Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Hillcrest applesSurely the apple is the noblest of fruits.

~Henry David Thoreau~

Apple cider becomes a favorite drink during autumn, and apples are ranked number one in the top ten healthiest foods. So harvest time felt perfect for a trip to Hillcrest Orchard of Walnut Creek to get fresh apples and cider. Rain or shine, this is a bustling place in the fall.

Hillcrest front

   With over 20,000 bushels of apples this year, they have over twenty varieties from which to choose. Two customer favorites are Golden Delicious and Honey Crisp, my personal choice. Their newest variety is now available – Evercrisp, a combination of Honey Crisp and Fuji.

   Hillcrest Orchard has been in the family since 1968. Today Merle and Lela Hershberger own and operate the orchard with help from their children. Their grandfather, Jacob Hershberger, still helps out as often as possible.

Hillcrest view from overlook

An overview features their orchard and beautiful Mud Valley.

   With over 75 acres of apple trees and 5 acres of peach trees, the Hershberger family works all year round. When the new year begins in January, it’s time to trim trees and remove a block of old trees.

   Then in April, it’s planting time each year for approximately 4,000 dwarf trees – most of them being apple. Luckily, they have a tree transplanter, which is pulled behind a tractor. They can sit on the transplanter and drop in the new trees three feet apart. With this method, they can plant over 1,500 trees in one day.

   There’s always work to be done. After planting trees, the trunks are hand wrapped with wire to keep them straight. Trellises, holding two wires that go through the trees, keep the branches from hanging to the ground. During the summer months, the apples need to be thinned on each tree. An apple tree cannot be too full of apples for best production.

Hillcrest Apple sorter

Matt Hershberger often runs the apple sorter.

   In the fall when picking begins, some extra help is needed from young people in the community. All the apples are hand-picked from ladders. That is one of the reasons they switched to dwarf apple trees so they could more easily be reached.

Hillcrest Cidermill

Mark Hershberger and his son, Adam, explain the cider press.

   Fresh pressed apple cider is made at their business operation every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. During October they make 4,000 gallons each week. One Friday/Saturday last year they sold 2,250 gallons.

Hillcrest Sample

A free sample of fresh apple cider tasted refreshing.

   Their cider is unpasteurized so it’s placed immediately in a cooling tank. That also means that it’s only good for about two weeks. Be sure to get a free sample while visiting.

Hillcrest Vinegar

There are many uses for apple cider vinegar.

   Whatever cider isn’t sold is placed into wooden barrels for one year. There it becomes apple cider vinegar, which is also available at their store.

Hillcrest Apple butter

Their fresh apple butter was a popular item.

   However, apples and their products aren’t the only things on hand. Hillcrest Orchard’s the perfect place to find organic fruits and vegetables while in season. Their products look picture perfect. You can also buy pumpkins, mums, baled hay or straw. You’ll be surprised at all the treats available.

Hillcrest Kettle Corn

In the parking lot, Hostetler Kettle Corn provides an extra treat.

   Outside during the fall months, you’ll enjoy the flavor of Hostetler Kettle Corn. Freshly popped in the lot, the smell draws you to their tent. Pick up a bag to munch on while driving home through beautiful Amish country.

   The children and grandchildren feel part of the business as they have grown up in the orchard and store. Hopefully, those youngsters will someday continue providing apples and peaches for all to enjoy.

Hillcrest Welcome

Bags of fresh apples greet you – The First Taste of Fall.

   Merle’s son, Mark, lists pressing cider and picking apples as his favorite chores. When asked what he’d like to do in the future, his answer, “Plant more trees.” What do these hard-working young men like to do for fun? Deer hunt! There’s evidence of that around their store with several deer head mounts.

Hillcrest Cider Sign   Hillcrest Orchard is open from July through April. It has even become a requested stop for tour buses. Many people make an annual visit there in the fall and some stop by often to pick up fresh produce. One man said he took the cider home and froze it in small containers so he could have fresh tasting cider for months to come.

Hillcrest Check out

Area young people help out during their busiest season – September and October.

   Stop by the orchard and pick up some apples straight from the tree. Apples can be enjoyed in so many different ways: apple pie, applesauce, apple butter, apple crisp, dipped in caramel, or just take a bite of a fresh, juicy one. However you decide to use the apples, they will taste delicious.

