Take a Drive!


Autumn is my favorite time to travel. With the lazy days of summer behind us and school back in session, daydreaming about a quick getaway becomes an alluring pastime.

Dream no more! Check out www.SeeOhioFirst.org for The New Ohio Guide driving tours. With eleven audio tours to choose from, you’ll find fascinating heritage itineraries on a wide variety of themes that will introduce you to places in Ohio you never imagined.
Drive through Cleveland’s ethnic neighborhoods, or along the Maumee River to visit War of 1812 sites. Or start in the Dayton area for a tour that takes you from the Wright Brothers bicycle shop to Neil Armstrong’s moon lander in Wapakoneta.

Each audio tour introduces you to heritage experts and is narrated by an individual intimately familiar with the route. The tours are downloadable to disk or mobile devise, and most come with turn-by-turn directions, listed on the website.

This Autumn, see Ohio first.

Memorial Day Weekend

Celebrate Memorial Day weekend by taking a trip to significant Ohio military sites. Check out www.SeeOhioFirst.org! The New Ohio Guide offers a drive along Lake Erie (Tour 8) that includes a visit to Johnson’s Island on Lake Erie, site of a Civil War prison camp. The tour, which starts in Sandusky and ends in Archbold, includes stops at several historic and scenic attractions, with a little viviculture thrown in to whet your whistle. Or choose Tour 6 for a drive through the Maumee Valley to visit sites associated with the War of 1812, including Fort Meigs in Perrysburg where re-enactors recreate historic battles that helped secure America’s hold in the Old Northwest. Downloads of the tours are free, so check out www.SeeOhioFirst.org.

An interesting item just crossed my desk:
Muskingum County Community Foundation director David Mitzel recently stated “You have to know where you’re going to get there.” So to guide visitors to the thriving artist community in downtown Zanesville, the foundation helped the Zanesville Downtown Association produce a map featuring shops, galleries, and studios. Quoted on www.WHIZNews.com, David said the map will help art lovers find the hidden gems around town. Copies of the map are available at locations listed here: http://http://www.visitzanesville.com/businesses/artist_colony_of_zanesville

SeeOhioFirst.org Launches 2012 Travel Season

In 1940, the Federal Writers Project produced a massive book detailing the scenic treasures and everyday life along Ohio’s roads – roads that went through the big cities as well as through farmland and tucked-away places. 70 years later, the roads have changed and the pulse of the people is different – in some places. The Ohio Humanities Council has launched The New Ohio Guide Audio Tours at SeeOhioFirst.org.

“Long before Ohio had an interstate system, the Federal Writers Project staff traveled the state’s main roads to compile a history of Ohio,” said Pat Williamsen, Executive Director of the Ohio Humanities Council. “But the New Dealers also wanted to use tourism to spark the economy during the Great Depression – so they included driving tours as part of The Ohio Guide.”

OHC has updated eleven itineraries from the original Ohio Guide to encourage motorists to get off the interstate and enjoy Ohio’s small towns and scenic beauty. This new guide takes those older routes and gives them a 21st century twist — as free downloadable audio tours. Recorded by independent producers and public broadcasting partners, the tours highlight Ohio’s history, culture, and geography. Each tour on SeeOhioFirst.org is accompanied by maps, photographs, and other information.

Save gas; buy local – See Ohio First!

Chasing Oliver Hazard Perry

With the bicentennial of the War of 1812 just around the corner (on June 1, 1812 the United States declared war on Great Britain), it’s a good time to read up on the war. In my search for books about Ohio’s role in the War of 1812, I came across a delightful travel memoir by Craig J. Heimbuch — Chasing Oliver Hazard Perry: Travels in the Footsteps of the Commodore Who Saved America, (Cincinnati: Clerisy Press, 2010).

Acting on a lifelong fascination that began as a youngster visiting the Perry International Peace Memorial at Put-in-Bay, Heimbuch set out to learn all he could about the young naval commander who won the Battle of Lake Erie during the summer of 1813. Stirred by Perry’s brief report of victory – “We have met the enemy and they are ours” – Heimbuch wanted “to see if I could call upon Perry’s … spirit and do something brave.”

Doing something brave involved mimicking Perry’s “swagger,” at least in part. After a year of research, trip-planning, and pinching pennies, Heimbuch took off “to chase Oliver Hazard Perry to the ends of the earth – or all the way around Lake Erie, whichever worked better with my schedule.”

Chasing Oliver Hazard Perry is as much about the writer’s aspirations as about his inspiring hero. During the course of his journey, Heimbuch visited historical sites, boarded a replica of the Niagara, and contemplated his literary ambitions. Heimbuch has written an excellent history for non-historians, outlining the war on the western frontier in layman’s terms.

Craig Heimbuch is an award-winning journalist who lives and writes in Cincinnati. He is currently the editor-in-chief of ManoftheHouse.com, an on-line magazine “for the man who wears a dozen hats and worries about losing his hair.” Chasing Oliver Hazard Perry makes me hope that he finds time to write second travel memoir about another Ohio hero. Perhaps Mad Anthony Wayne?

Journeys to Freedom

A different kind of tourism than I might normally write about, but too interesting not to pass along — Miami University is offering a learning experience for sophomore level students, Journeys to Freedom: The Underground Railroad.

This 3-week workshop will provide students an immersion educational experience that will explore the various journeys into freedom of several different cultural groups important in Ohio history. This workshop will allow students to reclaim the Ohio histories associated with the journeys into freedom during some of the most important periods of the US history. Students will walk in the paths of runaway slaves and abolitionists, Native Americans and immigrants, Hispanics and women.

