Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Philo Ohio’

Cruisin’ Down the Muskingum River on a Sunny Afternoon

River boats

Camping, boating and fishing are popular along the beautiful Muskingum.

While the Muskingum River begins at Coshocton, between Zanesville and Marietta it holds many points of interest. This river is the only river navigable by larger boats within the state of Ohio. That’s all because of its system of eleven dams and locks, still in working order, that extends for 112 miles.

River Ferry 1900 001 (2)

The Coal Run Ferry delivered a load of railroad crossties on horse-drawn wagons across the Muskingum before bridges were built.

The river received its name from the Native Americans, who called it Moos-kin-gung – meaning “Elk Eye River”. That name happened due to the large herds of elk that once roamed this valley. In those early days, the cargo on the river consisted of essentials such as salt, flour, pork and apples. A round trip took three to five weeks to go from Zanesville to Pittsburgh and back via the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers.

Steamer at Lock #3 001 (2)

The steamer approaches Lock #3 at Lowell in the early 1900s.

When steamboats became popular, navigation was rough on the rugged Muskingum River so they designed a system of dams and locks to lift the boats when the elevation changed abruptly. After a boat is secured within the lock, the lock tender closes the gate and opens the valves required to raise or lower the pool level. When the water in the lock chamber has reached the required level, the lock tender opens the through gate just like they did in 1841.

Steamer Marietta stuck on dam at Lock # 1 001 (2)

Steamer Marietta got stuck on the dam when not using the locks.

Sometimes the boats would attempt to go over those rugged spots without using the locks. Once in a while they succeeded, but often they ended up stuck in the river.

River Lorena

The Lorena takes passengers on a pleasure trip down the Muskingum River.

This trip began with a stop at the Lorena Sternwheeler at Zane’s Landing Park in the city of Zanesville. While the original Lorena visited Zanesville in the late 1800s, the present one arrived in 1976 for Zane’s Trace Commemoration. A ride on the sternwheeler gives you a chance to feel the river, as the paddles create a merry sound. Memories of the 1800s ride along with the Lorena.

River Lock 9

Lock #9 at Philo provides a great view of the dam and locks.

Soon Lock 9 at Philo appears with the original lock tender’s house.The falls at the lock sparkle in the sunshine as people stand in the shallow river to fish.

River Ohio Power Plant 1923 001 (2)

The Philo Ohio Power Plant was the first electric plant built along the Muskingum.

In 1923, Philo Ohio Power Company, one of the largest electric plants of that time, was located on an island in the river.

River Hand Powered Locks 001 (2)

The lock tender hand operates the lock at Rokeby Lock #8.

Lock 8, Rokeby Lock at Eagleport, is a special stop along this system of locks, the only hand operated locks still being used in the United States today. In fact, it is believed there is only one other system like this in the world, and that is in China. It was near this lock that General John Hunt Morgan and several hundred cavalry forded the Muskingum River on his raid across Ohio.

River Stockport Inn

Stockport Mill Inn would be a pleasant place to spend an evening.

Beside Lock 6 stands the beautiful Stockport Inn. Today’s Inn was built in 1906 by the Dover brothers; however, there were two mills previously at this site dating back to 1842. This mill was known for its refined flours: Gold Bond, Seal of Ohio, and Pride of the Valley. It’s a perfect place to spend a night as each room has a balcony that overlooks the river. On the weekends, enjoy a tasty meal at Restaurant on the Dam.

River Fishing

Fishermen wade into the river in hopes of a great catch.

During the drive down the river, it is lined with cabins and campers for those that enjoy being near the water. Most have boats at their docks and many slides end in the river. Frequently fishermen are either on the shore or wading nearby waiting for a nibble on their line, and perhaps fish to cook over a campfire in the evening

River Ohio

Imagine early travelers’ surprise upon seeing that the Muskingum River empties into the wide Ohio River at Marietta.

The trip ends at the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory – Marietta. Here the Muskingum River joins the Ohio River to flow eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.

River Lafayette

At the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers stands the Lafayette Hotel.

Some say this beautiful old Lafayette Hotel still holds spirits of many travelers from the past. One nighttime visitor is Mr. Hoag, former owner of the hotel, who appears in his brown derby hat. That’s something not seen by my eyes, but a story heard by my ears.

The locks are open weekends 9:30 – 6:00 from mid May until mid October. Please check their schedule and call ahead if you need to use the locks at another time so a lock tender can be available.


While in Marietta, you might want to cruise on the Valley Gem.

