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Tuesday
May292007

Wandering Around Ohio

ohio_flag[1].jpgWhere can you find Texas, California, Idaho, Oregon, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Wyoming? Where can you travel to Africa, Ceylon, Congo, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, England, Germany, Greenland, Ireland, Mexico, Lebanon, Peru, Poland and Scotland? Where can you visit famous places like Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Calcutta, Delhi, Dublin, London, Geneva, Moscow, Lima, Lisbon, Paris, Rome, Venice and Windsor? O, Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Santa Fe and Long Beach?

Would you like to travel to lesser-known destinations? Try Best, Big Onion, Buckeye Furnace, Brilliant, Businessburg, Busy Corners, Candy Town, Chagrin Falls, Charm, Crooksville, Delightful, Dull, Enterprise, Felicity, Geography Hall, Getaway, Happy Corners, Henpeck Corners, Honesty, Ink, Joy, Killbuck, Kinnikinnick, Modest, No Name, Polkadotte, Pigtown, Purity, Round Bottom, Shyville, Straitsville, Success, Toots Corners, Truetown, Utopia, Welcome or Zumbrum Corners.

Bible scholars may want to visit Ai, Berea , Canaan , Corinth , Damascus , Dorcas, Gomer, Hebron , Jericho , Jerusalem , Mt. Gilead , Mt. Nebo , Mt. Pigsah , Mt. Sinai , Mt. Zion , Rehoboth, Zoar, Nineveh , New Jerusalem, Paradise , Alpha and Omega. Watch out for Defiance , Devil Town , Knockemstiff, Liars Corner, Hells Corners, Revenge, Smoky Corners, Sodom Corners, Spanker, Stryker and Tick Ridge.

In the mood for color? Go to Yellowtown, Greentown, Redtown, Pink, Orange , Olive Green, Blue Ash, Black Run, Whitehouse or Brownstown. In some other kind of mood? Visit Alert, Amity, Funk, Coolville, Socialville, or Tranquility. If you’re hungry, Apple, Bacon Flat, Grape Grove, Chili, Tobasco, Sugarcreek or Dairy may look inviting to you. Are you patriotic? Visit Constitution, Independence , Liberty , Freedom, Republic, Flag, Gettysburg , Victory Camp or Uniontown.

Feel silly? Go to Blowville, Bobo, Bono, Dodo, Fleatown, Fly, Lickskillet or Twightwee. You won’t find any ones or twos, but you can go to Three Forks, Four Corners, Five Points, Six Mile Stand, Seven Hills, Twelve Corners, Fifteen, Sixteen Mile Stand, Seventeen, or Twenty Mile Stand. However, if you speak Spanish, you can visit Uno. Just not sure where you want to go? Try Novelty or Sampletown.

Maybe you’d like to tour the birthplaces of Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes, Warren G. Harding, William Howard Taft, Benjamin Harrison, William T. McKinley, James A. Garfield and Ulysses S. Grant. Or, William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip T. Sheridan, Thomas A. Edison, Wilbur and Orrville Wright, Michael J. Owens, Harvey Samuel Firestone, Neil A. Armstrong, Eddie Rickenbacker, Clark Gable and Paul Newman. You’ll find all these places, and much more, in the state of Ohio .

I first began to wander around Ohio as an evangelist, in the early 1970’s. I was from a state north of here, so I was used to the Native American names in Ohio , like Mingo Junction, Tuscarawas, Chillicothe , Coshocton and Miami . But places with names like New Straitsville, Crooksville, Zanesville and Gallipolis seemed strange to me. Regardless of the spot on the map, however, I found warm, unassuming people, rolling hills and a relaxed atmosphere in each of these quaint towns, and my love for them all has never diminished.

Some twenty-five years later, after locating in Toledo , the ministers of Ohio asked me to serve as their District Superintendent. Once again, I found myself roaming Ohio ’s intriguing countryside and populous cities. The state has an abundance of both, but the same down-to-earth spirit runs seamlessly throughout as a common trait. Whether I’m on High Street in Columbus or Line Street in Minerva, I feel at home.

I doubt if anyone can find a more culturally rich, diversely engaged, historically significant, strategically located, economically powerful or delightfully peopled state in the union than Ohio . This is not an overstatement. Whether it’s history, industry, culture, transportation, business or personality, Ohio stands at America ’s forefront. Celebrating 200 years of statehood in 2003, Ohio became the symbol of expansion at the turn of the nineteenth century. The tragedies of massacre, triumphs of the space age, towering successes of the sports world and turning points of major wars may be traced to Ohio ’s lands and people.

Important historical events in Native American tribes took place in Ohio . Powerful leaders such as Tecumseh and Blue Jacket called this their home. The tribes of the Iroquois, Huron, Wyandot, Ottawa , Shawnee , Mingo , Delaware and Miami spread out along the lakes and rivers of Ohio . The closest this nation ever came to a major conflict with Native Americans transpired in the forests and valleys of Ohio .

From coalmines to steel mills, from rubber to glass, from aeronautics to Abrams tanks, from pottery to the Internet, from automobile assembly plants to soap, from oil refineries to spark plugs, Ohio has enjoyed national prominence or leadership in industry. A significant number Fortune 500 companies call Ohio home.

Once cannot recount the history of this nation without the mention of Ohio, whether it be in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the Erie Canal, Commodore Perry’s victory over the British on Lake Erie or General Anthony Wayne’s victory over a coalition of Native American tribes at Fallen Timbers. During the Civil War, Ohio became a hotbed of anti-slavery activity and hosted an elaborate Underground Railroad system. Among the many famous Ohioans are eight presidents of the United States . Two renowned astronauts, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong came from Ohio , twenty-three in all, more than any other state. Inventors Thomas A. Edison and the Wright brothers were from Ohio . So were famous sports figures like Jack Nicklaus, Pete Rose, Bobby Knight and Jerry Lucas, as well as screen stars like Clark Gable and Paul Newman. Trivia buffs may delight in the following Ohio inventions: pliofilm, paper bag, Freon, Formica, gallon milk jug, Crisco, Quaker oats, Play Dough, disposable diapers, vacuum cleaner, step ladder, liquid crystal display, tubeless tires, windshield wipers, and shock absorbers.

I’ve always believed that one will find what he or she looks for, even if the search takes a little (or a lot) longer than expected. Those who look for a spiritual message interspersed between Ohio ’s city streets and industrial zones, one-horse towns and courthouse squares, Amish buggies and Serpentine mounds will be delightfully rewarded. The stories of these hardy, Midwestern people choreographed out in faith, love and hope, or pain, suffering and tragedy coalesce into inspirational messages for fellow travelers in Ohio , and beyond. These fascinating tidbits transcend dates and places, and demonstrate the interconnectedness that bonds one human spirit to another.

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