Last weekend I joined some friends on a visit to Nashville. That was fun! We got back Monday afternoon, and -- because I had originally blocked off more time for that trip, I planned to use the remaining time for a jaunt across Ohio, to take in some of the remaining counties.
My first stop was Hocking County, where Hocking Hills State Park is located. Several folks here have told me how beautiful the area is; they go regularly. They were correct. I stayed at a hotel near Logan, the county seat, and found dinner at Jacks Steak House. I have to admit, when I walked in, the place looked more like a diner than a steakhouse, but the food was good and the service was great, and prices very fair.
There's a lot to see and do in this area; there are cabins everywhere, with lots of opportunities for fishing, hiking and maybe hunting. I took in several of the sites, all of which involved some hiking. Here is "Ash Cave," so called because of ashes found on the floor, presumably from millennia of human habitation.
You can't see it, but there is a stream that trickles down from the rocks above. Things are very dry in Ohio these days.
You can hike all around to these sites; or you can do as I did, drive from place to place, and walk shorter distances. The next stop, Cedar Falls, involved some down and up. Again, the falls were only a trickle:
Here are the walls of the valley I walked through to the falls.
My last stop in the park was "Old Man's Cave," so named because some fellow with two dogs lived some while in these environs:
This picture doesn't do it justice. This vista reminded me of one of the elven habitations in Tolkien's works.
I will return there! But for now, we press on to Perry County My intended destination were Shawnee, a kind of "ghost town," and San Toy, of which only bare remnants remain. First, however, I passed the New Straitsville library, which looked a lot like a train station:
According to Wikipedia, striking coal miners started a fire in the coal mine there in the 1800s that burns to this day! Sorry I didn't get to see that! Over some serious hills, I made my way to Shawnee:
The whole downtown is two blocks, this shows you one side of one block; the rest is about the same, although there are a few buildings still occupied, including by the local historical society. In the middle of this photo is a tavern that almost looks still in operation. But look closer: the entrances are boarded up; yet a grill still sits on the front porch. People still live around here, however.
As I made my way to San Toy, more decay:
There was a lot of this. As it happens, I never found the remnants of San Toy, but I did find this church. A sign of hope:
As I drove over the hills hereabouts, passing into Morgan County, I paused to capture this vista:
I'm not good at photos; it was beautiful. Ohio doesn't really have mountains, but this area and the rest I passed through comes closest.
From San Toy I headed east to cross the Muskingum River at McConnelsville. I stopped by the river to get a nice shot of a bridge, which involved walking the plank, as it were. This walkway was very rusty, steeper than it looks, and made some distressing sounds as I stepped onto it.
Here's the bridge:
Here's the village square, which was pretty busy when I took this photo; also some fun looking places nearby. In the background you can see the Opera House, where William Jennings Bryan held a meeting at one time. Despite being the county seat, McConnelsville is only a village -- not large enough to be a city.
Now it was time to head for Washington County. My original plan was to make for Marietta, on the river, but I decided to skip that. Sorry Marietta! Instead I decided to stop in Beverly, several miles down the river, and then turn north. At Beverly, I noticed this lock near the gas station where I stopped:
Also, a boat blew up here some time back:
My next stop was a town called Fulda (and Noble County), where I wanted to see an old Catholic church. There was no direct route; I had some ups and downs and arounds over Ohio's not-quite-mountains. As I drove down State Route 564 -- a newly paved road that I seemed to have all to myself on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon -- I passed the Ashton Inn. Pausing to take a photo, I first asked the fellow standing on the porch if it was OK. After a pause he said, "Don't matter me none."
More twists and turns, including over some gravel roads; then the spire of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception loomed over the treetops as I turned into Fulda:
The church looks like it might have been designed for a steeple that was never added. Next door was a sizeable rectory, and what might have been a small school behind. Here are two photos from inside. This mural is in the vestibule:
There was a picture of Pope Benedict on the back wall of the nave; I did not find a portrait of Pope Francis.
From here I made my way over another hill to Carlisle; as I came down the hill, I found St. Michael Catholic church. The bulletin I picked up told me the pastor was responsible for both these churches, plus two more in nearby Calwell. The road I took over that hill was partly gravel; if that is washed out or snowed over, the priest has a much longer way around.
From here I headed east to Monroe County. I actually made it to Lewisville, but I can't find any pictures. Here's a lonely intersection as proof I was there:
This is Summerfield, on the way toward Cambridge, where I was staying the night:
Just beyond that was a huge industrial plant, I'm not sure what goes on here. Marathon Oil owned it. By the way, I did see a few oil pumps here and there, and signs referring to fracking.
