So now I understand why the campground was so hard to find last night. As opposed to having an entrance to the park with all the attractions inside it, the park is separated into six separate areas which are named for the attraction, thus Cedar Falls had its own parking lot as did Ash Cave, and the other attractions. I wound around a few 15 mph curves and through falling yellow leaves, to arrive at Cedar Falls for the first hike of the day. The attractions visited today were based on the shortest trails. It was only a 0.5 mile out and back (verified with a local in the parking lot) walk to the falls, albeit mostly steps. Due to the drought, the falls weren’t really falling. The side of the rock was wet…that’s about it. I left Cedar Falls, and stopped at Ash Cave per the lady’s recommendation at the campgrounds. She said it would be a good path to take for someone with a sprained ankle…I’ll say, it was wheelchair accessible, short, and one of the neatest places I’ve been. I’m glad the State of Ohio was able to make this area available to the physically challenged. Moss covered trees lined the path to a giant cave or rock ledge. Many trails led to the rim above too. I’m certain neither my description nor the pictures will give you much of an idea of the grandeur as I was only able to capture a portion of the cave in each photo.
At the end of the trail, I ran into the local that pointed me in the direction of Cedar Falls. He asked if I had walked the 3 mile trail! “Oh, gosh no”, was my reply…”I see you ran the trail though?” Not only did he run that trail, Brad planned on running 8 miles worth of trails before going back to Columbus. He was a criminal defense attorney, who helped kids that mistakenly took a detour in life. Not repeating felons or gang members, but ones that made that one mistake getting into drugs or stealing from their employers. He said to help them, he plucks them out of their environment and gets them involved in the outdoors…sort of like the trip I’m doing. He drives an hour down to this area every Friday for his run and plans on camping with his family at Hocking Hills Park tomorrow.
I drove up and down over some more hills; so steep, that when you pass over the peak, you aren’t sure where the road will be on the
other side and when you look out your rear window, all you see is sky; until I got to Nelsonville. Nelsonville is full of Victorian homes, and its square is home to Stuart’s Opera House and the Dew Hotel which still look almost as they did in the 19th century. I tried “the Best Burger in Town” per the sign outside The Mine Tavern. If the mayonnaise had been Hellman’s instead of Miracle Whip, maybe it would have been! As I walked around the town a bit, a side street on the square had a dive shop…had to take a picture of the red flag with the diagonal white stripe.
The Drive began meandering along the Muskingum River and through river towns that flourished when 10 locks were built from 1837 to 1841 to tame the river for steamboats. I stopped and toured one of the locks outside McConnelsville. Each lock required eight muscle powered, geared winches to open the miter gates. One winch was used to open the gates while a corresponding one was on the opposite lock wall to close the gate, simultaneously.
My final stop on the drive was Marietta, the first American settlement in the Northwest Territory. I stopped at a historic park on the river that displayed the towboat W.P. Snyder, Jr., the oldest pilothouse, and other signs about floods, and the Underground Railroad. From 1812 through 1861, fugitive slaves fleeing toward Canada were aided by descendants of early settlers who operated Underground Railroad Stations along the Muskingum River. Additionally, the first documented African American born in the Northwest Territory, James Davis, was born in Marietta.
The towboat W.P. Snyder was first operated by Carnegie Steel Company and launched in 1918 to push barges and accommodate a crew of 20. It carried no passengers or cargo. Later it was purchased by the Crucible Steel Company of America and would have been scrapped like most others, but the Ohio Historical Society requested that it be preserved and displayed.
The oldest pilothouse, was removed from the steamboat called Tell City which was built in 1889 after it sank in an accident at Little Hocking, Ohio on April 6, 1917. It served as a summer house on the river front lawn of the Bent family. This is the type of pilothouse that Mark Twain (my favorite “classics” author) wrote about.
After last night’s fiasco, I thought instead of passing up offers for a place to stay in Cincinnati, that I should take Page up on her contacts in Columbus, that is nearby the start of the next scenic drive in Lexington, OH. I called two contacts, but one was out of town and the other was out of pocket as I never heard back from her. Around 6:00 or so, I decided to veer off from Columbus and head toward Lexington and hope for a campground. I’ve learned it is much harder to get a spot on the weekend. When my cell service reappeared, my iPhone bleeped with a message. It was Bobby, checking in on me. Being a horse trainer, he knows horse people everywhere, and yes, he knew someone in Columbus. One and a half hours later, I was parked in Kathy’s driveway! I briefly met her before she and her family went to the movie,s and my van is plugged into her garage. I’ll have to keep Bobby posted on my whereabouts…I might be able to reserve a lot of driveways. Hopefully, I’ll get to talk to Kathy a little more tomorrow.