Newark, Ohio – May 2015 – Native Mounds and Quarries

For Saturday May 2nd, we headed east of Columbus. Our first stop was in Westerville at Inniswood Metro Gardens. The garden contains more than 2,000 plant species, including collections of conifers, daffodils, daylillies, hostas and theme gardens.

The day started out at Inniswood Gardens in Westerville. The garden contains more than 2000 plant species including collections of conifers, daffodils, daylillies and hostas. There are also themed gardens such as a biblical, herbal, medicinal, rose and woodland rock garden.

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There is also a nice children’s area built to resemble a farm house and surroundings. The gardens were nice but they are located too close to the Outerbelt and any serenity is constantly broken by the hum of 8 lanes of freeway traffic.

Our firsts stop in Newark were the Great Circle Earthworks. This 1,054-foot wide circle is one of the largest circular earthwork in America, at least in construction effort. The 8 feet high walls surround a 5 feet deep moat, except at the entrance where the dimensions are even greater and more impressive.

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Researchers have analyzed the placements, alignments, dimensions, and site-to-site interrelationships of the earthworks. This research has revealed that the Native cultures in the area had advanced scientific understanding as the basis of their complex construction.

Another nearby earthworks was converted into a golf course in the early 1900s, and it remains in that use today. An impressive sight, it gives one a great deal of sadness at the complete disrespect the developers of this country have had for the Native cultures that were found here.

East of Newark we visited the Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve, a 4-mile-long sandstone formation through which the Licking River flows

Over the years canal boats, railroads, interurbans and eventually automobiles travelled through the gorge. It is named for the black hand petroglyph that was found on the cliff face by the first settlers to the area.

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The hiking trail that traverses the gorge is a result of a rails to trails effort, and it an excellent way to enjoy the gorge. Well paved, it provides viewpoints with signs that explain the highlights. Overall this park is a nice place for a short hike.

Continuing south we stopped at Flint Ridge State Memorial, a Native America flint quarry located in southeastern Licking County. Old quarry pits are visible, and a museum is on the site. The museum has a pit in the middle of it.

Flint Ridge contains quarry pits where all of the ancient people of Ohio came to get flint for both tools and weapons.

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Just south of Flint Ridge you can pick up the National Road, which we did, and enjoy the slower route. Just east of Jacktown there is an interesting monument to the National Road called Eagles Nest, a large rock with a carving of an old car, conestoga wagon and other transportation related items.

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Once we arrived in Jacktown we had lunch at a small crossroad restaurant/bar called appropriately The Crossroads. It was interesting crowd of good old boys watching golf!

The Dawes Arboretum is a non-profit arboretum a few miles south of Newark. As one of the premier public gardens in North America, The Dawes Arboretum has over 1,800 acres of plant collections, gardens and natural areas. Eight miles of hiking trails and a four-mile auto tour allow guests to explore the arboretum’s natural beauty.

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Among the features; The Japanese Garden features a meditation house, pond and rock garden; an outlook tower located on the south side of The Arboretum allows visitors to view of The Arboretum’s hedge letters; a bonsai collection is located in the courtyard adjacent to the Visitors Center;

The Arboretum features plants tolerant of central Ohio’s climate representing 5,701 individual plant names. Overall this arboretum is nice, but not nearly as well landscaped and appealing as the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio.

Springfield, Ohio – March 2015 – Roadside America Attractions of Springfield

Sunday the 22nd turned out to be another sunny day, so we set off out the National Road west of Columbus, destination Springfield.

Rather than go out I-70 again, I chose to take US Route 40, the Old National Road, getting on where it intersects with I-270 on the west side of Columbus. The first 10 miles of this road go through tacky looking 1980s suburbs before you finally reach countryside.

Our first stop was in the village of Lafayette, where there is an inn called the Red Brick Tavern. Built in the early 1800s, it has been an inn on the National Road every since. They claim 6 presidents have visited. As usual I picked somewhere that was closed, so we couldn’t go inside, and despite trying a couple of times since then, still haven’t managed to be there when it was open.

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The inn did have one of the original National Road Mile Markers in the front yard though, and just being able to explore the outside of the building made the stop worthwhile.

We continued west on the National Road until we reached Springfield, our primary destination for the day. On the near west side of Springfield, in a run down neighborhood is the Pennsylvania House, which was…closed.

The Pennsylvania House is a historic inn and tavern built in 1822. This three-story brick Federal style building is situated on the original National Road. Over the years many famous guests were hosted, including Henry Clay, Charles Dickens, Andrews Jackson and James K Polk.

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George Rogers Clark was a revolutionary war leader from Kentucky who lead a number of battles against the British. During these battles he fought British and Native Americans.

One of these battles occurred at a Shawnee village called Peckuwe, located just west of what is now Springfield. The battlefield, and a restored Native village is located in the George Rogers Clark Park.

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The village has a number of teepees and other buildings that look nearly authentic, except the cable ties holding the bracing together.

After a fast food lunch we went to Southwest Springfield to the Hartman’s Rock Garden. In 1932, and an unemployed Springfield man, Ben Hartman, decided to create a do-it-yourself WPA project. The results of his labor still stand, open to the public to visit and photograph.

He scavenged stone from a nearby construction site, broke it with his hammer, added bits of mirror and pottery — and began building little stone houses, cathedrals, and parapets with religious statuary in the side and back yards of his wood-frame home. He kept building for seven years. He had the corner lot, so his work was easy to see.

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Ben built a replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, a White House, a Mount Vernon, a large castle with a drawbridge and moat is composed of 14,000 stones; a “Tree of Life” that has over 20,000. Although Ben died in 1944, the Hartman family has maintained the property ever since.

This was one of the best Roadside America attractions we have seen. We highly recommend a stop to see Ben’s backyard!

Flagstaff, AZ – June 2005 – Wupatki Ruins

Wupatki National Monument is a collection of Native ruins located very close to Sunset Crater, just north of Flagstaff. There are a number of buildings on the site, which is situated in the middle of the desert.

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Estimated to have been built around 500 AD, Wupatki translates to Tall House in Hopi. The building had over 100 rooms.

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The walls were built out of Moenkopu sandstone blocks, which give the pueblo it’s red color. Amazingly many of the original walls are still standing.

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Prescott, AZ – June 2005 – Montezuma’s Castle

The Montezuma Castle National Monument is a group of Puebloan cliff dwellings situation in the side of a hill near Camp Verde, Arizona. They were built by the Sinagua people, a pre Columbian culture.

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Believed to have been built between 1100 and 1425, the structure is five floors high, with over twenty rooms. Despite the name the complex was neither used by Montezuma nor is it a castle.

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Locally several native groups including Hopi and Yavapai have ancestral homes in the area, and still use the area for religious ceremonies.

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Beaver Creek runs through the park.

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