vacation

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. 

Summer Time in Ohio

As the weather warms we prepare for the changing of the season. Like the rain watering the flowers the warmer weather makes Ohio’s outdoor options grow. Ohio does not disappoint in the summer.

We have big plans for this Summer. We are excited to visit some more sports teams, see the new stuff at The Ohio History Center, goto a Drive in, and see a bunch of different roadside attractions along the way. So stay tuned over the next few months for a flurry of posts and reviews about the great state of Ohio.

Want to see the state, plan a trip with the help of Ohio’s tourism board or other helpful sites. Or just use our suggestions (click for more info):

Goto an Amusement Park:
Kings Island
Cedar Point
Coney Island
Zoombezi Bay

See a Show:
Drive-ins
Fraze Pavilion
Blossom Center for the Performing Arts
Riverbend Music Center
Express Live – Columbus
Toledo Zoo Ampitherater

See a game:
Dayton Dragons (the hardest seats to get in pro sports)
Cleveland Indians
Columbus Crew
Columbus Clippers
Cincinnati Reds
Toledo MudHens
Akron Rubber Ducks
Lake County Captains

Goto a Zoo:
Columbus Zoo
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The Toledo Zoo

Go to a park:
Ohio State Parks
National Parks in Ohio

Goto a Festival:
Ohio Festivals – a crazy good list of them.

Goto a Museum:
Cleveland History Center (formerly Wester Reserve Historical)
COSI
Cincinnati Museum Center
Toledo Museum of Art 
Dayton Art Institute

Go for a Drive:
Ohio Roadtrips

While we hope this gave you some great ideas for the summer, this is just a small portion of things to do in Ohio.

 

 

 

Ohio History Outside Ohio: Henry Ford Museum

Ohio’s contribution to the world is so grand that it is almost impossible to spend a day out and about and not use something made, invented, or improved by an Ohioan. From the cash register used to buy and sell products to the planes and cars used to transport them. Ohio is everywhere. This means that some of Ohio’s greatest artifacts are no longer in Ohio. Sometimes to learn about Ohio one must leave it.

Original Wright House and Shop

The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, MI, only 45 minutes from Toledo, house many pieces of Ohio’s contributions to the world.
The museum is broken up into 2 sections, the Ford Museum, and Greenfield Village. Greenfield Village is an open air museum housing many birthplaces, homes, and shops of some very famous people, including some of the artifacts from the world’s most famous Daytonians, Orville and Wilbur Wright. In 1937 Orville helped to move the Wright Cycle Shop where he and his brother built the first airplane. Along with the shop their original house and shed are part of the Main street section. Along with the Wrights house is the birthplace and smokehouse of William Holmes McGuffey. McGuffey was famous for writing the McGuffey reader, considered the first standard grade school textbook, while as a professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. An Entire section of the village is dedicated to Ohio native Thomas Edison, who was a good friend of Henry Ford. Included are recreations of his Menlo Park Complex.

DSCN1674Inside the main museum is a lot more artifacts from Ohio. The 1952 Oscar Mayer Wienermobile built by The Gerstenslager Company of Wooster Ohio is one of the first things visitors see as they enter. Included in the section on the history of furniture is many pieces built in Cincinnati. Cincinnati was a big manufacturing city during the early to mid 1800’s. As the exhibit passes over this time period many placards repeat the cities name. As is expected in a museum built by Henry Ford, a large portion is dedicated to the automobile. One such car is the first DSCN1765Japanese car, a Honda Accord, built in America. With the OHIO license plate USA – 001 it is hard to miss the Buckeye State heritage. The car was built in the Marysville Plant. Another exhibit is the history of tourism by car. This includes a camper used by Henry Ford and two Ohioans, Thomas Edison and  Harvey Firestone. The camper was used on outings the three took as friends.

With the great impact Ohio has had on the world it is no wonder a museum the size of the Henry Ford Museum would contain something of Ohio’s past, but the level of authentic world changing memorabilia makes it worth the short drive outside Ohio.

Historic Sauder Village

Link: https://www.saudervillage.org/

Sauder Village is named after Erie Sauder, the founder of Sauder Furniture. Sauders is known for its inexpensive ready to assemble products sold in many big box stores. The village started in 1970’s as a dream of Erie’s and soon became a reality. Over the years Sauder Village collected many old, but not unusual, buildings from around the black swamp area.

The village is divided into multiple sections. Each section has a theme that ties the buildings and surrounding grounds together. At the main entrance is the main village area. This area contains buildings that would be found in a typical small village of the 19th century, including a doctors office, a train station, a herb shop, and Sauder’s original workshop, a museum housing a large number of artifacts, and more. Beyond the main village is newcomers and natives area, telling about the early traders in the area and the original inhabitants. Further along is a pioneers settlement, which is tells about settlers of the area. Before swinging back into the main village the trail runs through a small homestead of (as of June 2015) the 1920’s.

Simon Tomell from Sauder village website

Each building contains many artifacts and history of the time period of the section of park it is in and of the use of the building. On busy days most have interpretors and artisans inside to help explain the history. These artists and interpretors are what bring the village to life. Everything from the daily routine of a pioneer, to what a barber charged, are brought to life through the stories and teachings of the

employees. If the building is dedicated to an art, such as tin-smithing, or glass blowing, it is run by an actual purveyor of the art. Not only will the tell of the history of the art, but will probably be working on something to sell. This living history is brought to life spectacularly through out the village and seamlessly woven in at the same time.

From a small child learning about the history of the Black swamp, to an older person watching the craftsmen ply their trade, Sauder Village will have a little bit of something for everyone interested in history.

