Lancaster, Ohio – September 2018 – Frontier Spirit Festival

The city of Lancaster is one of the older towns in Ohio. The initial settlers came here in the late 1700’s, with the town itself being officially founded on November 10,1800.

Each year the Frontier Spirit Festival takes place. This festival has numerous actors who represent people who were instrumental in the settlement of the area in 1799.

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Pre dating Ohio becoming a state, the area was wilderness for the first settlers. The festival does an excellent job describing, and demonstrating what it took for these settlers.

The festival takes place in a large park at the south end of Lancaster. After an introduction, you are lead on a mile long hike with stops along the way for more detailed interpretations from the actors.

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The first large group of settlers came from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, thus the name. So many of those who came were of German descent that one of the first newspapers was a German language newspaper, Der Ohio Adler.

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All of the actors are volunteers. Their period clothing and other items, such as their guns add to the presentation.

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They spoke of the challenges in settling in the wilderness. There are more than 150 players in the group.

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Lancaster was founded by Ebenezer Zane, who was a famous merchant, trail blazer, pioneer and soldier. Zane was instrumental in treaties with the Native American’s (much debate about how equitable those treaties were, but that is another story).

Zane was given a contract by the United States government to open a road from Wheeling, West Virginia (then Virginia) to Maysville, Kentucky. In payment for this road he was given 3 square mile tracts of land at the crossing of the 3 major rivers – the Muskingum, the Hockhocking and the Scioto Rivers.

To make money he needed settlers to come buy some of this land, so he offer bounties to people to lead groups of settlers through the wilderness to each of the towns that developed. These leaders often were wanted by the law back east, so they were more than happy to move to the wilderness and earn some money.

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Anyone settling in the wilderness then had to fend for themselves, being hunters, building their cabins, becoming farmers, and generally having no dependency on anyone else.

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The promise of a better life in Ohio in 1799 was often not what they were lead to believe. This actress portrayed a frontier wife who wanted nothing more than to go back to Philadelphia and civilization.

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The husband and daughter wanted to make a life here. As with today, many marriages were strained by the stress of the move.

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This actress portrayed a young woman who was moving to the frontier to be married. She carried with her a dowry, a bag of salt.

The theme of this years presentation was about salt, and how important it was to the pioneers. They needed salt to cure their meat so it would last for long periods of time, as well as many other uses.

Salt was so rare, and in so much demand that in the Ohio frontier of 1799 it was worth more per ounce than gold.

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Along the way we met Johnny Appleseed, whose real name was John Chapman. All American school children know the story of Johnny Appleseed, who went from place to place scattering apple seeds for trees to grow,

Only that wasn’t quite how it was. John Chapman did indeed travel around to encourage the planting of fruit trees, but they were much more structured in orchards. He would plant the orchards then work with a local farmer to tend to the orchard, and share in the profits.

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There were numerous Native tribes in the area when it was being settled. Obviously not happy about losing their land with nothing in return, the local tribes tended to push back against the settlers.

Some tribes, such as the Wyandotte, had made deals with the US Government prior to 1799, thus allowing the development to continue faster.

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Our leaders into the wilderness.

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Once our tour down the trail was over, we visited the camp that was set up where they had a number of demonstrations.

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A band was playing.

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One tent had candle making – a very important item in pioneer life.

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Another musician with a zither.

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The Frontier Festival in Lancaster was far better than expected, with the actors and musicians all passionate about their presentation. It made for an entertaining and educational afternoon.

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Lancaster, OH – August 2018 -Hanging Out in the Vineyard

A few weeks ago we took a tour of the Wyandotte Winery, with their great host/owner Valerie. We had such a good time we made a trip down to Lancaster to tour their vineyard, which they have named Rockside.

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Valerie started us out in their tasting room giving us an overview of what we were to see and do, as well as a couple of tastings. Once outside she gave us great insight into the working of the winery, including an interesting tidbit about how to tell by the seeds if the grapes are ripe.

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While not quite ready for picking, they looked great on the vine and were delicious to eat right off the vine.

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Normally I am too busy taking photos to note the details that a tour guide gives us, but on this day not only was I taking photos, I was carrying my small plate with my wine glass, and tasting the wine – no wonder I have no clue what type of grapes these are – but Valerie knows.

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You can see in her approach to her vineyard just how passionate she is about having a quality product.

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Some of the grapes had meshing over them. Apparently they had a recent ‘attack’ of birds eating all the grapes, and this is how they keep them safe.

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Even with the meshing, the grapes stand out against the green leaves.

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Another row – another tasting 🙂

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These rows had some sort of issue, so rather than let them disease the rest of the vineyard, they were removed and new ones are now growing in their place.