   Remember, apples are also healthy, so that old adage of ‘an apple a day’ is a good rule to follow. Stop at Hillcrest Orchard of Walnut Creek on your next trip to Amish Country and experience the fresh taste of fall.

Hillcrest Orchard of Walnut Creek can be reached off I-77 at Exit 83. Go left on OH 39W until you reach 515. Turn right at the light, then go straight back about a half mile to the Orchard on the right. 

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The place where Bluegrass happens!

Opera House

The Pennyroyal Opera House is along Old National Road in Fairview.

Along Old National Road in the town of Fairview, Pennyroyal Opera House provides a family-friendly evening of entertaining bluegrass music over the years from October through May. Their season is about to begin!

Country Gentleman Band

Country Gentlemen Tribute Band – October 5

   Their first show on October 5 features The Country Gentlemen Tribute Band with an awesome bluegrass sound.

Kevin Prater Band

Kevin Prater Band – October 12

Remington Ryde 1

Remington Ryde – October 19

   Following weeks will feature such greats as The Kevin Prater Band with strong vocal harmonies and a crowd-pleaser Remington Ryde.

Pennyroyal Opera House painting

Cathy Gadd, a long-time organizer, painted this picture of Pennyroyal Opera House.

   The historic building originally was home to the Methodist Church in the 1830s, then used as a Grange Hall. In 1910, it was purchased by the Pennyroyal Reunion Association. Since 1995, Pennyroyal Opera House is the place where Bluegrass happens.

Pennyroyal Distillery Postcard

This old postcard shows the Pennyroyal Distillery where medicinal oils were made.

   The name Pennyroyal came about from a Pennyroyal Distillery that was located in Fairview in the early 1800s. There seemed to be an abundance in the Fairview area of the wild herb, pennyroyal, a member of the mint family. Pennyroyal herb oil was valued for its medicinal purposes.

Betty and Harold

Betty Eddy planted the seed for bluegrass at Fairview with Harold Dailey.

   A chance encounter at 1st National Bank in Barnesville changed events in Fairview. Harold Dailey began working at the hospital there and one day, Betty Eddy, an employee of the bank, asked Harold if he had an idea for making some money for the Pennyroyal Reunion Association.

Stage

The stage is ready for the season to begin.

   Since Harold played and enjoyed bluegrass, he suggested having a bluegrass show. In 1995, Harold, with some local help, organized the first bluegrass show at the Pennyroyal Opera House. In the beginning, their plan was to feature local bluegrass groups so they could have a place to showcase their talents.

Opera House crowd

Each concert draws a full house of people who love bluegrass.

   From that humble beginning, the show blossomed into a nationally known place to hear and perform bluegrass. Today there is never a problem getting excellent bluegrass bands from all over the United States and Canada to stop by for an evening. They’ve even had bands call from England to request a time for performance.

Harold and Kenny by the stage

Harold and Kenny Keylor reminisce about bands that have played on that stage.

   While Harold started the show, Frank and Cathy Gadd have held the reins for many years recently. Since Harold’s retirement, he asked if he might become active again in organizing the bluegrass programs.

Almost Famous (2)

Harold plays electric acoustic bass in the bluegrass band, Almost Famous.

   Harold says, “I’m glad to be back as I love bluegrass, play bluegrass and love to promote it.” Harold plays electric acoustic bass in a bluegrass band, Almost Famous.

   Many from the Pennyroyal Reunion Association still help by providing the delicious home cooked food in the kitchen. Betty Eddy serves as treasurer and still bakes pies with favorites being custard, rhubarb, and peanut butter.

Lonesome River Band poster

The poster from the first professional band that played there still hangs backstage.

   This isn’t a large building or a large show, but it’s big on talent on Friday evenings. Since they’re right along Interstate 70, many big-name stars will stop for a pick-up-date on their way to their Saturday performance. It’s a great chance to meet some of your favorite bluegrass stars up close and personal.

photos on wall

Spend time before the show checking out the pictures on the walls.

   There are pictures on the wall of some of those popular names who have played there in the past. The first professional band that played there was The Lonesome River Band. Other pictures include such greats as Bobby Osborne, The Grascals, IIIrd Tyme Out, Rhonda Vincent and Dave Evans.

