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In the Heartland: An Ohio Road Trip by RV, Part II

In this second of a two-part series, husband-and-wife travel writing team Harry Basch and Shirley Slater cover an extensive route through northern Ohio and point out the statewide highlights you shouldn't miss, inclusing Amish country.

In this second half, Harry and Shirley drive you through Northern Ohio and the world's largest Amish community. To see part I, click here.

From Zanesville, you can follow route 60 north to Dresden and the Longaberger Basket Factory, then continue on route 16 east to Coshocton and historic Roscoe Village, a restored living history village restored to the 1850s along the Ohio & Erie Canal. Craftsmen demonstrate weaving, pottery-making and broom-making in shops along the main street, while a horse-drawn canal boat takes visitors along a restored section of the historic canal. Seasonal celebrations from May's Dulcimer Days to October's Apple Butter Stirrin' Festival punctuate the village's traditional year. Information: tel. 800/877-1830,

North another 25 miles via US 83 is the center of Ohio's Amish country, Holmes County, Wayne County, Stark County and Tuscawaras County. The most rewarding way to see it is to take a meandering drive around the area following one of the free handout tourist maps with shops and restaurants highlighted.


Millersburg will be the first town you'll hit coming north from Coschocton. Follow US 62 east to the junction with state road 557, then turn south to Charm, a town as pretty as its name. Continuing southeast on 557, you'll come to Guggisberg Cheese Company, selling 40 different types of cheese including its own famous Baby Swiss from a big, modern Swiss farmhouse. It's open daily except Sundays in winter. tel. 800/262-2505, If it's mealtime and you want to sample local cooking, cross the road to the Chalet in the Valley, operated by the same ownership as the cheese factory.

North of Berlin is Mt. Hope on route 77, a colorful back road lined with Amish farms and horse-drawn buggies going to and from town. The shop most are headed for is Lehman's Hardware, a treasure trove of non-electrical appliances from hand-cranked wringer washing machines to wood-burning cookstoves, all of them brand-new. Butter churns, stone crockery, carpenter's adzes, solid oak furniture, handmade quilts, washboards and apple peelers are a small part of the merchandise inside. The main branch of Lehman's is a few miles north in Kidron. Catalogues: tel. 330/857-5757, online

We also liked the Basket Factory Outlet in Strasberg, near the junction of US 21 and US 212; follow the signs. Here in a modest-sized barn are hundreds of baskets of all sorts from all over the world at bargain prices. Closed Sundays. tel. 800/327-7016.


Just north of Walnut Creek on route 515 at US 62 is the town of Winesburg, Ohio, which gave its name to a book of short stories by Sherwood Anderson. The real Winesburg, however, was probably the town of Clyde, 20 miles southwest of Sandusky, where Anderson grew up. The stamp of the land is firmly affixed on many writers who both loved and hated their hometowns. In Anderson's case it was reciprocal; the 1919 book and the writer himself were roundly ignored by Clyde until only a decade or so ago, when the local library added a collection of his works. The library, 222 West Buckeye Street, is where you can pick up a map that points out sites described in the book. The rest of the town still ignores him.

Seven miles east of Clyde, the industrial town of Bellevue was the place where the real-life man depicted as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs held his victims hostage.

Wilmot, five miles northeast of Winesburg on US 62, is home of the world's largest cuckoo clock. How big is it? The answer is 23 feet 6 inches by 24 feet by 13 feet 6 inches. It's a small part of a big tourist attraction called Alpine Alpa, and when it strikes, a wooden band plays and wooden dancers with braids twirl around. To see it, put a quarter into a turnstile at the side of the restaurant and walk up the stairs to the roof, where the clock is displayed beside a gnome garden with Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs in residence, along with many other small painted plaster people.


Downstairs in the supremely kitschy restaurant (where taking photos is forbidden, as if anyone would want to copy any of the grottos and Alpine murals) daily specials are churned out for the Amish Country bus tours, a nice grocery department sells all sorts of German comestibles and a gift shop is fully stocked with cuckoo clocks and musical beer steins. It's open daily year-round except major holidays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. tel. 330/359-5454,

While the commercial attractions of the Ohio Amish country are reminiscent of the even-more ballyhooed Pennsylvania Dutch country, you can still enjoy driving the back roads past Amish farms. One respite is the Ohio Historical Site of Zoar, a communal town founded in 1817 by German separatists. The community continued until 1898, when the Zoar Society disbanded. Additional information can be found online at

We drove in with our motorhome very early on a sunny summer Monday morning when no one was in the streets and simply walked all over town taking photographs in the clear morning light. Eleven of the buildings would be staffed with costumed interpreters the other six days of the week, and admissions and tour rates in effect, but we enjoyed it more having it all to ourselves. Zoar is on state road 212 three miles southeast of exit 93 from I-77 south of Canton. Open daily except Mondays. Information: Ohio Historical Society, tel. 330/874-3011,


