Did you know hidden among rolling hills and curved roads of Tuscarawas County, Ohio are historical gems? I had booked my son, Sam for a youth blacksmithing class at a place called Zoar Historic Village. As I was looking for a place to stay overnight I started to see these little known places begin to show up on my map, places like, Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, The Warther Museum and Gardens, Fort Laurens and the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath. All these locations were within minutes of one another and before I knew it, I had begun planning a historical adventure for the weekend for the kids and I.
I called the Tuscararwas CVB and spoke to the Executive Director, Dee Grossman because I did not have a lot of time to plan my adventure and needed some people who were “in the know” for advice. I wanted a family friendly hotel, the best way to hit all the museums in a timely manner and they were able to point me to the right direction. The Tuscarawas CVB is a great place to stop before you head out on your family adventure. They have free coffee and tea, bathrooms and LOTS of great information. The staff here are friendly and ready to help you plan your time in the area.
Our first stop was to at the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum in Dennision, Ohio. When you pull up you might think, “This looks really small!” Looks can be deceiving because they have an amazing museum, FULL of information, artifacts and interactive areas for kids. We met up with our tour guide, and as we entered the depot museum it felt like we had entered a time warp and headed back in time. You could almost feel the bustling and jostling of people and the sounds of the railway as you wander around the first room. The restored stained glass windows and railroad paraphernalia were fantastic.
After you finish your time in the main building you head into the part of museum that is housed in train cars. The kids and I were surprised how much they were able to display here. Seriously, they have made their space work for them! One thing I really must give them HIGH marks for is the interactive activities they have for kids. They actually WELCOME your children and want them to experience the Depot to the fullest.
The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum has train rides in the fall for foliage tours and a Polar Express train ride at Christmas. We have not taken any of these excursions but they do look marvelous! Maybe we will make the trip there this winter?
Our hotel for the evening was the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in New Philadelphia, Ohio. I had been looking for a family friendly hotel and this one hit the mark on every level. The room we had was large, with 2 queen beds and a pull out couch. This is enough space for the family to spread out and relax! The pool area was GREAT! It had water buckets, a water umbrella and shooting water over top of the pool. My kids spent hours there and by the time they were done, they were ready to crash in bed! (Tired kids = BONUS for mom!) Holiday Inn Express offers an amazing breakfast, including hot items, cold items, juices, and fruit. The highlight were the Cinnabons for the kids! This is a PERFECT place to stay with your family if you need a hotel.
Sam’s class at Zoar Village started at 8 am in the morning so we were up and out of the hotel and exploring early. After dropping Sam off, the rest of us headed to The Warther Museum and Gardens. I did not know what to expect at a wood carving museum.
The Warther Museum and Gardens did not disappoint. We met with Julie, our tour guide, and got a bit of background before we started. How can I begin to tell you about this museum? It is breathtaking, unexpected and thought-provoking. Breathtaking because the carvings take your breath away, they are exquisite. Unexpected because it blows your expectations out of the water. Thought provoking because Mooney’s work ethic and personality cause you to think about what you are doing with your life and time.
I honestly struggle to write this section of my blog because I don’t have the adequate words to tell you about this amazing place. I’ve been to many museums in my life time, but this one left me astounded. You need to come here for yourself and experience it.
We were hungry after our tour and we headed to the Zoar village to eat at the Canal Tavern of Zoar. This was a neat place to eat and offered food choices that go along with the history of the Zoar Village. I did not love it but Abbie did. If you want food that is authentic to the village, give it a try.
“Zoar Village was founded in 1817 by a group of over 200 German Separatists seeking escape from religious persecution in their homeland. These Separatists thrived as a unique society for more than 80 years, making Zoar Village one of the most successful communal settlements in American history. Today, Zoar Village is made up of approximately 75 families living in homes built from 1817 to the present. Visit us to tour the museum buildings, see early American architecture, and enjoy the quaint village scenery.” Zoar Village website.
We had a great time renting bikes and riding around the village touring the structures and learning about the history. We were able to get through the village fairly quickly because the crowds were small. My favorite stop was the bakery!
Abbie and I still had some time to go do a few more things before Sam’s class was done so we headed over to Fort Laurens, which was a short drive from Zoar. As always, I realize how very little I know about Ohio history when I come to small nondescript places like Fort Laurens. You can explore the site of Ohio’s only Revolutionary War fort, built in 1778 as a wilderness outpost, and visit a museum where it tells the story of soldiers on the frontier. It is a short visit here, but still worth your time.
I don’t think any adventure, even a historical one, is complete without some kind of hike or outdoor time. Here in the middle of all this history is the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. I love imagining what this path would have looked like in the time of canal boats and busy canal commerce. What richness of history the dirt path trail holds within it. You should walk it, like Abbie and I did, and think about the past as you adventure upon the towpath.
Tuscarawas County left me surprised and exhausted, a good exhausted. There is so much to see and do here and so much we did not have time to see. Our family looks forward to heading back this way sometime in the near future because more history and adventure await us in Tuscarawas County, Ohio.
Our tickets to Dennison and Warthers were compensated to us, all opinions in this blog are my own.