   For those nights when you want to listen to some top-notch bluegrass and can’t make it out to the show, sit back and listen on the radio. Their shows are carried live at 101.1 FM in Wheeling and 101.9 FM in Cambridge.

   If you want to check out their full 2018 schedule, go to www.pennyroyalbluegrass.com. For booking information call Harold Dailey at 740-827-0957.

Inside with seats already reserved

People have already placed their blankets on seats to save them for the next show. It’s a tradition!

   Come early some Friday evening for some delicious food, then go upstairs and listen to some quality classic bluegrass, which puts soul into music.

Pennyroyal Opera House in Fairview can easily be reached off I-70 between Old Washington and St. Clairsville. Take exit 198 and this popular Bluegrass Music house can be found on the north side of the road very near the exit.

Get Ready to Rope

Bev Hachita 001A short true adventure

Cowboys began roping as part of ranch work to brand or medicate their calves. It became a contest to see which cowboy could do it the quickest. Their goal was to throw a lasso around a calf’s head, jump off their horse, tie three of the calf’s legs together, and finish the trick as fast as possible. This led to roping contests at rodeos and fairs.

   Recently, a new type of roping sprang up. My first experience with this happened in a small town of about thirty people called Hachita, New Mexico. The only disturbance in this small town might be a dust devil coming down the street or a Border Patrol helicopter flying overhead.

   One week in 1996, they decided to try this new kind of roping…a chicken roping. Yes, chickens, with feathers flying and beaks crowing. One roper told those watching, “If it has legs, it can be roped.”

   Bev Chicken Roping 001   Now this kind of roping would not be done from a horse and would require a different kind of lasso. Just a heavy piece of string is used, so they don’t choke the chicken.

   Just like in the world of cattle, the chickens they roped all had names. The meaner the animal, the meaner its name. Names like Jalapeno Joe, Cholulu Chuy or Red Hot Flame were typical.

   A large crowd of over fifty people gathered to witness the chicken roping. The chicken would be let out of a box and the cowboy would be timed to see how fast he could rope it. The one who roped it the fastest won a Chicken Roping Belt Buckle with a turquoise stone found in the Little Hatchet Mountains nearby.

   Small towns often have fun in unusual ways. A mural of the Chicken Roping was painted by a traveling artist on the outside of the bar there. Inside on the wall were pictures of the winners. It soon became an annual event with even larger crowds.

   And afterward? What else, but a good old-fashioned chicken BBQ.

Hachita Liquor Saloon was no longer in operation on my last trip west. The paintings on the building were done by an old friend, C.M. Scott, a cowboy artist.

 

Rugs- Carol and Rugs

She makes rugs in many patterns and sizes. They last a long time!

Phoenix Rising gives new life to materials that have exhausted their original use. Carol Bridwell, from the New Concord area, thinks of ways for them to be reborn into unique and colorful pieces to accent your home or place of business.

   She participates in many local festivals including Art on the Square in Caldwell, Raven’s Glen Winery Red, Wine and Blue Fest, Y-Bridge Arts Festival, and Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival. But Carol didn’t begin displaying her work until after she retired.

Rugs - Star Barn

Creativity runs in the family. Her great-grandfather created barns in Noble County and used a star as his signature mark. Carol displays a part of one of those old barns.

   This lovely lady first worked at AK Steel Mill in Zanesville. She started as an hourly employee and worked up to a manager. By retirement, she had managed every operating area. Her energy knows no bounds. Even though she enjoyed crocheting at the age of six, it wasn’t until after retirement that she began to get serious about her creative side.

Rugs - First Loom

Her first loom has been strung with cotton warp to begin a new rug with a beautiful pattern.

   Her interest in weaving all started over thirty years ago when Carol bought her first loom. She knew this was something she would enjoy as she always enjoyed fabric – the threads and patterns. Guess she was a natural for weaving. But one of those early rugs sat unfinished in the loom for five years.

   When asked about the name for this new business, Carol explained, “The Phoenix has always been a strong image of rebirth to me, so I chose the name Phoenix Rising to indicate that this venture was a new direction, and would continue to develop and grow.” Sounds like a great choice.