Pleasant City (which brought me into Guernsey County):
Sorry, no photos of the "Microtel," or the restaurant!
Next day I drove up to the nearby Salt Fork State Park. After taking in the sites of Hocking Hills, I chose to do a quick drive through; but there are caves and trails here, too, and also a lake for swimming. After this, I drove back down to I-70 and headed east into Belmont County.
I was going to find an old schoolhouse, only I drove past it before I checked the directions! I did find my way to an old bridge, from the days of the original National Road, which later became U.S. 40. And I took a picture (or so I thought). Anyway, here's a link at Wikipedia. (By the way, only with this bridge did I realize that when Wikipedia provides latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates, you can click on these and Google Maps will give you directions to that spot! Neat.) I did get a shot of the courthouse in St. Clairsville:
From here I drove north on U.S. 250. I stopped in Harrisville -- just inside Harrison County -- for this shot:
From here I continued up to Cadiz (a local told me how to pronounce it: "CAT is"). I noticed this church, the Scott Memorial United Methodist Church:
If it's not clear, a lot of the church is underground, with just a narrow band of windows admitting light. I searched the website for more about the structure, but couldn't find it.
Here's the courthouse in Cadiz. I parked here and found a shop nearby for a sandwich.
From thence I continued northwest on U.S. 250, making for Tuscarawas County, past lovely Tappan Lake. Somewhere I read that all the lakes in Ohio -- apart from Lake Erie of course -- are man-made. My destination was Gnadenhutten, where a group of Indians, who had converted to the Moravian sect, were massacred; it seems they were mistaken for another band of Indians who had raided the area. Again, I thought I had photos of the burial site for those killed, but alas.
Here's a photo of the Moravian church in Gnadenhutten:
From here I made my way into Holmes County, a center for the Amish. But first I passed through Sugarcreek, locally termed the "Little Switzerland of Ohio," and home of the world's largest cukkoo clock; I arrived in time to hear it strike 2 pm:
(Here I want to note that many times I've taken video with my phone, unintentionally. On this occasion, when I wanted to film a video, I couldn't figure out how.)
From here I made for Berlin, and the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center. Fascinating fact: Amish represent 40 percent of Holmes County; and a majority of the residents speak either German or "Pennsylvania German"!
Both an inside and outside tour are offered at the heritage center; I signed up both; they are short.
Here's a mural on the outside of the center, depicting the Amish/Hutterite/Anabaptist immigrants arriving on these shores, thirsting for religious liberty:
Here's our guide (in red shirt) showing us the one room schoolhouse. First it was a public school, later an Amish school, now an exhibit. He told us many of these schools are still in use around the area; Amish children attend school through eighth grade.
Here's the barn, where they have an original Conestoga wagon which Amish would have driven across Pennsylvania to Ohio. He showed us the bucket that held the wheel grease; it still smelled of grease.
Here he showed us how the Amish "do" church: they don't have church buildings; instead, worship rotates from farm to farm, and this wagon carries the benches, hymnbooks and other supplies used by the congregation. One of the things he explained was that the austerities the Amish embrace -- such as not using electricity or owning automobiles -- are seen not as sinful, per se, but rather as things that threaten the integrity of their family life. Our guide told us his parents had been Amish, but switched to Mennonite. (Amish, German Baptist, Mennonite, and Brethren are all theological cousins belonging to the Anabaptist movement identified with Menno Simons).
After this came the inside tour, which involved a narrated tour of a massive circular mural named the "Behalt Cyclorama." Painted in 1992, it tells the story of the Amish and related groups from their beginnings in central Europe and their migration to many places around the world. Photos were not allowed, but go here for more about the mural. Given the origins of the movement, the narration wasn't exactly in line with Catholic belief; but I didn't think it would be winsome of me to argue with the gentleman every time he got history or Scripture wrong.
From here I drove south into Coshocton, my last county of the day. As I did, the near-mountains shifted to bigger, and then softer hills; this was more what people think of as Ohio. Here's the courthouse:
Then, on my way home, I passed through Newark; and I remembered, that's where Longaberger Baskets is headquartered. Here's their impressive, basket-shaped building, from the highway, at 70 mph:
After this, one more tour, back to the northeast, for the last four counties: Summit, Stark, Columbiana and Carroll. If all goes well, that will be at the end of the month. Stay tuned!