Ohio’s “Amusing” Parks.

ohiosamusing Parks

Amusement parks are BIG in Ohio. From the record holding Cedar Point to the big Kings Island, Ohio has more than it’s share of rides and attractions to amaze.

History of The Ohio Amusement Park:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Amusement_parks_in_Ohio

Cedar Point:
Cedar Point is the second oldest operating park in the US. Cedar Point started life as a popular fishing and picnic peninsula.  In 1870 Louis Zistel started opened a ferry to locals to the area. A few buildings were built but it wasn’t until the 1890’s that rides were added. The first were simple raised tracks with cars that attendants had to manually move back to the top.

As with most parks in Ohio, Cedar Point was owned by a local transportation company and built up as a place for travelers to take a ride to. The company put George A. Boeckling in charge. During his tenure many more rides were constructed and the park expanded. Boeckling died in 1931 at the start of the Great Depression.

During the Depression and the War that followed little improvements were made to the park. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the aging park got a makeover. Over 1 million dollars were spent to bring the park back from the brink. in the 1960’s the idea of a “pay one price” ticket was all the introduced. in the 1970’s the great roller coaster boom began. In 1989 The Magnum XL became the first to break 200 feet and 70mph. From that point on Cedar point would be known as the roller coaster capital of the world with almost every new coaster breaking a world record.

Starting in 1997 Cedar Fair, the company that was created to own Cedar Point, started to buy other parks. To date the company owns 11 parks in 8 states and Canada.

Our Review of the park (from 2009)

Kings Island:
Kings Island was originally started as an effort to move the frequently flooding Coney Island (more below) to a drier location. Opened on April 29th, 1972 by Taft Broadcasting Company. The first few years saw many sitcoms and popular entertainers. Both the Brady Bunch (Cincinnati Kid) and The Partridge Family (I Left My Heart in Cincinnati). The most popular ride at the time was the Racer, thought to be one of the roller coasters that restarted the craze of the 70’s.  Over the years many famous, and a few infamous rides were added and removed. The Beast, still the world longest wooden roller coaster.

The parks has had many owners. First Taft Broadcasting Company, then KECO, then Paramount (former shareholder of Taft). Finally in 2006 the Cedar Fair, the owners of Cedar Point, bought the park along with many others.

Kings Island may be one of the newest parks in the state it is still one of the most loved and active in the nation.

Our Review of the park (2012)

Coney Island:
Coney Island was started in the 1870’s by James Parker, a framer who found that his land was more profitable as a tourist destination than a farm. Soon a dance hall, dining hall, and bowling alley were added. Eventually he sold the property to The Ohio Grove Company who labeled it “Ohio Grove, The Coney Island of the West.”

Over time the park expanded adding rides and carnival games. It had become one of the major attraction in Cincinnati. The location next to the river however lead to almost annual flooding. To fix this problem the park entered in to talks with Taft Broadcasting to build a new park further from the river. This park would come to be known as Kings Island. in September of 1971 the rides of Coney Island were moved to the new park. Eventually the new owners became to busy with its new parks to worry about the land near the river. In 1973 Coney Island reopened. With all of the attractions gone the park built Sunlite Pool, one of the largest in the world, to draw in customers. a few years later the park donated land to build Riverbend Music Center. This venue, which opened in 1984, is one of the leading concert venues in Ohio. Everyone from the Cincinnati Pops to the super popular Jimmy Buffet play there.

Despite all of the problems with nature, Coney Island is still one of the most popular attractions in the ever growing Cincinnati entertainment market.

Old but not Forgotten:

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Many old parks are gone, but not forgotten. Most have been turned into local parks, such as Argonne Forest Park becoming Possum Creek Metropark in Dayton. Some are still shells of their former life like LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park. The Ohio Channel will frequently play a great special about the old abandoned parks of Ohio. 10 Cents a Ticket The Stories and Glories of Old Amusment Parks

Kings Island

Link: http://www.visitkingsisland.com/

Rating:****

Quick Review: Southwest Ohio’s largest amusement park

It may not have the world’s tallest or fastest roller coasters but Kings Island does have something to offer. Roller coasters (3rd most in the world), thrill rides, shows, kid rides, or even a dinosaur can be found at this Southwest Ohio Icon.

From the classic days of Ohio’s amusement park glory is the Beast and the Racers. The Beast is the world’s longest wooden roller coaster, third longest overall. The famous wooden coaster snakes through the backwoods over two hills and through a twisting tunnel. It’s one ride that is always worth another go. The Racer is the other wooden coaster. A classic up and down coaster, it gets its name from the two mirror image tracks. At one time the trains rain in opposite directions, but now both run forwards. Along with the wooden coasters are many classic rides. The Scrambler, bumper cars, and Merry Go Round, are always a nice way to avoid the crowds.

The classics sit along side the modern at Kings Island. The newest being the Windseeker, a classic swing ride raised over 300 feet in the air. If steel coasters are your thing then the Diamondback , a fast loading high thrill ride, The Firehawk, a high speed upside down flying coaster, or Flight of Fear, an twisting indoor thrill, will satisfy. With the park now owned by Cedar Fair the list, at 14, is bound to get bigger and better.

If rides are not your thing then the park has much to offer. From the scenic train to the lovely walking paths to the Iconic Eiffel Tower. Even a dinosaur or two in the new Dinos Alive section. This section contains some of the largest robotic dinosaurs ever built.

So for a good time in southwest Ohio look no further than Kings Island.

Quick tip: rainy days, late in the season, and in middle of the week days have almost no crowds.