One of the eight Ohio-born presidents was William McKinley, who was assassinated in 1901, early in his second term, by anarchist Leon F. Czolgosz. Next door to McKinley's tomb, which sits atop 108 steps, is the McKinley Museum, with animated figures of the late president and his wife who "chat" with visitors about life in Canton and in the White House. It's at 800 McKinley Monument Drive N.W. tel. 330/455-7043,

North Canton is home of William Henry Hoover, founder of the vacuum cleaner company of the same name and the first manufacturer to produce the cleaners in volume. A museum in the Hoover Historical Center at 2225 Easton Street shows early-day vacuums, including a 100-pound 1905 Skinner "portable." The oldest is the 1869 Whirlwind Cleaner, the first Hoover model ever offered for sale. Tel. 330/499-0287,

Somehow the lyricists of Tin Pan Alley never cranked out "When the buzzards come back to Hinckley, Ohio," to commemorate the Capistrano-like return of some 75 giant winged turkey vultures to town every March 15 for more than 150 years. The birds light in trees by the cliffs and caverns of Whipp's Ledge, and the townspeople celebrate with a "buzzard breakfast" the first Sunday after March 15. Hinckley is three miles east of I-71 exit 226 on route 303.


Cleveland's Rock 'n Roll Museum is one of our very favorite places, especially because they have a discounted senior rate (reminding us that many fans of early rock are members in good standing of AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons.)

The most important exhibits are underground below the base of the I.M. Pei glass pyramid in the Ahmet M. Ertegun Exhibition Hall, a large darkish area in which a number of people were wandering around in all directions or standing thunderstruck in front of a single exhibit.

We were drawn first toward an exhibit called "One Hit Wonders," which included the song "Angel Baby" by Rosie and the Originals. On life-sized mannequins are John Lennon's collarless Beatles jacket, Alice Cooper's bondage outfit and David Bowie's exaggerated 1970s fashions, as well as Michael Jackson's sequined glove, Lead Belly's 12-string guitar, Jim Morrison's Cub Scout uniform, Janis Joplin's psychedelically painted Porsche -- you get the idea. Plan to spend the day.


The big challenge for RVers is finding a place to park in the vicinity, since the covered garage has a height limit. The best bet is to turn right at the intersection facing the museum and look for a spot at the small Burke-Lakefront municipal airport parking lot a block down the road. The museum is on the lakefront just off I-90; follow the signs. It's open year-round 10am-5pm daily except Mondays, with extended hours on Wednesdays until 9pm. tel. 888/764-ROCK.

Mansfield, 65 miles west of Canton, is Ohio's carousel capital, with Richland Carrousel (sic) Park proudly showing off a locally-manufactured carousel with hand-carved wooden figures in the Dentzell style. The carousel is open daily except Mondays (and open on Mondays when they are also holidays) at the corner of West Fourth and North Main Streets. The Carrousel (sic) Factory is on West Fourth Street just a block away from the park and is open for public tours during weekday business hours.

If you like darker attractions, you might enjoy the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, which offers a Haunted Prison Tour to small groups shackled together for the experience. The site was a film location for The Shawshank Redemption and Air Force One. The tours are usually offered around Halloween in the evenings by advance reservation only.


South of Mansfield on Pleasant Valley Road, off I-71 at exit 169, you can follow state road 13 to Malabar Farm State Park, the former home and farm of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield. This is where Bromfield's good friends Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall got married on May 21, 1945, and spent their honeymoon. The main house contains many mementos of the occasion.

Get the details from Mansfield/Richland County Convention & Visitors Bureau, tel. 800/642-8282,

In Marion, 40 miles west of Mansfield, you'll find the Wyandot Popcorn Museum. According to the U.S. Popcorn Board, the average American eats about 68 quarts of popcorn a year, most of it consumed while watching movies or TV. The oldest ears of popcorn ever found were 5,600 years old and were discovered in a bat cave in New Mexico in 1948. Columbus and his crew were offered popcorn as a trade good when they first arrived in the West Indies.


Popcorn was the first "puffed cereal" in America; colonial housewives served it with sugar and cream for breakfast.

The American love affair with popcorn got a major boost during World War II when sugar was sent overseas for U.S. troops, reducing the amount of candy available, so per capita consumption for popcorn tripled.

Many Americans buy microwave ovens just so they can make popcorn at home, but few realize popcorn was instrumental in the invention of the microwave. Percy Spencer discovered in 1945 that popcorn would pop when placed under microwave energy. He then experimented with other foods, which led to the invention of the microwave oven.