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Lancaster is in a hilly area, and the neighbors barn along with the hillsides make a pleasant surrounding for the vineyard.

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Valerie’s assistant Taylor was on her first day on the job – she did great!

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In one area they are now growing lavender.

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Another view of the farm next door, along with some of the vineyards.

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Bad grapes, bad bad grapes – out with the bad so the good stay good.

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It was interesting the various shapes of the leaves for each type of grape – they were all slightly different.

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From the side the vineyards appear very thick, forming perfect north south rows, which is essential to good grape growing.

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They even have their own mini weather station.

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In one of the row were these massive mushroom – nothing whatsoever to do with grapes, but still very cool.

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We had a great time wander the vineyard, drinking wine and being entertained (again) by Valerie. I highly recommend paying them a visit for either a fun tour, or just a relaxing afternoon on their patio with a glass of wine.

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Cheers!

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Lancaster, OH – July 2018 – The Shapes and Colors of Nature

In looking for something today I thought I saw a listing for a Fern Walk at the Wahkeena Nature Preserve near Lancaster, Ohio.

When we arrived and asked about it we were told that they were having a nature walk/hike but it was not specifically for ferns. Initially disappointed it turned out to be much better.

Nora was the naturalist who lead our tour. She was amazingly knowledgeable in all aspects of what we found on our hike. If you stop to really look you will find some great shapes and colors in the woods.

UPDATES – Tom from the nature preserve was kind enough to provide updates as to what each photo was. The Featured Image above is a Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (an orchid)

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Before we started the actual hike we spent some time near a pond.

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While few, the flowers that were present near the pond were very vivid. The flower is a Swamp Rose Mallow – a wild hibiscus (update from Tom)

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Something that looked like straw grew across some of the other growth in the pond.  The “straw” is Dodder – a parasitic wildflower.

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The water lily (?) stood out against the sea of green. Confirmed by Tom to be a water lily 🙂

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Once we started our educational hike we spent time examining all of sorts of things in the woods – like this decaying tree. The shapes resulting from the decay make for an interesting subject.

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The primary purpose of the walk was to identify orchids. Yes, there are orchids in Ohio – just not like the giant ones you see in places like Hawaii.

Unfortunately I spent more time taking pictures and less time listening to Nora so I missed the name of this one – Sorry Nora.

Thanks to Tom’s update I can state this is a Cranefly orchid.

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Another Downy Rattlesnake Plantain orchid.

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Another orchid? I should really pay better attention.

Tom’s update – Green Adder’s Mouth orchid.

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A different looking caterpillar.

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A type of an apple that grows along the ground – a favorite of turtles. This is known as a Mayapple.

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As we progressed we began to see a number of fungi, more impressive ones than our fungi hike we had a few weeks ago.

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There was a large collection of shapes and colors of fungi.

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Some on the dead trees.

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Some residual Virginia Creeper vines.

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More fungi

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A ghost orchid this is not! Tom has identified this as an Indian Pipe or Ghost Pipe – a saprophytic wildflower.

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We came across this massive fungi, which looked very cool from the side

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As well as the overhead view.

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Some amazing coloring of shelf mushrooms on a tree.

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More growing up a tree.

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More on a bed of moss.

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Some very large shelf fungi.

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A close up.

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We also came across a small ‘Ring Neck’ snake, which Nora was kind enough to pick up and show us.

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Blue fungi.

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After we completed our hike, we went to a second nature preserve just down the road – Rhododendron Cove.

The sandstone cliffs here are amazing.

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How the preserve gets it’s name – rhododendrons everywhere, up against the 50′ cliff.

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The sandstone always has great erosion patterns.

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A hole eroded from the face of the cliff.

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Amazing ‘honeycomb’ erosion.

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Motivated by Nora’s teachings, we paid attention on our walk back to the car – finding even more along the path through a meadow.

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Go find a local park – there are lots of people like Nora anxious to share their knowledge of the world around us all.

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Columbus Area – October 2015 – County Fair, Corvettes & Old Firetrucks

A beautiful, warm sunny mid October Thursday brought an eclectic agenda with the primary event a visit to the Fairfield County Fair. But first a visit to the Central Ohio Fire Museum in downtown Columbus.

The Central Ohio Fire Museum is dedicated to current and past firefighters, as well as a focus on fire prevention. They have an excellent collection of hand-drawn, horse-drawn and motorized fire apparatus set in a restored 1908 Columbus Engine House (No.16) on 4th Street about a block from the Convention Center.

