This weekend I got up to the RoadQueen's neck of the woods in Wayne County Ohio. It's been a goal of mine for a long time to explore different rail trails around my state. On Sunday we got to do just that when we took our bicycles to the aptly named County Line Trail; A seven mile paved multi-use trail, which runs between Creston and Rittman, Ohio along the northern edge of Wayne County. The RoadQueen had never been on this path but she knew about it through her Horseman's club which was involved in the planning and construction a few years ago. Exploring by bicycle is great fun and this ride gave us an opportunity to go somewhere together neither of us had even been.
One thing I like about rail trails is they usually always follow old railroad right of ways. Railroad infrastructure from bygone eras can be found easily enough if one takes the time to look around. I spotted this old iron signal tower slowly rusting away but still standing proud and tall.
Another characteristic of rail trails is their inherent flatness. Railroad grades were engineered and routes chosen following the flattest contours of the country. Rail lines often wind along river valleys using the paths of least resistance provided by nature so locomotives could pull the tremendous weight of heavily loaded train cars. Sure riding a long straight path can get monotonous but the previous day the RoadQueen and I rode a 17 mile loop around the hilly countryside near her home so the effortless spin along the flats on this ride were welcome!
Our first stop was about mid point along the trail at a small village called Sterling. Pictured above is the Sterling Depot. This building was a B & O freight depot that was purchased and renovated by the Wayne County rails to trails group.
Continuing on we shortly arrived at the eastern terminus of the trail in the town of Rittman.
The Rittman Depot was converted into a restaurant.
One of this little town's claims to fame is the Rittman facility of the Morton Salt Company. In business for over 100 years this salt processing operation employs 200 people and produces a wide variety of culinary and water softening salts.
While I'm sure this facility has undergone many changes and upgrades over the years early 20th century brickwork and masonry is plainly visible. In the following picture pallets of water softener salt are neatly stacked outside of a large brick warehouse. In the background the Morton Salt logo is visible painted on another building.
Here's an interesting link about the the history of the "Morton Salt Umbrella Girl".
Since we had only been on our bikes a short time we decided to meander around Rittman and see what else we could discover and maybe find a little place for some lunch. Rounding a corner we came upon an American Legion post and this iconic piece of American military heavy metal.
The M4 Sherman was the main battle tank built by the United States for armored combat in World War Two. This particular model was built in 1947. I parked the Ti General Purpose bike beside for a sense of scale.
Next we saw a small sign showing the way to the Rittman Pioneer Memorial Cemetery. There was no way we could consider our visit complete without checking that out! At the top of a small hill we found this beautiful old restored home that now houses the Rittman Historical Society. In the foreground is an old bell over a granite millstone.
Behind the house we parked our bikes and found the Pioneer Cemetery with some very old graves.
What an idyllic and peaceful place for a cemetery.
Martin Fritz 1750- 1844
First permanent white settler in Milton Twp 1814
Veteran of 1776
Wow! A veteran of 1776. You don't see that very often.
Bicycles are many things to different people; A mode of simple transportation, A toy, fitness equipment, passion and art. Another thing I like to add to the list is "time machine". I love to use my bike to explore the history of places around my home state. And better than any textbook, TV program or Internet search a bicycle can transport you to the actual history and rub your nose right in it.