of the museum are some of the rockets they used. The sheer size of the cameras and film is incredible. The final section  is experiential crafts used to test the edge of space and how to get there. They segue nicely into the Research and Development Gallery.

When flown without tethers, the Avrocar was unstable and could reach top speed of only 35 mph. (U.S. Air Force photo)

When flown without tethers, the Avrocar was unstable and could reach top speed of only 35 mph. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Maj. Gen. Albert Boyd and Maj. Gen. Fred Ascani Research and Development Gallery houses aircraft that never made it into full production. These include wacky and impractical like the famous UFO like Avrocar or helicopters powered by jets on the tips of the blades. The gallery is mostly filled with planes that were test vehicles for technology that would later go on to be come a big part of the Air Forces arsenal. The display of early unmanned aerial vehicles like the The Lockheed D-21 and Boeing YQM-94A Compass Cope B to the more modern Boeing X-45A J-UCAS help to explain the rich history of what was once thought of as sci-fi tech, but is now standard in the drone aircraft in the other hangars.

The R&D gallery leads into the The Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner Global Reach Gallery. It tells the story of how the US Air Force has grown to have a reach into all corners of the world. The gallery house aircraft such as the The C-141 “Hanoi Taxi” Starlifter. It was the first aircraft to return P.O.W.’s from the war in Vietnam.

The final and most famous gallery is The William E. Boeing Presidential Gallery. This gallery house what is arguably the most famous air craft in the entire museum. SAM – 26000 was the aircraft that was used by many presidents. It is plane that was used by John F. Kennedy on his trip to Dallas in 1963. Now known by its tail number, it once had the famous call sign Air Force One. So did almost every other plane in the gallery. Almost all of the major planes used to transport presidents from the Sacred Cow to the smaller The C-20B . Quite a few, including SAM – 26000, can be boarded and walked through.

The newest addition to the National Museum of the United States Air Force is large enough to spend half the day in itself. It is worth a visit even if one has seen the museum quite a few times. Do make sure to allow time for it and all of the rest of the galleries in what is the one greatest museums in Ohio, the nation, and the world.

CRYPTOZOHIO: Cemeteries

Cryptozohio - Stories from the Depths

Ever since Settlers have been moving into Ohio they have had a need to take care of their dead. The most popular option has been to bury them in local cemeteries. As the cemeteries filled up stories of strange happenings have been told. These are just a few of the more popular ones from Ohio’s  most well know cemeteries.

DO NOT GO INTO A CEMETERY UNLESS ALLOWED! As with all cemeteries respect for the past, present, and future is required. If you want to go at night take a tour.

Cincinnati’s Spring Grove:
One of the United State’s largest cemeteries with over 700 acres of land. This along with the other of Ohio’s large rural garden cemeteries is a great place to walk around. But be careful, this place is said to be haunted. One such story is of a bust in section 100 that is said to have human eyes follow visitors as they pass. The Deter memorial is said to visited by to glowing white dogs. Other stories include the groundskeepers seeing hand and fingers sticking out of the ground as they mow.

Cleveland’s Lakeview Cemetery:
With a president, one of the riches men ever, and the untouchable man who helped bring down Al Capone, the history of Lakeview is everywhere. James Garfield  was shot only four months after his inauguration as America’s 20th president. It took over two months for him to succumb, not to the bullet, but to the poor care he was given by his doctors. At the time people commented that he had  already left his body and gone wandering around at times. Even after his burial this is said to be the case. The cemetery also houses it share of Weeping Angles and moving statues. The most famous is “The Angel of Death Victorious.” The Collinwood Memorial, where 10 unknown children from the Collinwood school fire are buried, is also located here. Probably the most eerie stories from the place are that of the moving tombstones.

Columbus’s Green Lawn Cemetery:
Home to many famous Ohioans, and not just politicians. The most famous haunted site in the 360 acre grounds is Hayden Mausoleum. A knock on its doors is said to be returned, or even more, by one of its residents. James Snook, Olympic medal pistol shooter, and murderer haunts the grounds.

Dayton’s Woodland Cemetery:
Most of the cities most famous residents are buried here. From the Wright brothers to James Ritty the names just seem to pop up around every corner. So do the less famous and more infamous. Some even say the residence themselves seem to pop up. The most famous is that of Johnny Morehouse. Morehouse was a boy who drown in the local canal. His dog tried to save him but was too late. For several days the dog was said to watch over the boys grave site. Since then the dog has been said to return to watch over the site from time to time. The cemetery also houses a lady in white ghost who is said to haunt the tops of the hill near her grave. A more modern teen girl is also said to inhabit the hillsides. Victims of Jack the Strangler , The Cincinnati Ripper, and many who made their own victims all rest uneasily throughout the grounds. The electric chair is responsible for quite a few of the graves, even as the story goes, one who helped to build it.

Happy Centennial National Parks

Today marks the 100th birthday of our National Parks Service. The parks service started in 1916. The first park was established in Ohio in 1923.  From that day forward the parks have been one of the great attractions in the state. The parks have something for everyone.

A Brief Timeline of National Parks Service in Ohio

1923 –Hopewell Culture: Started as part of the Mound City Group National Monument. It is fitting that this was the first park because it is dedicated to the history of Ohio’s earliest inhabitants

1966 – Perry’s Victory & International Peace MemorialA monument to the Commander of the Battle of Lake Erie during the war of 1812. Also memorializes the war as the last conflict between the United States, Britain, and Canada.

1969 – William Howard Taft National Historic Site: The boyhood home, and later family home, of the 27th president of the United States.

1980 – David Berger National MonumentA monument to one of athletes killed at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.
North Country Scenic Trail: Established as one of the longest of the 11 scenic trails. In Ohio it connects to the Buckeye Trail and runs through Hocking Hills, one of Ohio’s most hiked areas.
James A Garfield National Historical Site: The Home of 20th President James A Garfield. Considered the first Presidential Library in America.

1992 – Dayton Aviation HeritageCelebrates the history of flight and the two Dayton Brothers who solved the problems of getting man in the air. Is spread out in 5 different locations through out Dayton.

1999 – Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Fort Miamis: The site of the battle of Fallen Timbers, the final battle in the Northwest Indian War, and the site of Fort Miamis, a British fort built to stop Gen. Wayne, which he eventually held.

2000 – Cuyahoga Valley: Originally created as a recreational area in 1974, Cuyahoga became a National park in 2000. This park celebrates the history of the people, canals, and nature of the northwestern Ohio valley.
First Ladies National Historical Site: Built in the home of Ida McKinley, this site is dedicated to the history of the wives of the Presidents of The United States.

2004 – National Heritage AreaIncorporated just after the Centennial of Flight this large area of western Ohio houses the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Armstrong Air and Space Museum, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, and Woodlawn Cemetery (with the graves of Paul Lawrence Dunbar and The Wright Brothers)

2013 – Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers: So new that it is not even finished opening yet. The Monument is dedicated to one of the most famous Buffalo Soldiers and first African-American national park Superintendent.