Current and retired firefighters volunteer to assist with the restoration of the equipment, as well as act as docents. The day we were there two gentlemen took the time to walk us around much of the exhibit explaining their history and uses. Of particular interest was the hose tower, for hanging and drying the hoses.

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While the collection of old fire trucks, hose heads, old wood water pipe sections and  were very cool without a doubt the steam pumper “The Monarch” was the most impressive, both visually and in it’s use. A visit to the Central Ohio Fire Museum is strongly recommended, the kid in you will love it.

We continued out of town to the Fairfield County Fair. Held in Lancaster since 1851, the Fair is the last of all county fairs in Ohio, and is billed as Ohio’s oldest continually running fair. Usually the cooler October weather adds to the appeal, and this day was no different, a perfect sunny day with temperatures about 70 degrees, in an excellent setting beneath Mount Pleasant, a 250′ high rock outcropping set in the appropriately named Rising Park, all located across the street from the fairgrounds north end.

There are numerous old buildings throughout the fairgrounds, the highlights being the curved grandstands on a back corner (that unfortunately arsonists burned down in 2016), a round barn, and the ‘newer’ brick grandstands that were built in 1927. After spending a couple of hours checking out the harness racing horses, other various animals, a restored village complete with an antique tractor collection and a small collection of booths we made our way to the grandstands for some harness racing. With the anthem being provided by a band of about 10 guys age 70+ we settled in for a few races, complete with betting booths.

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The Fairfield County Fair is better than most of the other county fairs I have been to, mostly because of location and timing, but is far from the State Fair – which is part of it’s appeal.

Last stop of the day was the Bob McDorman Corvette collection in Canal Winchester. Bob was a Chevy dealer for many years, and had collected Corvette’s, and other cars. Eventually he built a nice building in the middle of the small town that now houses the museum.

The cars are presented in  a straightforward manner, lined up on each side of the building interspersed with some of the neon sign collection, and other artifacts. One room set off by itself was distinctive with it’s checkered flag floor and two 1978 Indy 500 Pace Car Corvettes, along with a recreation of Bob’s office.

The museum is not bad, however compared to others the $10 entry fee was a bit high. If you are into cars it is worth the visit, but you won’t likely spend more than an hour there.

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Columbus – June 2015 – Wheels and Roses

Early June found us at the historic Fairfield County Fairgrounds for a car show. This was a great place to host the show as the walkways were paved, there was lots of shade, and the backdrop of the old barns added to the atmosphere.

The featured cars this year were station wagons. A couple of the participants even had travel trailers that matched the wagons. Other highlights included the Model A club.

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Later that afternoon we came back into town, to the near west side for the Franklinton Bike Races. The afternoon of racing included both men and women’s races.

The setting gave great views of the racing as well as the skyline of Columbus. In addition, the course took them through a couple of railroad underpasses, adding to the various angles of the racing action.

As we returned home we stopped at Whetstone Rose Gardens, as we had heard ‘the roses were out’. Apparently most of the photographers in Columbus had heard this as well, as about 2/3rds of the people there were taking pictures. While at first we had fun taking photos of the roses I quickly got bored and had more fun taking photos of people taking photos of roses.

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The day was a lot of fun, and really showed the diversity of events available in the area, with motor heads, bicycle fanatics and photographers.

Fairfield County, Ohio – April 2015 – Covered Bridge Tour

The first Sunday in April was spent touring covered bridges, and a few other sites in Fairfield County.

The first bridge we found was the Hartman Bridge in the Lockville Canal Park. The bridge is a queenpost truss-style bridge that now spans the prism between Locks 11 and 12, having been moved from its original location over Pleasant Run on Wheeling Road in 1967.

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The park consists of three locks that were once a part of the central section of the Ohio and Erie Canal, a 308-mile highway of water that connected Lake Erie at Cleveland to the Ohio River at Portsmouth.

The locks at the park include Locks 11, 12 and 13 that are open to the public, while locks 14 through 17 remain on private property. These seven locks, situated within the village of Lockville, comprise one of the longest series of intact locks yet remaining in the state.

After this we passed Rock Mill Bridge. Built in 1901, the Rock Mill Covered Bridge stands on its original abutments over a striking gorge just before the falls of the Hocking River. Spanning 37 feet and featuring a queenpost truss, the Rock Mill Bridge was one of the last bridge in Fairfield County to carry vehicular traffic. The bridge’s position next to the 1824-built Rock Mill grist mill makes it one of the more iconic locations in Fairfield County.

