Day 11 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways
As I drove through Southeastern Ohio last night, I now understand why the campground was so hard to find at Hocking Hills State Park. As opposed to having a main entrance to the park with all the attractions inside it, the park is separated into six areas which are named for the attraction. Consequently, Cedar Falls had its own area as did Ash Cave and the other attractions.
I began my morning winding around a few 15 mph curves and driving through falling yellow leaves to arrive at Cedar Falls for the first hike of the day. I selected attractions with the shortest trails due to my sprained ankle. The trail to Cedar Falls is only a 0.5 miles out and back (verified with a local in the parking lot), albeit mostly steps. Due to the drought, the falls weren’t really falling. The side of the rock was wet…that’s about it.
I left Cedar Falls and stopped at Ash Cave per the lady’s recommendation at the campgrounds. She said it would be a good path to take for someone with a sprained ankle. I’ll say! It was wheelchair accessible, short, and one of the neatest places I’ve been. I’m glad the State of Ohio was able to make this area available to the physically challenged.
Moss covered trees lined the path to a giant cave or rock ledge. Many trails led to the rim above too. I’m certain neither my description nor the pictures will provide an idea of the grandeur, as I was only able to capture a portion of the cave in each photo.
At the end of the trail, I ran into the local who confirmed the distance to Cedar Falls. He asked, “Did you walk the three mile trail?
“Oh, gosh no”, was my reply. “I see you ran the trail though?”
Not only did he run that trail, Brad planned on running 8 miles worth of trails before going back to Columbus. He was a criminal defense attorney, who helped kids that mistakenly took a detour in life. Not repeating felons or gang members, but ones that made that one mistake getting into drugs or stealing from their employers. He said to help them, he plucks them out of their environment and gets them involved in the outdoors. That is so great! He drives an hour to Southeastern Ohio every Friday for his run and plans on camping with his family at Hocking Hills State Park tomorrow.
Who knew so hilly? I left Hocking Hills State Park and drove up and down over hills so steep, that when passing over the peak, who knows where the road will be on the other side. When coming down, the rear view mirror only shows sky. Thirty minutes later I arrived in Nelsonville, still in Southeastern Ohio.
Nelsonville is full of Victorian homes, and its square is home to Stuart’s Opera House and the Dew Hotel which still look almost as they did in the 19th century. I tried “the Best Burger in Town” per the sign outside The Mine Tavern. If the mayonnaise had been Hellman’s instead of Miracle Whip, maybe it would have been!
McConnelsville Lock on the Muskingum River
The drive continued through Southeastern Ohio as it meandered along the Muskingum River and through many river towns. These towns flourished from 1837 to 1841 when 10 locks were built to tame the river for steamboats. I stopped and toured one of the locks outside McConnelsville. Each lock required eight muscle powered, geared winches to open the miter gates. One winch was used to open the gates while a corresponding one was on the opposite lock wall to close the gate, simultaneously.
Marietta – Muskingum Park
My final stop on my drive through Southeastern Ohio was Marietta, the first American settlement in the Northwest Territory. I visited a Muskingum Park on the river that displayed the towboat W.P. Snyder, Jr., the oldest pilothouse, and other signs about floods and the Underground Railroad.
The Underground Railroad
From 1812 through 1861, fugitive slaves fleeing toward Canada were aided by descendants of early settlers who operated Underground Railroad Stations along the Muskingum River. Additionally, the first documented African American born in the Northwest Territory, James Davis, was born in Marietta.
Towboat W.P. Snyder
The towboat W.P. Snyder was first operated by Carnegie Steel Company and launched in 1918 to push barges and accommodate a crew of 20. It carried no passengers or cargo. Later it was purchased by the Crucible Steel Company of America and would have been scrapped for metals like most others, but the Ohio Historical Society requested that it be preserved and displayed.
Tell City Pilothouse
The oldest pilothouse was removed from the 1889 Tell City steamboat after it sank in an accident at Little Hocking, Ohio on April 6, 1917. It served as a summer house on the river front lawn of the Bent family. This is the type of pilothouse that Mark Twain (my favorite “classics” author) wrote about.
After visiting the historic park, I left Southeastern Ohio in route to the next scenic drive beginning in Lexington, Ohio. After last night’s fiasco and wishing I hadn’t passed up places to stay in Cincinnati, I reached out to my friend Page’s contacts in Columbus as Columbus in not far from Lexington. I called two contacts, but one was out of town and the other was out of pocket as I never heard back from her.
Around 6:00 or so, I decided to veer off from Columbus and head toward Lexington and hope for a campground. I’ve learned it is much harder to get a spot on the weekend. When my cell service reappeared, my iPhone bleeped with a message. It was Bobby, my old horse trainer that I had visited just days before checking in on me.
Being a horse trainer, he knows horse people everywhere, and yes, he knew someone in Columbus. One and a half hours later, I was parked in Kathy’s driveway! I briefly met her before she and her family went to the movies, and now I’m happily situated with my van is plugged into her garage. I’ll have to keep Bobby posted on my whereabouts. I might be able to reserve a lot of driveways. Hopefully, I’ll get to talk to Kathy a little more tomorrow. ETB
Map of My Road Trip Across the USA
For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.
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Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop. Each card has a travel story associated with it. 20% of proceeds are donated to charity.