Sunday, September 29, 2013

Heritage Days Festival at Malabar Farm

 Whoo-Hoo Black Powder!

If I'm not burning some off myself second best is watching others do it!  Today Wyatt and I attended the Ohio Heritage Days Festival held annually at Malabar Farm State Park located in north central Ohio.  Malabar Farm is an interesting place to visit in and of itself being an actual working farm managed by the Ohio State Parks.  Once the home and passion of noted author, conservationist and World War One Veteran Louis Bromfield Malabar Farm comes alive once a year with the sights and sounds of history.

These reenactors are demonstrating colonial era firearms. The long gun would commonly rest on the mantle above the fireplace in a colonist's cabin and be called upon regularly to provide food and in times of war serve equally well.

Heritage Days does not concentrate on any one time period but encompasses all of Ohio's past.  Two civil war artillery units were set up firing off these big bruisers every couple hours through the weekend.  Sorry no pictures of the smoke because I had both my hands busy covering my ears.

 I love old engines of all kinds.  On display was a couple engines from the early 1900's.  I would have loved to take some video of these old machines chugging away but I didn't have a video camera along.  About every 5 seconds the cylinder would fire keeping the flywheel spinning.  The metal hose sticking out and bent around the bottom of the photograph is the exhaust pipe.

This is an amazing engine built in Columbus, Ohio. I enjoy just standing beside these old relics and listening to the mechanical music of early single cylinder internal combustion.

As a tool guy and gadget man I found this display very interesting. What an incredible collection of vintage monkey wrenches dating back to the mid 1800's.

The tools that built a nation.

There was lots of other stuff going on around the farm that I didn't get photographs of.  Plenty of crafts and antiques were up for sale. The big house was open and the main barn was housing a large display of  ancient artifacts found in Ohio -arrowheads, spear points, axes and celts. Thousands of primitive weapons and tools from Ohio's prehistoric past.  Also in attendance was RoadQueen's Horseman's Club operating pony rides for the kids.

Although I've visited the farm on numerous occasions I've never been during the Heritage Days Festival. It was very cool and I look forward to checking it out again next year.

Monday, September 23, 2013

County Line Trail -- Creston To Rittman

 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.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

News From W8MDE

I don't do a lot of amateur radio operating over the summer months with the exception of Field Day or the occasional Straight Key Sprint.  At some point in the early summer before Field Day I like to set up my portable station and do a shakedown operating session to make sure everything is working properly with my gear.

In past years I have set up at my father's place up on the shores of Lake Erie or even simply out in my backyard.  This year I drug my station to the RoadQueen's house and we threw up a wire antenna to a big tree in the yard. I set up the transceiver and telegraph key on her coffee table. 

That weekend a special event called the Museum Ships Weekend Event was going on and I hoped to log a contact with one or more stations participating.  I enjoy WW2 history and this event is full of it.  As a history buff and radio enthusiast I find it a very unique experience to communicate with other amateur operators aboard these old naval vessels sometimes even using the ship's original radio equipment.  

My first contact was WW2IND.  Unfortunately the U.S.S. Indianapolis was sunk during the war so the club operating the event was set up near the ship's memorial in the town the ship was named after.  It took a while to receive the QSL card in the mail that confirmed our radio contact but eventually it showed up as a pleasant surprise in my mail box.    

How the second contact came about was a real thrill.  After searching around the band a while listening for ship stations to call and not finding any I settled on a clear frequency to call CQ myself hoping to make contact with any ham station.  After my first call I was promptly answered by a loud and clear signal with the call sign WW2DEM.  Holy Cow! A World War Two destroyer had just answered my CQ call!

Maybe the operator Stan had been calling earlier on the frequency and was taking a break or something and then heard my call coming across the receiver.  As is proper procedure I had listened for a couple minutes when I first arrived on 7.114 MHz to make sure the frequency was not in use so I was surprised when the ship station answered my call so suddenly. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

One-Room School House -- Whetstone Township

Last month I was sad to see an old schoolhouse I've ridden by many times over the years finally give up the ghost.  I took some pictures of the rubble and posted them here.  Shortly after and not far from that location I discovered another schoolhouse I had no idea existed while out on a bike ride.

A.D. 1882

Although this one has seen better days it does have a good roof and the brick work looks sound so I think it will be around awhile yet.  The building sits just 20 feet off the road and is the corner of someones front yard.  As with other schoolhouses the front was opened up at some point and this building was probably used for storage for many years.

I still find it amazing how bright it is inside the building with nothing but the eight tall windows to let in the light.

Schoolhouse #7 is along my new Parcher Road Loop which has turned into one of my favorite local rides so I'll be able to enjoy this cheerful little bit of Ohio history regularly.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cool Bicycle Art

Here's some cool bicycle art on an old tobacco tin from the 1890's.  L.A.W. stands for the League of American Wheelmen.  This was probably the very first cycling advocacy group formed in America and still survives to this day as The League of American Bicyclists.  

At the tail end of the 19th century the L.A.W. had a lot of political power and championed the cause which they called "Good Roads".  At that time the bicycle was undergoing a surge of popularity and roadways were rutted dusty paths at best and virtually impassible quagmires if they were wet.  Today it is a little known fact that bicyclists were responsible for the push to pave roads making travel easier, not the automobile.