Team-taught by Rodney Coates, coatesrd@muohio.edu, and Nishani Frazier, frazien@muohio.edu. Additional information about content, requirements, and fees can be found at www.muohio.edu/study-abroad/journey-freedom.

Behind These Doors ….


Behind these doors at the Westerville Public Library ...

Ken Burns came to town today to premiere his  latest  documentary, “Prohibition.”
First stop on his itinerary was the Westerville Public Library for a luncheon with civic leaders and library employees.

What? Ken Burns in Westerville? Why the great civic pride?

Besides the fact that Ken Burns is a great filmmaker — and who wouldn’ t want to have lunch with him? — behind those doors, Ken Burns and his research team poured over the

Burns raised a glass of iced tea in a toast to the library for its stewardship of the history of the Anti-Saloon League.

Anti-Saloon League Museum collection.

“Here’s the story of Prohibition – not the gangsters or the flappers” of popular imagination,   Burns said. In the local history collection at the Westerville Public Library, Ken Burns found the story of “ordinary people” who created an extraordinary national movement that led to the 18th amendment and the prohibition of alcohol production and consumption in the United States.

Directors Lynn Novick and Ken Burns with Beth Weinhardt, WPL Local History Coordinator

The Anti-Saloon League was founded in Oberlin in 1893. The organization moved to Westerville several years later, which earned the town distinction as “The Dry Capitol of the World.” Westerville remained dry until just a few years ago, but the local history collection at WPL is a favorite stop for temperance-loving historians.

What’s in your library?

Grants Available from Foundation for Appalachian Ohio

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio is inviting proposals from organizations throughout Ohio’s 32-county Appalachian region for projects supporting creative environmental education and stewardship projects. Funding is available from the Foundation’s American Electric Power Access to Environmental Education Fund.

The Foundation is looking for projects that build on the unique assets of the region’s individual communities, provide opportunities for youth to participate in experiences tied to local natural resources, and which encourage participants to share lessons learned with the broader community. Requests may range from $250 to $1250. Applications may be submitted electronically by Friday, October 14, 2011.

For more information about this special grant opportunity, go to www.appalachianohio.org.

Ohio Humanities Council Wins Transportation Enhancement Grant

Ohio Humanities Council Wins Transportation Enhancement Grant ODOT/TE funds will be used for The New Ohio Guide Heritage Tours

COLUMBUS, OHIO – February 2010 – The Ohio Humanities Council has been awarded a $115,000 Transportation Enhancement grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation to produce The New Ohio Guide Heritage Tours.

The funds will support production of audio guides and a multi-media website of driving tours based on The Ohio Guide, written by the Federal Writers Project in the 1930s and 1940s.

Published in 1940, The Ohio Guide sought to capture local history, boost local economies through tourism, and introduce travelers to scenic and historic treasures along the state’s roads.  Written long before the introduction of the interstate highway system, the original publication outlined 23 tours along what became Ohio’s secondary highways.  The New Ohio Guide will echo the original purpose – to introduce motorists to the rich travel opportunities available in Ohio and to assist local tourism economies.

“Ohio’s rich heritage marks critical places in the rise of civilization, growth of democracy, and spirit of invention,” said Dr. Julie Goldsmith, executive director of the Ohio Humanities Council. “The Ohio Humanities Council will serve as a catalyst for economic development by advancing tourism related to the state’s history and culture.”

The Transportation Enhancement grant will help underwrite recreation of ten of the original tours.  Partnering with public broadcasting stations, independent media producers and scholars, the Ohio Humanities Council will select routes that make a compelling case for travel in Ohio. From the mound structures built by ancient civilizations, to the pathways to freedom bravely forged by slaves along the Underground Railroad, to the aviation pioneers who saw mankind’s dreams in the skies, Ohio’s story is an inspiring one that we will celebrate through tourism.”

Production on The New Ohio Guide Heritage Tours will begin in 2011 and continue throughout 2012.

CONTACT: Fran Tiburzio
Pat Williamsen

Poor Man’s Bananas

The weather in Central Ohio is beginning to hint of Autumn – cool, crisp mornings, a slight change in the light that will become more golden as the season progresses, the aroma of falling leaves.  It’s a good time to take a drive, to gather up late fruits and vegetables to stock up for winter.

So gas up the car, load in the kids and head down to Albany for the 12th Ohio Paw Paw Festival!  The Festival begins Friday evening on September 17 and runs through Sunday, September 19.

And just what is a Paw Paw?  Native to Ohio’s Hill Country, paw paw trees dot the hillsides, producing clusters of oblong fruits. Called the “poor man’s banana,” the fruit offers the flavors of banana, mango, and melon.  In 2008, it was designated Ohio’s official native fruit.

The Ohio Paw Paw Association partners with the Ohio Hill County Heritage Area to hold the annual festival at Lake Snowden, on the Appalachian Highway, just west of Athens.  As with the many food festivals in the state, this one features everything paw paw – art work, ice cream, chutneys, jelly — even microbrews!

Don’t expect a midway carnival – the Paw Paw Festival has an emphasis on sustainable agriculture and cuisine.  So do take advantage of several workshop offerings about growing paw paws or outlining the health benefits of the fruit.  Several cooking demonstrations are scheduled throughout the weekend.  A kids’ activity tent will help the youngsters enjoy the trip, too.

For more on the Festival, including a schedule of events and directions, go to www.ohiopawpawfest.com.