Troy, OH – August 2016 – Waco Fly In

Our first Saturday back in Ohio found us back in Troy, Ohio at the Waco Airplane grounds again. This time it was for the annual Waco Fly In, a day that many owners of the Waco planes come to town to display their aircraft, as well as bond with the other aficionados of vintage airplanes.

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The weather forecast was predicting rain later in the day so we got an early start, arriving in Troy around 9:30 to find a field with  8 bi wing planes. You were welcome to wander the field and check them out closer, which we did.

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A few took off with passengers as a charity fundraiser, giving me further photo ops.

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The hanger had a static display with some interesting objects and a few toys. After an hour or so we had seen it all so we moved on.

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Nearby Piqua was scheduled to have a motorcycle show, and when we got there just before noon there were a few parked around, along with some booths set up down Main Street. We went into a little restaurant someone on the street recommended, the Lighthouse, which was typical small town heart attack fare, anything you like as long as it was fried, but the help was prompt and friendly.

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The rain kept most away, but a few custom bikes were on display and had an interesting look all wet. After a brief time we gave up and called it a day.

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Western Ohio – August 2016 – Vintage Trucks, Vintage Airplanes, Vintage Houses and Fishing in an Ohio Corn Field

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We made another trip to Troy, Ohio, this time for the 27th Annual International Harvester Vintage Truck Show. When you think antique vehicles IH is not the first brand to come to mind, but everything has a following. A plus was it was being held on the grounds of Waco Airplanes, which we had visited previously.

Once we arrived they directed us to park in a field directly beside a small metal hanger that had a bi-plane parked inside, along with another small plane whose wings were folded up. After checking these out for a few minutes, we moved into the grounds to view the trucks.

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In my opinion most of the IH trucks over the years were boxy and boring, except for the very early years. This show had a nice representation of the ones from the 1930s and 1940s, along with a slew of them from the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the newer ones have been customized, with their owners rightfully proud of the hard work they had put in.

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One family we met had come over from Weirton, West Virginia, which you could tell was near Pittsburgh by the attire of nearly everyone in the family (Steelers garb). We did all we could there in 90 minutes, so it was time to move on.

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Starting back east we made our way to Urbana, the county seat of Champaign County, where the Champaign Aviation Museum is located. This small, relatively new museum is located in a hanger at the county airport. Their pride and joy is a B17 (The Champaign Lady) that they have been restoring for more than a decade, with another 10 years expected before they complete their work. In addition there is an A26 outside, a C47 on static display inside, and a B25, but that was out on a flight the day we were there.

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The best part of this visit was they allowed you to wander through their shop area, taking time to explain what the approach to the restoration was. Of interest to me were a number of the specialty tools they were using to put spacers in the drill holes they were to later going to rivet together.

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A couple of miles up the road from the airport is the Freshwater Farms of Ohio, the state’s largest indoor fish hatchery.  You can pet a sturgeon, but some smoked salmon, and check out the various ponds they have with koi and other decorative fish. It seems out of place in the middle of an Ohio cornfield, but was fun to check out.

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Finally we stopped at Mac o Chee castle, a tourist attraction since I was a little kid. I remembered it being an impressive place, but now it is a sad old rundown building that is a shell of it’s former self. I am certain it takes a lot of money for upkeep, and they clearly aren’t bringing in enough. This resulted in our of our most disappointing stops in all of our travels the last couple of years.

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Troy, OH Area – October 2015 – Airplanes and Airstreams

With a few 2015 vacation days left I opted to take a Thursday off and head back out to western Ohio for a couple of unique stops. First on the agenda the Waco (pronounced like taco) Aircraft Museum in Troy, Ohio. Waco produced planes between 1919 and 1947, starting as the Weaver Aircraft Company, hence Waco. Once they began they became known as manufacturers of reliable, rugged airplanes popular with postal services, explorers and others.

Their first closed cabin models began in the 1930s, before that they were all open cockpit bi-planes. During the second world war they made a number of gliders, as well as some trainers. The museum celebrates all of the above with a nice collection of artifacts and complete airplanes situated along side a grass runway.

The initial building contains models, small artifacts, a library and a couple of planes. The second building contains some beautifully restored wooden airplanes, as well as a aviation fuel truck from the ‘teens’.

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On the way to our final stop of the day we passed through a small town called Lockington. It is named so after a series of locks that were built between 1833-1845 on the Miami and Erie Canal, consisting of seven locks along with a turn around basin, unique for the time. The locks stretch for almost 4 miles.

There are three in the Ohio Historical Site in the town.

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Our final stop for the day was the Airstream Factory in Jackson Center, Ohio. Airstream has been building RV trailers here since the 1950s after starting out in California in the 1920s. After hanging out in the service counter lounge for about 30 minutes our tour of about 12 people took off, lead by two retired workers who had worked for Airstream for 40+ years.

We happened to be there on a day there was no production, which was disappointing in some ways but worked out in others as we could go into each work space and inspect the process closely, just not live. Unfortunately they are fairly restrictive on photographs as well, but did permit any you liked outside, and a few locations inside.

They walked us through the entire manufacturing process, showing us the rolls of the famous silver aluminum, the framing process, quality control and finally the interior fit out. Across the street is another factory that they build out the motorhomes based on a Mercedes Benz van chassis. All in all it was very interesting, free, and a good way to spend a couple of hours. I look forward to going back some day when production is running.




