Marysville to Marion – April 2015 – Honda’s and Popcorn

This weekend’s adventures began at the Honda Heritage Center, across from the Marysville Honda Auto Factory.

In 1978 Honda began to produce motorcycles at a factory in Marysville, with an auto plant following in 1982. Because of this Ohio connection the company chose Marysville to built the company’s new Heritage Center, which will showcase its advances in automobiles, powersports, power equipment, aviation and robotics over the past 55 years.

The displays included a number of automobiles, motorcycles, engines and even a jet airplane. While the museum details the brand’s 55-year history in North America, its primary focus will be on Honda’s history in Ohio.

The day we visited it was very quiet as they hadn’t yet advertised their opening and we had the place to ourselves.

From Marysville we made the 30 mile trip to Marion, the adult home of Warren Harding. Marion in general is a run down town, and the Harding Home is in a nondescript east side neighborhood.

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The Harding Home, the residence of Warren G. and Florence Harding from 1891 to 1921, has been open continuously as a museum since 1926. The museum opened just three years after President Harding died from a heart attack in 1923. Mrs. Harding died just 15 months later from kidney disease, which had plagued her for many years. In her will, she made arrangements for the home and the bulk of the contents to go into the hands of the Harding Memorial Association.

The home was built for Harding and his then fiancé in 1891. When the principal contenders for the 1920 Republican presidential nomination deadlocked, party leaders picked Harding as the compromise candidate. During the campaign Harding spoke to thousands of people from the wide Colonial Revival front porch of his home. He was famous as an orator, with a powerful, expressive voice. So many people came to hear him that the family had to replace the front lawn with gravel.

The small white clapboard building behind the house served as press headquarters during the 1920 campaign. A portable tin voting booth used during the 1920 election is on the property as well.

Across town is the Harding Tomb. The structure was completed in 1927. It is designed in the style of a circular Greek temple with marble columns, built of Georgia white marble and are 28 feet high and 5 feet in diameter at the base. The structure is 103 feet in diameter and 53 feet in height.

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At their deaths, the bodies of the Hardings were entombed in Marion Cemetery.  Once the Harding Memorial was completed in 1927, the bodies were re interred in the Memorial’s sarcophagus and it was sealed. Because Harding’s reputation was damaged by personal controversies and presidential scandals, the Harding Memorial was not officially dedicated until 1931 by President Herbert Hoover.

The Marion Union Station is still standing, and it serves as a clubhouse for the Marion Railfans. This station sits at a unique rail crossing where the tracks cross each other at 90 degree angles.

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The Old U.S. Post Office in Marion was built in 1910, it is currently used as the Heritage Hall museum by the Marion County Historical Society. Heritage Hall is also home of the Wyandot Popcorn Museum, the “only museum in the world dedicated to popcorn and its associated memorabilia

Some of the notable items in the collections are: a large collection of political badges used during the 1920 Presidential campaign; an 1879 hand-pulled pumper used by the Marion Fire Department; memorabilia related to the 1938 Miss America reign of Marilyn Meseke, as well as Prince Imperial Norman horse born in France in 1865.

Under a colorful circus tent inside Heritage Hall is the largest, most impressive collection of popcorn wagons and peanut roasters in the United States. The perfect setting for the Wyandot Popcorn Museum. These priceless wagons date back as far as the turn of the century and have been restored to their original condition. Actor Paul Newman’s antique popcorn wagon, which sat in New York City’s Central Park, is also on display at the museum. All of the classic antique poppers are here – Cretors, Dunbar, Kingery, Holcomb & Hoke, Cracker Jack, Long-Eakin, Excel and more. Even a few homemade one-of-a-kind antiques. Wyandot museum craftsmen have done the restorations so well you will think they were built yesterday. Two are 100 years old.

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This museum center was nicely done, the docents were enthusiastic, and best yet, they gave us fresh popcorn at the end of our visit.

The Marion County Fairgrounds has a building that houses the Huber Manufacturing Museum. Edward Huber came to Marion to build his revolving hay rake. Besides the hay rake, you will see almost every model of early gas farm tractor and, a 1914 Steam Traction Engine, a corn shredder, several separator/threshers, and other farm machines. Some of the construction equipment include an original 5D grader and a Model 600 Huber Maintainer, a 3-wheel road roller, two two-wheeled transportable road rollers and a 1920 Model 21 Marion Steam Shovel.

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The building was open to wander, with a few of the machines open to climb on. The volunteers had first had knowledge of the equipment and gave great insight into the company, the equipment and their functions.