Rugs - Warp

Spools of cotton warp on the wall provide a pleasant and relaxing decor for her weaving room.

  Hand-woven rugs are her specialty, and some are quite large. She enjoys mixing fabrics and colors to achieve a very special look and feel. Her rugs are very popular as they are washable and seem to last forever. Some people have had one of her rugs for twenty years. They are something you can use and enjoy every day.

Rugs - Room Addition

This is her own special room for weaving, crafts, and her collection of pottery and glass.

   A special room was added to their house just for her looms and creative supplies. And she has filled it quite well. Over a thousand spools of cotton warp can be found in a lovely pattern on the wall. The only reason she knows that figure is because her grandson counted them.

Rugs - Tests colors

Carol tests the color of the fabric and warp to see how well they combine.

   When she sees a piece of art, her mind begins thinking about how she can create a rug out of that pattern. She uses the cotton warp and cotton salvage fabric in these designs. Reusing worn out items also appears to be a pattern that Carol follows. She buys the salvage fabric 150 lbs at a time with no idea as to what colors or patterns will be in that package.

Rugs - Adding fabric

After the threading is complete, cotton fabric is added to create a beautiful pattern.

   It takes about twelve hours to make a rug. Her grandson remarked, “People have no idea how complicated it is to make a rug.” And he is definitely correct. Each strand has to be threaded on the loom and tied individually. Plus, they must be done in the correct order and number of strands so the pattern emerges. It’s amazing!

Rugs - Sign Display at Festival

These are just a sample of the signs displayed at Salt Fork Festival.

   While rug-making is at the top of her list, Carol dabbles in many other creative endeavors. She might use concrete, beams from an old barn, or boards from an old corral. The possibilities from her mind seem to be endless. Did I forget to mention that Carol also helps her son on their hog farm? This lady never stops.

Rugs - Pallet Cow

This cow, made of wooden pallets, was displayed in her Phoenix Rising booth.

   Wood from pallets can be used to make boxes and signs, then designs are added for different occasions. Recently, she has been trying some wood burning. Animal silhouettes are another use of the pallet wood. Many of these are based on real animals. Her dog, Clyde, and their grandson’s goat, Gilbert, are just a couple examples of those special family pets used for models.

Rugs- Model Clyde

Her friendly dog, Clyde, served as a model for some of her wooden silhouettes.

   Her daughter, Alicia, helps with the painting of the signs, and both her daughters help her with her displays. But the creative part is mainly done by Carol.

   Someday she would like to fulfill another dream – cheese making. She grew up with grandparents who loved cheese. But Carol doesn’t just want to make any cheese, she hopes to make sheep cheese and already has the place planned for this project. She prefers sheep cheese because it has higher butterfat and mild taste. After all, it’s the most prolific cheese in the world.

Rugs- Dog Signs

An assortment of signs about dogs is displayed on a table in her special room.

   As you can probably imagine, she doesn’t give much time to sleeping – usually about four hours a night. She works in the shop in the afternoon and does her weaving in the evening. In case she gets an idea during the night, she keeps a sketch pad beside her bed.


Rugs - at Festival

Carol spent time working on a rug at last year’s Salt Fork Festival.

   You’ll want to stop by the booth of Phoenix Rising at the Salt Fork Festival in 2018 for their 50th Anniversary. Carol has attended the festival for many years and enjoys the great variety of vendors that appear each year. Her booth provides a colorful and interesting addition. You might even be lucky enough to watch her working on a rug.

You can contact Carol Bridwell at 740-319-1673 or csbridwell@roadrunner.com if you have any questions about her creative work.

The better way to snack!

Wyandot Overview

The museum carries a circus theme under a red, white and blue canopy.

Popcorn and circus tents seem to go hand in hand so it’s no surprise that the inside of the Wyandot Popcorn Museum in Marion resembles a large circus tent. Under the tent, you’ll discover the largest collection of restored popcorn antiques in one place. This is one of only two popcorn museums in the world with working machines, the other one also being in Ohio at Holland.

Wyandot Factory

Wyandot Snacks now occupies the old popcorn factory.

   This collection began as part of a research project on the history of the Wyandot Popcorn Company by George K. Brown. At first Brown kept his collection in a one-room schoolhouse built in 1882. W. Hoover Brown, the founder of Wyandot Popcorn Company, attended this school and started the company there. But soon the collection exceeded the space available.