Western Ohio -March 2015 – Amazing Find in Small Town Ohio

Looking at a map I realized I had been in all but 8 Ohio counties, 7 of which were contiguous throughout western Ohio, so I mapped out a day trip to go through those counties, and see some sights along the way, mapped mostly with Roadside America attractions.

First stop – Urbana, Champaign County – Just to the east of Urbana was a berry farm that was supposed to have a rock sculpture of Iwo Jima. It was in reality just a pile of rocks – bust. Next stop was the airport that has a museum, and they did have a nice old airplane out front. On the way through town we passed an old house that had a slate Ohio State roof, as well as a coffee shop called the Teabaggers!

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Just west of town in the appropriately named Westville in a historical marker for Harvey Haddix, who once pitched a 12 inning perfect game for the Pittsburgh Pirates only to lose in the 13th (and which elicited a letter from a fraternity in Wisconsin that said ‘Dear Harvey – tough shit’)

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Second Stop – Troy, Miami County – A local family, the Hobart Brothers, made a fortune, mid-20th century, their welding products company, and have shared with the community by funding many buildings and art projects, including an arena and participatory sound piece for its welded metal sculpture park called the Sound Chamber

The structure, a “hybrid of cultures,” is related visually to pagodas and conceptually to ceremonial drum huts of the Mandailing people of North Sumatra. Visitors to Sound Chamber animate drum gongs and kalimbas with their hands; they use mallets and sticks to draw music from tone rods, musical rasps and mbira, flat steel strips clamped to a resonating surface.

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Third Stop – Greenville, Darke County – Greenville is the hometown of Annie Oakley, and there is a statue as a tribute to her in a small park at the south end of downtown. Her burial spot is a few miles north of town.

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A mural on the wall of a nearby building honors Zachary Lansdowne, the Commander of the Airship Shenandoah, a bit of a dubious distinction as it crashed when it got caught in a storm’s updraft pushing it too high and causing it to explode.

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Today Greenville is most known as the home of Kitchenaid Appliances. On the main street of town there is a company store that sells their products, gives demonstrations and has a small museum in the basement. We brought home a mixer, which has paid dividends since in the form of cookies and breads.

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At the north end of Greenville is a small restaurant with a drive through that has become a ‘gum wall’, with thousands of people sticking their used chewing gum on it.

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Fourth Stop – New Bremen, Auglaize County. New Bremen is the home of Crown Equipment Corporation, makers of fork lifts. The owners of this company are big bicycle fans and a few years ago were able to purchase the Schwinn Bicycle Museum in Chicago and move it’s contents to this small Ohio town, where they have added their own. The result is a World Class museum of bicycles.

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As we drove up and parked we noticed a car with Kentucky plates parked out front with 2 high wheeled bicycles on the back, just a precursor of views to come.

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The museum has over 300 bicycles including the oldest bike in America, the Draissine built in 1816, and another from 1819, the Hobby Horse. The entire first floor had bicycles from the 1800s and very early 1900s, as well as advertising posters, display cases with small items, including a collection of 1910 wrenches, and a High Wheel bike with steps up to it you can sit on for a photo opportunity.


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As you make your way to the second floor you pass a collection of contemporary, ultra light weight mountain bikes and racing bikes. The mezzanine level has bicycles used for military purposes, complete with machine guns mounted to them. Another display on this level includes motorized bicycles, mostly Whizzers.


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The top level dedicated to bicycle making in Ohio, along with many of the Schwinn items. There was the obvious tribute to the Wright Brothers, along with Roadmaster. The Schwinn portion had numerous items, including original shipping crates.

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The Bicycle Museum of America is easily one of the top museums not only in Ohio, but throughout America.



Fifth Stop – Delphos, Allen and Van Wert Counties. We had stopped in Delphos to see the Postal Museum, but it had been closed as the owner had been called back to his home in Dublin on some sort of emergency. Fortunately, the local man we met on the street that gave us this level of detail was able to recommend a nearby café for lunch.

Baked to Perfection is primarily a bakery but they do sandwiches as well. As we enjoyed our sandwiches you could smell the baking, and we watched the owner decorate a wedding cake. The Postal Museum was a bust but lunch made up for it.



Sixth Stop – Defiance – Defiance County. Defiance is the home of Fort Defiance, used during the ‘Indian Wars’ of the early 1800s. It sits as the confluence of the Auglaize and Auglaize Rivers, which when we were there were in flood conditions.

The park that is situated where the fort was offered a bit of history on the place on plaques, but overall it wasn’t noteworthy.

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Seventh Stop – Gilboa, Putnam County. This stop was a very brief stop to pose next to a giant bull near some silos.

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Eighth Stop – Kenton, Hardin County. In the 1930s the Kenton Hardware Company, came upon hard times. The toy manufacturer was the only industry in Kenton, Ohio. In 1936, the company received a contract to produce Gene Autry repeating cap guns. The Gene Autry cap gun became the most wanted toy in America! Besides bringing back all their workers, they had to hire considerably more as shifts were added to meet the huge demand.

Autry’s visit to Kenton on August 8, 1938 remains a high spot in local history, and as a tribute they painted a giant mural on a downtown building. Tells you how exciting Kenton is.

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And thus ended our western Ohio day trip, leaving only 1 Ohio county to visit.