Be sure to take time to sit along the Ohio River and enjoy reminiscing about those long ago riverboats that went from Pittsburgh to Zanesville along this route. They carried both passengers and freight. Barges still carry their loads of coal and steel up and down the river, and people enjoy taking a ride in their pleasure boats as well.

Some things have changed, but the Muskingum River has remained the same since the days of ancient visitors. Hope you can enjoy a trip down the Muskingum River sometime soon.

Earthship at Blue Rock Station – “House of Trash”

Blue Rock Station entrance sign

Blue Rock Station entrance sign

If you recycle bottles and tires, perhaps you should try to use them to build something. Some of the possibilities are quite surprising.

Just ask Jan and Annie Warmke at Blue Rock Station south of Philo, where you can find their Earthship or “House of Trash” as some call it. They had an intense passion to use whatever they could find to build their home in the country. All of their buildings are composed of recycled materials and pieces of nature.

Annie, the Mother of Creativity, guides the tour of her dream come to fruition. She served as both creator and contractor of Blue Rock Station. With the help of a few interns, mostly college students, projects are designed and completed during the summer months.

Interns are encouraged by Annie to let their minds expand while they try new things, even if they fail. “If you haven’t screwed up at least once, you’re not thinking hard enough.”

Plastic two-liter bottle Greenhouse

Plastic two-liter bottle Greenhouse

A greenhouse built of plastic two liter bottles provides a place to start plants and grow food throughout the year. Over one thousand plastic bottles used to construct it will never need replaced since they don’t decompose.

Annie, the owner and guide, is easily spotted with her pink hat.

Annie, the owner and guide, is easily spotted wearing her pink hat.

Cottages provide housing for overnight guests and/or interns. Made of bales of straw, they’re covered with “earth plaster”. This adobe-like covering consists of mud, straw, milk, salt, flour and linseed oil – so it won’t crack. Pickle jars placed in the ceiling gather outdoor light. Bottle bottoms create beautiful window substitutes.

Outdoor Patio

Outdoor Patio

An outdoor patio makes the perfect place to relax under the shade of the trees. Nearby is one of two composting outdoor toilets, as well as the garden since both need to be in close proximity to the main house, Earthship. Needless to say, pesticides are not used.

Annie has tea prepared for the group inside Earthship. A few mint leaves dropped in the ice tea make it extra refreshing on a very hot day. In addition, salted cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, sandwiches and cookies complete the back to nature table setting. There Annie sits in a comfortable swing, while answering questions from the group.

"House of Trash"

“House of Trash”

Tires, bottles, cans, plastic two liter bottles and milk jugs form the walls of the house. Then this core material is covered with earth plaster and a coat of lime paint to brighten it. With help from old barns being torn down and pressed tin for the ceiling, the house becomes a showplace.

Oven in Kitchen Area

Herbs drying near oven in kitchen area

A unique brick oven in one corner contained guard rails, pipe and even metal rods from old campaign signs for the grill of the oven. On a cold winter day, Annie sometimes wraps in a blanket and curls up on the brick wall to relax, read, or nap.

Due to window placement for maximum use of winter sun, and wall structure which absorbs and releases heat, temperature in the house never goes below 55 degres…with no stove needed, although sometimes used! Rooms are U-shaped, which holds heat extra well. It seems very similar to living in a cave

All roofs collect water into a cistern from which they get water for basic use, but not for drinking. Over the year they collect over 150,000 gallons of water from their rooftops.

Dragon guest cottage

Dragon guest cottage

Something I know works from experience is a solar shower. Water, in a black plastic bag on the roof, gathers heat from the sun. A switch on the end of the bag opens the shower head and produces a nice warm, sometimes hot, shower. However, Annie wants to add a bathtub very soon.

As experiments continue, new ideas come to the forefront that they perhaps wish they would have known about a few years back. Their newest project is solar energy installation. A solar panel with a wind turbine gathers energy in one place, while the house has a small solar panel. More will be installed shortly.

Reservations must be made in advance so either call 740-674-4300 or visit their website at

Take a drive along the Muskingum River and visit this unusual “House of Trash” or Earthship, as they feel more correctly describes it.  Peace abounds at Blue Rock Station with only nice voices, open hearts, and inquiring minds desired. Perhaps it will inspire you to be more creative with your natural resources…and your trash.

Earthship can easily be reached traveling along the Muskingum River on Route 60. Cross over the Muskingum River to the west on Route 66, North Street. At the stop sign turn left on Old River Road.  In less than a mile you will come to a hill with a fork in the road. There is a Blue Rock Station sign pointing toward the right on Virginia Ridge Road. From then on, follow the Blue Rock Station signs until you reach the gate of the property.




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