Wyandot Popcorn Museum in Marion

Wyandot Popcorn Museum is located in an old U.S. Post Office in Marion.

   After having displays at several locations, in 1989 the ninety-year-old U.S. Post Office building in downtown Marion became available for purchase. Heritage Hall became the perfect place for not only the Wyandot Popcorn Museum but also the Marion County Historical Society. So when you come for a visit, you get two museums for the price of one.

Wyandot Cracker Jack display

Informative guide, Val Mettler, explained that Wyandot made Cracker Jack for a decade.

   At this point, the Wyandot Popcorn trustees agreed to give financial support to the project if they could maintain 40% of the display space on the first floor for their popcorn memorabilia. The guides at the museum make the popcorn history come alive through the meaningful stories they tell.

Wyandot Paul Newman

This 1909 Dunbar horse-drawn wagon was used by Paul Newman to introduce his new line of popcorn in New York City.

   A machine owned by Paul Newman is a favorite at the museum. When Newman decided to move into the popcorn industry, he wanted to work with a purely American company so he chose Wyandot with a little friendly persuasion from George Brown. The cart on display was used in New York City to introduce his popped corn.

Wyandot Popcorn

Different varieties of popcorn create different shapes when popped.

   The owner, Brown, worked diligently to create hybrid popcorn grains that would have the proper moisture content so grains would pop evenly and there would be no unpopped kernels, called Old Maids, left behind. They also developed grains that would have bigger kernels when popped so it would take less popcorn to fill a bag.

Wyandot Circus Wagon Barnum & Bailey

Barnum & Bailey used this popcorn machine and peanut roaster.

   In 1996, Wyandot Popcorn Co had a major fire and the factory was closed for about a year. During that time, George paid more than 300 workers 60% of their regular pay as well as providing medical insurance for their families. When they resumed operation, each worker received a $1,000 bonus. It’s no surprise that 98% of the employees returned to work. With goodwill like this, it makes you want to find some Wyandot products to purchase.

Wyandot Sign

The sign’s logo indicates the town’s connection to the Wyandots, an early area Indian tribe.

   Today the business operates under the name, The Wyandot Snack Co., although now they make more than just popcorn. They produce grain-based snacks such as tortilla chips, cheese curls, corn chips and candy covered popcorn. The smells from their company at the edge of town let everyone know what they’re making that day.

Mr. Popcorn

Poppy is the mascot for Marion’s annual Popcorn Festival.

   Each September, the first weekend after Labor Day, Marion holds a Popcorn Festival starting with a parade on Thursday evening. This is the largest popcorn festival in the world and the weekend is filled with activities and entertainment. Admission to the museum is free this weekend of Sept. 6-8.

Wyandot Holcomb & Hoke

This beautiful 1918 Holcomb & Hoke buttered each kernel individually.

   Regular visiting hours for the museum through October are Wednesday thru Sunday from 1-4. Remember there’s more to see in Marion as this is the home of President Warren G. Harding. That will require a future Gypsy Road Trip.

Wyandot Box of Popcorn

Everyone receives a free box of popcorn when they finish the tour.

   Stop in at Wyandot Popcorn Museum for a poppin’ good time!

Wyandot Popcorn Museum is located at 169 E Church Street in Marion, Ohio, which is north of Columbus on Route 23. You can park on the street or there is handicapped parking in the rear. 

BHK LogoFamily owned businesses fill an important role in the community. They create trust and satisfaction because they aim to fulfill customer needs.

Since 2007, Battle Horse Knives has been making custom designed knives in Cambridge, Ohio. They have knives for every need from pocket and hunting knives to bushcraft or tactical. No matter what kind of knife you desire, Battle Horse Knives will create it for you.

Frontier Folder knife

This popular Frontier Folding knife has a striking fiberglass handle.

It all began with one man Dan ‘the Man’ Coppins, who couldn’t find a good hunting knife. His daughter, Alicia and her husband John McQuain, now own the business. This is a family oriented business with the Coppins and McQuains filling most positions. However, those they bring on board may not have the same last name, but they still consider them family.

