Features

A rusting old Ferris wheel.

Ghost parks

Theme parks never really die.

Amusement parks in Ohio date as far back as the mid-1800s. In fact, Cedar Point originally opened as a public beach in 1870. Kings Island, while celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer, traces its origins to nearby Coney Island, which also opened originally in 1870.

The Paxton Theatre in Bainbridge is a traditional halfway point for country stars traveling from Nashville to the East Coast — one reason the theater’s Paint Valley Jamboree has been going strong for 55 years.

Country home

A small village in southern Ohio may seem like an unlikely country music hot spot, but Bainbridge, population 3,000, boasts a tradition rivaled only by the country music capital of the world.

Today, the jamboree continues to draw from a reservoir of talent to play alongside its house band, the Original Jam Band.

Still, as musical tastes change, Koehl and his team have a tricky balancing act: trying to preserve the history, traditions, and nostalgia of the jamboree, while also trying to bring in a younger audience.

Bob Hope chats with Indians players during his time as co-owner of the team (photo courtesy of the Cleveland Guardians).

Rise of the Guardians

When the Cleveland Indians changed their name to the Cleveland Guardians last year, the rebrand was more than a tribute to the stalwart, Art Deco-style statues — known as the “Guardians of Traffic” — that grace the Hope Memorial Bridge near Progressive Field.

Born Leslie Townes Hope in a London suburb in 1903, Bob Hope was the fifth of the seven sons of English stonecutter William Henry “Harry” Hope and his wife, Avis. Harry brought his family to Cleveland in 1908, and in the early 1930s, he helped create the “Guardians of Traffic” for the city’s Lorain-Carnegie Bridge. After extensive repairs were completed in 1983, it was rechristened the Hope Memorial Bridge because of Harry’s work on the now-iconic “Guardians.”  

Clifton Mill

Chasing waterfalls

There’s nothing quite like a waterfall, where a stream plunges over a precipice with a roar and a sense of seemingly eternal beauty that’s sought after by generation after generation.

Clifton Mill

75 Water Street, Clifton

Two waterfalls on the Little Miami River have powered Clifton Mill, which sits on the gorge, for more than 220 years. The mill is the largest of the 47 remaining gristmills in the nation. The best view of the mill and falls is from a covered bridge spanning the river. It’s an easy trek and a popular tourist attraction in addition to the restaurant and gift shop housed in the mill (see photo background in the above gallery).

Clifton Gorge 

State Nature Preserve

The home of President Grant in Point Pleasant, Ohio.

Union Saver

Ohio is known for producing more United States presidents than any other state in the Union — eight in all, including several who were veterans of the Civil War. First among the veterans, and perhaps appropriately so, was General Ulysses S. Grant.

Grant descended on his father’s side from a family long-established in America, dating to the Massachusetts Bay Colony circa 1630. His great-grandfather served the British in the French and Indian War, and his grandfather aided the colonists’ cause at the famed American victory at Bunker Hill in the American Revolution. Perhaps, then, it was no surprise that the 5-foot, 2-inch 17-year-old Grant would accept an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1839. 

Libby Greenbaum, Union County’s first female Eagle Scout, renovated the entrance to Marysville’s America Legion Post for her Eagle project.

Scouts who soar

Head to most parks around the state — from small-town playgrounds to urban greenspace to metroparks — and you’ll often see something that’s been added or improved as the result of an Eagle Scout project.

The path to Eagle Scout includes a rigorous set of requirements that must all be completed before the Scout turns 18: positions of troop leadership, a selection of required and optional learning on a wide variety of subjects (merit badges), and, most famously, completion of a project that benefits the community. 

On his wedding day, Jerry Swank wore three replicas of the legendary Colt .45 single-action Army revolver that helped tame the American West.

Rootin’, tootin’ & shootin’

When Jerry Swank married his wife, Carolyn, in 2003, he wore a rancher-style felt hat, boots with spurs, and three replicas of the legendary Colt .45 single-action Army revolver that helped tame the American West. 

Swank and his wife are South Central Power Company members who reside on 81 acres of farmland in the Hocking Hills. His interest in guns began when he was growing up in the Middletown area. He was introduced to shooting sports as a member of the Boy Scouts and while hunting with his father, and learned Western riding because his parents and grandparents kept horses. 

As an adult, he worked in sales, but he also parlayed his knack for riding and training horses into a carriage ride business in downtown Columbus. 

If you meander too far off the trail, you may find yourself on the edge of a drop of hundreds of feet.

High point

High ground is challenging to find in Ohio. Alaskans, with their towering Denali, or even Arkansans, with their Ozarks, probably chuckle at the thought of our “high spots.” 

Each time of year offers something different. Winter is a solitude of quiet and barren beauty. Spring is a time of reawakening and colorful songbirds. Summertime cloaks the hills in emerald beauty and wildflower bouquets. And autumn? Stake out a spot and watch the trees covering the valley alight in flaming oranges, crimson reds, and crisp rusts.

Highlights for Children founder Garry Meyers reads the magazine to his grandchildren.

Fun with a purpose

When Garry and Carolyn Meyers created Highlights for Children in 1946, they did so with the belief that children have an innate ability to think and learn and create and that they should be encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings.

Highlights' 75th Anniversary Edition

Highlights, based in Columbus, recently celebrated its 75th year of “fun with a purpose”— presenting opportunities for parents to “lean in and listen” to encourage curiosity and self-confidence. 

This 1920s postcard showing the Castalia Blue Hole gives a sense of why it drew tourists from all around (photo courtesy of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums — Charles E. Frohman Collection).

Deep blue mysteries

At  one  time, the “blue hole” in Castalia was a big deal. Really big. From the 1920s until it closed in 1990, the quaint tourist destination drew as many as 165,000 visitors each year who traveled to gaze at the geologic curiosity.

Nancy Gurney remembers going to the Blue Hole on the occasional Sunday day trip to Castalia with her family in the 1950s, when she and her sister were young and her parents were farmers in Seneca County.

“It was so nice, all landscaped and beautiful, and it had flowers,” recalls Gurney, who now lives in Lakeside. “And there was this mystery of a deep hole with no bottom they can detect.”

Gurney, later a scientist, admits that, of course, there is a bottom — though to a child and tourist, the bottomless mystery thing was way neater.