Ohio history

Success was not only converted to a “convict ship,” complete with all her ghastly accoutrements, but was also the “oldest and most historic ship afloat.” 

Nothing succeeds like Success

There has likely never been a more ironic name for a prison ship than Success.

A group of promoters purchased the ship, planning to sail her around the world for the public to board and tour — for a price, of course. But before her debut, they believed Success needed a bit of refurbishing. 

They brought aboard some unusual equipment: handcuffs, leg irons, branding irons, metal straightjackets, a triangle-shaped whipping post, even a medieval torture device known as an iron maiden. 

And they painted on the sides of the hull, in large black letters, the words “Convict Ship.” 

Pee Pee Creek?

An Ohio map reads like an autobiography.

Four Mile Creek, for example, rises in the uplands along the Indiana-Ohio state line, picking up the waters of small rills and runs and seeps. It bumps into glacial moraines and purls through pastoral farmsteads on its downhill destiny with the Great Miami River — by which time it has become a substantial stream. Its placid form and lyrical name belie the fact it was born from warfare. 

Among the list of Harry Birt's Store favorites are the maple peanut clusters.

Sweet tooth

A faded sign inside this Darke County institution proudly proclaims the store motto: “A balanced diet is chocolate in both hands.” Sweetness certainly comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors at Birt’s Store in the village of New Weston.

Birt’s grandfather, Harry Birt Sr., unwittingly started a family tradition in the 1920s when he added five cases of white peppermint lozenges, orange slices, and chocolate drops to his general store shelves. The candy arrived via caboose at a nearby train depot, but it was evident that crew members had sampled plenty along the way.

Malabar Farm hosts free, two-hour Haunted Hikes at dusk that take visitors along the lanes by the park’s restaurant, the Big House, the cemetery, and the Ceely Rose House (Photo courtesy of Malabar Farm).

Things that go bump in the night!

Just over a rise in scenic Richland County, Malabar Farm appears in the distance — a stately, historic (and sprawling) main house, rolling hills and fields, and an inviting white barn with horses grazing nearby.

The rural setting conjures up plenty of other eerie lore, cemented in long-dead legends and myths. As a matter of fact, Malabar Farm — now an Ohio state park — has been called one of the 10 most haunted places in America. That’s why park naturalists are resurrecting the popular Haunted Hikes this month: creepy, outdoor explorations of ghostly tales and whispered legends shared on three autumn Sundays. 

Owners Mike and Sharlene Montgomery stay in character while manning the saloon.

Back in time

Mosey down a dirt street, browse through old-time shops, watch a Wild West shootout, or belly up to the saloon bar for a cold sarsaparilla. You can do it all at Dogwood Pass near Beaver in rural Pike County.   

The saloon came first in 2010, and today more than 30 buildings occupy a 2-acre tract at the Montgomery farm. There’s a general store, a jail, a bank, a photography studio complete with vintage costumes, an undertaker, a shooting gallery, a blacksmith shop, a combination church/school, Boot Hill cemetery, and the Montgomery Mining Company, where young and old alike can mine for gems on certain days.

The stadium is affectionately nicknamed “the ’Shoe” for its original horseshoe-shaped outline.

The 'Shoe at 100

These days, as we watch more than 100,000 fans pack Ohio Stadium for Buckeyes football, weekend after weekend each fall, it’s impossible to imagine Ohio State University without it.

“We think, in 2022, that this stadium was inevitable — that it was inevitable it was going to be a double-decker and that it was going to be built for more than 60,000 people [its original capacity]. And of course, we inevitably enclose it because we knew we would fill it up so much, right?” Chute says. “Those assumptions are just not true.”

Charles F. Kettering working on his revolutionary electric car starter.

Small-town genius

When automobiles were first being developed more than a century ago, they were as dangerous to start as they were to drive. You didn’t just turn a key in the ignition or press a button on the dashboard as we do today.

Born in Loudonville, Ohio, in 1876, Charles Kettering was the fourth of five children in his family. Poor eyesight caused him headaches in grade school, but he persevered to attend the College of Wooster before transferring to Ohio State University in Columbus.  However, continuing eye problems eventually forced him to withdraw, and he took a job at the Star Telephone Company in Loudonville as foreman of a line crew.  

Young's Jersey Dairy

Cold and creamy

It's no surprise that Ohio ranks in the top 10 of ice cream-producing states. Its rural heritage provides a steady supply of the main ingredient — and several families through history began traditions that remain in place today.

Velvet Ice Cream

Utica, 1914

Immigrant Joseph Dager arrived in Ohio in 1903 and began making ice cream in Utica in 1914. Within two years, he was producing 200 gallons of ice cream every month, and the creamy, velvety texture inspired the name Velvet Ice Cream.

In 1960, an old grist mill became the company’s permanent home. Ye Olde Mill houses a turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor that opened in 1970 and welcomes 150,000 guests each year.

As a girl, Annie Oakley was a market hunter before she became a sharpshooter.

Little Sure Shot

The greatest exhibition shooter of all time — male or female — was a young woman from Darke County, Ohio: Annie Oakley (1860–1926).

“The museum has the largest display of Annie Oakley photographs, firearms, and memorabilia anywhere in the world,” says Katie Gabbard, marketing director at the Garst. “An entire wing is dedicated to her, chronicling Annie’s many shooting accomplishments as well as her lesser-known philanthropic endeavors.”

In fact, very few of Annie’s medals and awards survive today, as she had most of them melted down near the end of her life so she could raise money for charity.  

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.