John seemed the perfect person to take over the business as he has been a machinist for many years. His father also is a machinist so John grew up practicing the trade. He excels with his high-tech ability to design the computer programs needed to cut the perfect product.

Adam Lemon mills the desired shape with the help of the computer.

Adam Lemon mills the desired knife shape with the help of a computer program.

It’s surprising how many steps the knife making process entails. It all begins with a sheet of steel from which the blades are cut. Then after getting the blade configured to their high standards, it is sent to Peters’ Heat Treating, as the heat treatment is a crucial factor in a long-lasting, strong knife.

Jason Barnett handles

Jason Barnett attaches knife handles, from plain to fancy.

When it comes back, the handle’s attached, blade sharpened and tested before sending it to the customer. These guys want their customers to have the best knife possible.

Matt McQuain stamps each knife with BHK logo.

Brother Matt McQuain stamps each knife with their BHK logo.

They believe in their product and give a Life of the Knife guarantee on every knife they sell. That means if you ever need a repair or replacement, Battle Horse Knives will honor your request. There’s no limit on how far these honest folks will go to satisfy their customers’ knife needs.

BHK Alicia

Owner, Alicia McQuain, welcomes people to their downtown store.

A couple of years ago they decided to open the Battle Horse Knives Retail Shop at 624 Wheeling Avenue in Cambridge. There is a wide variety of items available here including a wide selection of educational books and Military Tech manuals, which discuss tactics from survival to firearms.

Their most popular knife is a “Small Workhorse”, which was designed to skin a white-tail deer. For a sturdier knife, “Bushcrafter” will tackle many outdoor needs, making it more a tool than a knife.

BHK Leather

Leather bracelets, keychains and knife covers are made at their downtown location.

If you’re going to have a knife, most people want a pouch to carry it. For that reason, BHK designs their own leather pouches, which include great designs. They have drawers of sheaves ready to go in their downtown store.

John McQuain and Waterjet

John McQuain, owner, works with the Waterjet, which cuts designs and lettering in metal.

Right now they are developing techniques to use a waterjet to cut out designs on metal, stone, glass or ceramics. Computer operated, the waterjet can cut designs or lettering into material that will last a long time.

It’s important to take good care of your knife. As John tells customers, “A dull knife blade is about as useful as a hole in a bucket.” So if your knife gets rusty or dull, bring it in for what they call a “spa treatment”.

BHK Famous People

Pictures of many celebrities, who use BHK knives, are displayed in the store.

Many celebrities, who use BHK knives include Zach Brown, Ted Nugent, and Dave Canterbury, who killed a gator with his BHK knife. Even Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty and nearly all the people on Survivor Show carry a BHK knife with them. Folks who use their knives say they’re the best they’ve ever owned.

This business hasn’t stayed local. John and Alicia travel all over the United States to outdoor shows to spread the word about their high-quality knives. They will be visiting Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama in the near future. Worldwide, they have sold to over thirty countries.

NRA Knife

This El Dorado was chosen Knife of the Year for Ohio Friends of  NRA.

NRA shows are popular places to display their wares. Last year their “El Dorado” was named “Knife of the Year” for Ohio Friends of NRA.

BHK Tom Casterline with Ted Nugent guitar

Tom Casterline, store manager, displays the guitar Ted Nugent traded for a BHK knife.

The staff here are all outdoorsmen. When they are not working, you might find them camping, hunting, or shooting. Every year they get all their families together for a weekend campout at AEP campground down near Cumberland.

Their goal is to create a knife that is not necessarily pretty, but useful and of heirloom quality. Costs of these handcrafted USA knives by BHK range from $60 to $250 and beyond.

When people leave home these days, they want to be certain they have their keys and cell phone. But Adam remarked, “A knife is a critical thing to have in my pocket.”

Battle Horse Knives Retail Shop is located at 624 Wheeling Avenue in downtown Cambridge, Ohio. If you have a special knife you would like made, come talk to the friendly owners. You may also visit their website at Battle Horse Knives .

Hocking Valley Welcome

This railroad car welcomes you to the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway.

Take to the rails on Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, which boards at Nelsonville and heads toward Logan. After purchasing your ticket in the depot, there’s a small museum inside of train memorabilia. Almost everyone in the depot and on the train is a volunteer. They enjoy meeting and telling stories to all the passengers.