As we continued we passed an old family cemetery in the surrounded by a circular stone wall of massive stones. It is called the President’s Half Acre, as the founder of the cemetery deeded the property to the President of the United States forever, in hopes that they would take an interest and would care for it. Needless to say, none has. Supposedly the Ohio Historical Society cared for it for many years, but it was a very non-descript place, with locked gates.

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Further south in the county we passed the Hanaway Bridge, built in 1881. This bridge still spans Clear Creek in its original location, sitting on its original sandstone abutments. The 85-foot long historic bridge is unique among Fairfield County’s remaining covered bridges because it has a canopy on only one side. Since the Hanaway Covered Bridge was constructed on a curve, this single canopy allowed those entering the bridge to watch for traffic approaching from the other direction and safely exit the bridge.

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The nearby Johnson Bridge is the county’s longest covered bridge still resting on its original abutments. At 99 feet long, this historic structure features Howe trusses with two full-length canopies on both sides of the bridge, making the trusses easily visible from the outside.

The last bridge visited in southern Fairfield County was the the Mink Hollow Covered Bridge in Arney Run Park. This bridge rests on its original sandstone abutments over Arney Run, a tributary of Clear Creek. Built in 1887 at a span of 51 feet and features a multiple kingpost truss with a central X-brace and canopies on both sides. The Mink Hollow Covered Bridge actually lies in Oil Mill Hollow, a name that came from a nearby mill that pressed oil from flaxseed. This geographic landmark, as well as the name of Borcher’s Mill, a local grist mill, led to the bridge’s official name, which is the longest name of any covered bridge in the United States: The Mink Hollow Covered Bridge in Oil Mill Hollow Over Arney Run Near Borcher’s Mill.

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Our last stop in the southern part of the county was Cross Mound, Cross Mound Park gets its name from the unique ancient earthwork structure situated in the shape of a plus-sign, or cross, composed of four identical arms each about 12 feet wide, three feet high and 45 feet long. The cross sits at the top of a moderate incline just west of Salt Creek, a tributary of the Scioto River.In addition to the cross-shaped earthwork, the park contains a small stone mound and several smaller mounds, possibly of the Hopewell period.

Cross Mound Park also features the Salt Creek Pedestrian Bridge, a picturesque suspension bridge spanning the creek of the same name. The bridge was constructed in 1936 through the Works Progress Administration

Despite extensive hiking up and down the hills we never really got a clear view of the mounds, although it was obviously where some were.

After some serious wandering through little country roads that felt as though we were driving onto the set of Deliverance, and past a correction facility, we arrived at the the Flight of the Hawk Park, south of Lancaster along US Route 33. Throughout this park are life-size metal sculptures of Ohio’s native wildlife. Among the sculptures are a turkey vulture, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer and the expansive 2,500-pound red-tailed hawk perched on its nest 42 feet above the ground. The hawk features a 14-foot wingspan and is composed of 3,000 torch-cut pieces that were carefully shaped and welded into place

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By this time it was lunchtime, so we went into Lancaster to the Cherry Street Grill. I always remember this place as a small little dive bar, but the current owners have made it into a nice little restaurant and pub.

Lancaster, Ohio – March 2015 – Museum Day

With the cool March day, and spring still not yet blooming, we decided to spend the day at a few local museums that I have been planning on going to.

The Jack Nicklaus Museum is on the West Campus of Ohio State, near Schottenstein Arena. While well done, it doesn’t appear to have been updated since it’s opening years ago. The time we were there nobody else came in.

The museum focuses on his youth in Upper Arlington, his accomplishments, with a nice collection of trophies, courses he designed, a small section on other golf legends, and a section for Ohio State golf. All in all it was ok for it’s $10 admission price, but not one of the better ones.

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The Decorative Arts Center in Lancaster is located in a mid 1800s house, with period pieces on the first floor. The second floor has rotating exhibits, when we were there the display was A Tradition of Progress, Ohio Decorative Arts 1860-1945. The items displayed were made in Ohio during that period, a time when America was going through mechanization.

The display emphasizes items that the emerging middle class would have purchase, sometimes practical, often just for display. The highlight were items from the Arts and Crafts movement, including some wonderful chairs, and pottery from Rookwood, Roseville and Weller.

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The Ohio Glass Museum is located in an old bank on Main Street, in the middle of some small shops, and vacant buildings. They pay tribute to the primary industry of my hometown, glassmaking. Among the displays were a collection of items used in glassmaking, the ‘Treasures of Ohio’ collection of some fine art glass, and a large collection of Degenhart Glass in the lower level

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The best display was filled with TV tubes, medical equipment, tail light fixtures, and other ‘every day’ uses like exit signs, turn signals and streetlight covers that when they were produced in the early 1900s, were down with mouth blown tools.