If the bicentennial celebration for the city of Columbus has piqued your curiosity about Ohio's early days, a trip to Chillicothe might be in order. The Ross County city, located about 50 miles south of Columbus, is rich in Ohio history dating back thousands of years.
If the bicentennial celebration for the city of Columbus has piqued your curiosity about Ohio's early days, a trip to Chillicothe might be in order. The Ross County city, located about 50 miles south of Columbus, is rich in Ohio history dating back thousands of years. Hopewell Culture National Historical Park offers a look into the life of some of Ohio's earliest inhabitants. The park contains large geometric earthworks and artifacts crafted by the Hopewell culture that flourished in the woodlands of North American between 200 B.C. and A.D. 500. Kids will enjoy walking the grounds, viewing items collected from the mounds and hearing about the mysteries that surround the ancient culture and the traditions of its people. The collection at the Ross County Heritage Center also includes some really old pieces. The museum has tools and items dating back 14,000 years, said director Tom Kuhn. The bulk of the displays, however, focus on more recent history. Kids normally love checking out the vehicles in the transportation room, Kuhn said. The collection includes an authentic Conestoga wagon, a band wagon and early fire equipment. Other family favorites are the toy exhibit, which has pieces from the last half of the 19th century, and the model railroad display designed to show what Chillicothe looked like in the 1920s. The museum also has a log house on its property that helps kids imagine what life was like for children about 200 years ago. "Kids are always fascinated when they come in and see this," Kuhn said. Youngsters may find the accommodations at nearby Adena Mansion and Gardens, the stately home of Thomas Worthington, more to their liking. Despite the home's upper class touches, the occupants still had to use an outhouse; historical interpreter Renate Hartsaugh is quick to tell young visitors. The home of Ohio's sixth governor offers great insights on how early Ohioans of means lived. The spices were kept under lock and key because they were expensive and hard to come by. The rooms lack closets because most people only had a few outfits.Pink paint was expensive and considered manly. The Ohio Historical Society site also includes a museum and education center, which introduces visitors the Worthington family and further explains what their day-to-day life may have been like. Families are encouraged to visit the buildings, explore the gardens and grounds and picnic on the property, which includes a lookout spot of the view that is depicted on Ohio's state seal, said executive director Teresa Sparks. According to local history, a group of early leaders spent the night working at Adena and the next morning were so inspiredby the view from the house they turned it into the seal. "We have a lot up here," she said. "You could easily spend half a day." For a different historical experience, attend a performance of "Tecumseh." The outdoor drama tells the story of the legendary Shawnee leader who struggled to defend his homeland in the Ohio country during the late 1700s. Visitors to Chillicothe who do not pack a picnic need not worry. There are several good dining options. Carl's Townhouse, which opened in 1951, serves up bite-sized hamburgers, fries and several other types of sandwiches. Grinders Coffee & Café makes a tasty chicken salad and other gourmet sandwiches. For a more unique dining experience, visit Sumburger, the 1950s drive-in that still offers carhop service. Leave room for dessert at Mary Jane's Bakery. The eatery features homemade cinnamon buns and scones. Another great spot for treats is New System Bakery, known for their sugar cookies and doughnuts. The shop often sells out of baked goods so visit early in the day. A beautiful spot to walk off all the delicious food is Yoctangee Park. The 48-acre park has playground equipment and walking trails. Photos by Alysia Burton