Hocking Depot

All train rides depart from the 1982 Nelsonville Depot based on a prototype once in Rising Sun.

   First, you will have to decide which type of car you want for your adventure today. There are actually three choices that can accommodate approximately 300 passengers. The three steps to the cars are steep, but there is a wheelchair lift available.

   One car is air-conditioned with soft seats and a quieter ride. Or you might select a car with windows that can be opened so you can see and hear the sights a little better. Some prefer the open cars with wooden benches and a roof overhead in case of rain.

Hocking Valley Train

Baldwin 4005 Switch Engine running on diesel and electric was previously used by the US Air Force.

   Riding in the car with open windows seemed a good choice as wanted to take some pictures along the way as well as hear the sound of the train more clearly. The powerful steam whistle blows and the wheels start to turn as the train begins its journey.

Hocking kiln

The train passed remains of an 1880 kiln used by Nelsonville Brick Co., who won first prize for bricks at the 1904 World’s Fair.

   During the comfortable, swaying ride through the countryside, a narrative over the loudspeaker gave information regarding the formation of the railway. In 1869, the Columbus and Hocking Railroad began as a fast, inexpensive way to deliver coal to the market. At one time there were forty coal mines being serviced by the railroad.

Hocking Baseball

Passed by the Crabtree Baseball Field, named for local hero Estel Crabtree, a former Cincinnati Reds outfielder. Seats for the stadium are made of stone from the old Hocking Canal.

   The railroad had numerous mergers over the years and finally merged into the Chesapeake & Ohio system. When they began selling off lines south of Columbus, the Hocking Scenic Railway purchased track in 1972 and began a renewal of the railroad. They have been operating the Scenic Railway since 1985.

Hocking River

Part of the route followed the Hocking River, which flows into the Ohio River.

Hocking Engine House

The Hocking Engine House is located near the Hocking College Campus.

   This two-hour journey takes a break during the return trip on the campus of Hocking College at Robbins Crossing, a pioneer log cabin village, organized and run by students of the college as well as community volunteers.

Robbins Crossing

The Pioneer Village at Robbins Crossing comes to life with costumed interpreters.

   Robbins Crossing is a collection of original log cabins built by settlers of the Valley in 1850. They were dismantled and carefully moved to the campus location where they were reassembled in a village format. The insides of the cabins are filled with authentic artifacts from the period.

Hocking Pioneer Artist

A pioneer artist relaxes while painting on the porch after a morning in the kitchen.

   Visit a blacksmith shop, general store, one-room school and more. Everyone is dressed in period costume to make the visit more authentic. This is a great chance to see how life was lived in Southeastern Ohio in the 1850s.

Hocking Feeding Chickens

Children enjoyed feeding the chickens at Robbins Crossing.

   This trip through the green woods of the Hocking Hill included sights of deer, geese, flowers and streams. Actually, part of the way we drove along the Hocking River.

Pioneer Village Cooking

This pioneer was preparing dinner on an old coal stove.

   During the ride, several families had brought along a picnic lunch to enjoy on the train. Children seemed fascinated to be taking a train ride and even when it was over, they wanted to get back on board.

Hocking Brick Homes

Many houses and buildings along the way were built of those famous Nelsonville bricks.

   The train runs its normal schedule every Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day weekend until the last weekend in October. But their extra events sound like fun!

Hocking Cross

Overlooking Nelsonville is a cross that a church member had placed in memory of his wife, Betty.

   Special themed “family friendly” events are held throughout the year in conjunction with the train ride. Check their schedule at http://www.hvsry.com to find out when you might take a ride on the Robbery Train, Fall Foliage Train, Santa Train, or New Year’s Eve when you can have your choice of pizza and pop or wine and cheese.

   Experience the feeling of riding a train across the country in those early days. Sit back and relax to the clickety-clack of the train wheels on the Hocking Scenic Railway.

This adventure brought back wonderful memories of the Byesville Scenic Railway and their capable storytellers who made the journey so interesting.

The Hocking Valley Scenic Depot is located in Nelsonville, Ohio at 33 W. Canal Street, along US Route 33 in Athens county in Southeastern Ohio. Depending on your location, there are many ways to arrive at the depot.

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