Highway 271 Cleveland, Akron and Canton Millersburg Amish country Berlin Guggisberg Cheese House Columbus Gantz Farm - the German Village Archbold Sauder Industries - Sauder Village Newark Dawes Arboretum Other pages other states | articles
This is an extract of what to see in this state, with small photos. You will find the full description, history and full-sized photos, in my e-book View America: North East - Part 2
In the travel series View America, North East - Part 2 covers Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. It is not a traditional travelogue, but a non-commercial and more or less objective chronicle of an in-depth exploration of these states. Each state is described with its own brief historical background and its main sights, tourist attractions and points of interest.
My book does not describe lodgings, restaurants or entertainment, except where these may interact with the narrative. It is illustrated with more than 90 full-sized photos.
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OHIO is also known as the Buckeye State, after the buckeye trees that once graced the landscape, and Mother of Modern Presidents, because no less than six presidents were born in Ohio! The name Ohio comes from an Iroquois word, meaning great or beautiful river.
In 1803 Ohio joined the U.S. as the 17th state. The capital and largest city is Columbus, but the largest metropolis is Cleveland. The state's surface is approximately 116,000 km2, and it is forested for 30%. Originally it was almost completely forested, but more than 95% was cleared to make way for farming. The population is approximately 11 million inhabitants, with a population density of 107 per km2.
Ohio is primarily an agricultural state, due to its natural resources. The state is the largest egg producer in the U.S., and third in industrial production, after California and Texas. It is also one of the largest producers of rubber (tires around Akron), and plastic.
Ohio has many interesting attractions. Lake Erie is the most famous and largest lake, and it has the largest Amish Community in the US. There are three major theme parks in the state. Six Flags in Aurora, Cedar Point, with the highest and fastest Roller Coaster in the world, almost 90 mph (150 kph), and Kings Island Paramount in Cincinnati, with 13 Roller Coasters, including the longest Roller Coaster in the world!
There are also many scenic railroads, scenic drives, Arboretums and flower parks, the German Village, traditional Flea Markets, historic sites, and of course the inevitable shopping and antiques.
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THINGS TO SEE
Through Cambridge and Dover, highway 39 brings you into Amish country. The drive successively leads through Sugar Creek, Walnut Creek and Berlin, and finally into Millersburg. The landscape is extremely beautiful, and small hills alternate with wooded areas, green meadows, and fields. Definitely a Scenic Drive!
The villages along the road are quite blatant in their publicity, and nearly everything is marketed as being truly Amish. They are very touristic and busy, but unfortunately the advertizing is not always refined or picturesque.
Along the road Amish farms can be admired, that can easily be spotted by the well-known Amish Buggies standing in the driveway. Next to Amish farms, there are of course many "ordinary" farms, but it would seem that most of these certainly could use a lick of paint...
A particular attraction is the Guggisberg Cheese House. Generations ago, both Swiss and Amish settled down in this area. The Amish had many cows and a lot of milk, and the Swiss were used to making cheese. So both ended up making a profitable deal. The Cheese House produces a fairly large assortment of cheese, and they also carry several imported cheeses.
More sightseeing can be done over the small and local country roads, presenting appealing surroundings. But unfortunately a good part of the farms seems less than well-maintained, and the overall view does not compare very well with that of the Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Indiana.
We did see many Brabant draft horses, that are highly prized by the Amish!
Columbus proudly touts the Gardens of the Gantz Farm and the German Village as its main touristic attractions. Unfortunately, neither of them could easily be located, nor were they well indicated.
The Gardens at Gantz Farm in Grove City is a landscaped herb garden, located on the property of the 100-acre Gantz Farm, that was developed in 1832. The 27-acre herb garden is organized according to the use of the herbs for different purposes. The Gardens at Gantz Farm is located in Gantz Park, in the heart of Grove City.
The German Village is located just south of downtown Columbus, and this historic neighborhood was settled in the early 1800's by a massive German immigration. As a matter of fact, by 1865 Germans made up one third of Columbus' entire population!
Archbold was founded in 1834 in the middle of the Black Swamp. It is very prosperous through the presence of several large industrial concerns.
Sauder Industries is located in Archbold. Erie Sauder (1904-1997) was a Mennonite, who developed his humble woodworking shop into the world's largest empire of Ready-to-Assemble Furniture (RTA). The company has a turnover of four billion dollars, exports to more than seventy countries, and employs more than four thousand people! Erie Sauder is known as the Father of furniture packages, and throughout his whole life he continued to be a simple and amiable man, despite his enormous fortune.
After he retired, he built the foundation Sauder Village, to show the younger generations the former way of life and ancient crafts. It all started when the group got to be so large, that they needed their own restaurant for personnel, representatives and customers. The Barn, the popular restaurant in the complex, presents an extensive buffet. The food is excellent and more than reasonably priced. A hotel was the next logical step, adequately equipped with large conference rooms. Erie and his wife spent their remaining years in this hotel.
At the time of our visit they had just purchased a mini-train, and so a visit to Sauder Village started with a train ride. The track was somewhat short and the guide's explanations were almost unintelligible because the speakers failed, but they were still working to solve those problems...
Sauder Village offers a great diversity in ancient crafts. More than forty buildings present glass working, tin working, Erie Sauder's first workshop, a barber shop, and a woodworking workshop. There is also a herbal shop, a church, a school, a train depot with a telegraph, a printing press, a prison, an old 1910 farm, basket weaving, a Quilt shop, an ice cream parlor, an old water-driven grain mill, a museum, and even an Indian village!
Many old houses were brought in from other locations. In every house there is a craftsman at work, dressed in contemporary clothing and eager to provide extensive explanations. An exhaustive visit will take at least an entire day, but it is certainly worth it!
The Dawes Arboretum lies on highway 13 south. In the early 1920's the Dawes family, who were active in the wood industry, built a magnificent estate of 1,600 acres (640 hectares). They were both nature lovers and they laid out a so-called English garden, in which they planted all the trees they could find.
The Arboretum has over 1,800 acres (7 km2) of plant collections, gardens and natural areas. Eight miles (13 km) of hiking trails and a four-mile (6 km) auto tour allow visitors to explore its natural beauty.
The Dawson manor certainly looks impressive, although its location may not be optimal. The Japanese garden is admirable, and at the highest point in the domain a tower offers a magnificent view over the entire estate. It overlooks the pond and the enormous lawn, in which the name of the estate is proudly planted in hedges. The tree collection includes conifers and the famous crab apple trees, and even a small swamp. Making a summary is somewhat difficult, as different tree species have been planted rather haphazardly all over the place.
The entire park is excellently maintained and well cared for, and the only possible criticism could be that no landscaping architect was involved in the general concept, the implantation and the design of the estate.