Popcorn is a celebrated agricultural product in the Heartland, and Marion claims the title of Popcorn Capital of the world because of its extensive packaging of popcorn and production of popcorn-based snacks. The Popcorn Museum displays the world's largest collection of popcorn antiques, including an original 1892 Olsen Commercial Dry Popper, a horse-drawn Cretors Popcorn Wagon, an 1927 Cretors Model TT Popcorn Concession Truck and early electric and automated poppers. On the first weekend after Labor Day, the town of Marion celebrates a popcorn festival with recording stars, dancing, clowns and lots and lots of popcorn. Information Office: tel. 800/WYANDOT,

In Marion you'll also find the home of Warren G. Harding at 380 Mt. Vernon Avenue. Here, in the home he and his fiancé planned and built together in 1890, is the front porch from which he conducted his famous 1920 "front porch" campaign. This was a more innocent day, and instead of the candidate going to the people, they came to him. Some 600,000 voters traveled to Marion that summer to hear the candidate speak. It didn't hurt that renowned blackface singer Al Jolson ("Mammy," "Sonny Boy") appeared on the porch by the candidate to sing campaign songs. If you visit the home, note that the porch has been rebuilt. The original buckled under the weight of so many visitors. Information: Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau tel. 800/371-6888,

Another 50 miles west of Marion is the town of Wapakoneta, where the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum reopened a couple of years ago to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the moon landing. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, was born here; John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth in space, was born in Cambridge in southeastern Ohio. The museum is open from 9:30am-5pm Monday through Saturdays, noon to 5pm on Sundays and closed on major holidays. Admission: $5 adults, $1.25 children 6 to 12. tel. 800/860-0142,


The city of Greeneville, on I-76 close to the Indiana border, boasts the Garst Museum ( at 205 North Broadway, where collections of artifacts from native son Lowell Thomas and native daughter Annie Oakley (born Phoebe Moses). Among the interesting exhibits are the Arab robes that globe-trotting journalist Lowell Thomas and his biographical subject T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) wore during their meetings. Thomas, depicted in the 1962 film by Arthur Kennedy, joined Lawrence's Arab campaign and was responsible for publicizing it to the world. Thomas' birthplace in nearby Woodington has been moved to the back of the museum. Oakley was born in rural Darke County, traveled around the world with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show and retired to Greeneville after a rail accident injury in 1901.

Another display we liked showed the poster for a vaudeville troupe from Greeneville called The Famous Russells with Babe and her Posing Dogs. The dogs were Jack Russell terriers, and the act also included comedy, juggling and knife-throwing.

A Special Splurge: Offbeat Shopping Opportunity


Ohio's antiques capitals of Lebanon and Waynesville boast over 200 antiques shops and the splendid Golden Lamb Inn for a lunch break. Lebanon lures "dust junkies" and discriminating collectors alike. Nearby Waynesville, about 11 miles up the road, has 35 antiques shops and five malls, making the pair a worthwhile all-day outing.

Campground Oases in Northern Ohio

Lake Park Campgrounds, Coshocton. Site of the annual Dulcimer Days Festival in May (for which you'll need a reservation far in advance), the park has 60 narrow back-in sites with electric hookups only (30 amp) and some wheelchair access. There is water and a sanitary dump available, as well as restrooms and showers, fishing and swimming. From town, take route 83 north 1/2 mile past the junction with US 36. tel. 740/622-7528,


Bear Creek Resort KOA, East Sparta. Dataports, fishing and miniature golf are among the extras offered by this campground with full hookups up to 50 amps. It's convenient to Canton area attractions. Going northbound from the Zoar area, take exit 93 off I-77, turn left at first traffic light and drive three miles north to Haut Road, then one mile east on Downing. Reservations: tel. 800/562-3903, 330/

Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Resort, Mantua. With lots of activities for kids, this campground is only half an hour south of Cleveland. There are more than 200 large sites, both back-in and pull-through, full hookups with up to 50 amps electrical, and lake activities including fishing and swimming. Take exit 13A from the Ohio Turnpike (I-80/90), drive north six miles on route 44, then west two miles on route 82. Reservations: tel. 800/344-9644,

Wapakoneta/Lima KOA, Wapakoneta. This campground provides long pull-through sites for big rigs, 50-amp electricity, cable TV and summer movie screenings. Convenient to the Neil Armstrong Museum, it's at 14719 Cemetery Road. Take exit 110 from I-75, go east to the first intersection, then north 3/4 mile on Cemetery Road. Reservations: tel. 800/562-9872, 419/738-6016,


Delaware State Park, Delaware. This park is convenient to Marion area and to Columbus. There are some 200 narrow back-in sites with 20-amp electrical connections, no reservations and some pet restrictions. To get there, drive five miles north of town on US 23 to the park entrance. Information: tel. 740/369-2761,

Butler/Mohican KOA, Butler. Convenient to the Mansfield area carousel and Malabar Farm State Park, this campground has tree-shaded sites, fishing, hiking in the area and full hookups up to 50-amp electric. From Butler, follow route 97 east three miles to Bunker Hill Road South, turn right and drive south two miles. Reservations: tel. 800/562-8719, 419/883-3314,