Buckeye Snapshots (Issue #3)

This is the third post of a relatively new feature here at Big Sky Buckeye.  Every couple of months or so different snapshots about the Buckeye State of Ohio will be featured.

Ohio uses a number of nicknames.  Many people have heard of the “Buckeye” state, but fewer know some of its other nicknames.

Declared by the U.S. Congress in 2003, Ohio is also known as the “Birthplace of Aviation.”  Four noteworthy Ohioans have stood out for their individual contributions to American aviation.

Many people know of the inventive brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright (1867-1912 and 1871-1948).  Growing up in Dayton, this tandem worked hard to earn a living from their bicycle business, but they were dreaming of more.  Their ambitions credited them with inventing and flying the first aircraft in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  In winning a coin toss, Orville took the controls of the plane on this historic flight.

Few people may know of the top fighter ace from World War I, Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973).  Born in Columbus, this daring aviator earned 26 aerial victories during the Great War.  Being nicknamed “Fast Eddie,” this man seemed destined for greatness.  For his war exploits, he was awarded the American military’s Medal of Honor.  Later in life, he experienced more success as a race car driver, automotive designer, and airline executive. 

On the left:  the Wright brothers.  On the right:  Captain Eddie Rickenbacker.  (Photos courtesy of Pinterest)

One of the most recognized of the early American astronauts was John Glenn (1921-2016).  Hailing from New Concord, he flew as a U.S. Marines fighter pilot in World War II (57 combat missions) and the Korean War (63 combat missions).  Following his military service in Korea, Glenn served as a fighter test pilot.  Little did he know that this step in his aviation career would open a door to outer space.  Selected as one of NASA’s original seven astronauts, he orbited the earth three times in 1962 aboard the Friendship 7 space flight in a Mercury capsule.

Any discussion about Ohio’s aviation pioneers would not be complete without including Neil Armstrong (1930-2012).  From his hometown of Wapakoneta, Armstrong would bring a well-rounded resume to his training in NASA’s second group of astronauts.  The Korean War veteran served as a naval aviator and test pilot.  Following Armstrong’s successful Gemini 8 mission, he was groomed to make the historic moon landing on July 20, 1969 with Buzz Aldrin.  As he stepped onto the moon’s surface, his words still resonate even today:  “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

On the left:  John Glenn.  On the right:  Neil Armstrong.  (Photos courtesy of Pinterest)

Each of these Americans played an important role in the development of aviation in the United States, taking us from the first flight to landing man on the moon.  Outside of Dayton stands the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which is also home to the world’s oldest and largest military aviation museum—National Museum of the United States Air Force. 

The sheer number of exhibits is overwhelming, but here is a very brief sample.  Follow this link to the museum website.

  • Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress (the infamous Memphis Belle)
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress (this bomber dropped the second and final atomic bomb over Japan to end World War II)
  • Boeing 707 (recognized by call sign “Air Force One” for Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon)
  • Apollo 15 Command Module Endeavour (later the name “Endeavour” is used for one of NASA’s space shuttles)

Buckeye Snapshots (Issue #2)

This is the second post of a relatively new feature here at Big Sky Buckeye.  Every couple of months or so different snapshots about the Buckeye State of Ohio will be featured.

The month of October brings images of bountiful harvests and the pumpkin patch as found in the memorable comic strip “Peanuts.”  In central Ohio, the month also means the annual Circleville Pumpkin Show is approaching.

The Pride of Pickaway County is billed as the “Greatest Free Show on Earth.”  Sadly, this year’s celebration has been cancelled because of Covid-19, but let’s still check out this festive event.

“The Pumpkin Show” was first held in October, 1903.  From its humble beginnings, it started out primarily with displays of corn fodder as well as pumpkins cut out as Jack-o-Lanterns.  Now the show has grown into the sixth largest festival in the United States.

This outdoor mural, which celebrates the founding of the Pumpkin Show, is located in downtown Circleville on the side of an office building.

Yearly features include traditional favorites:

  • Parades (a total of seven)
  • Miss Pumpkin Show
  • Little Miss Pumpkin Show
  • Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest
  • Local and Regional Entertainment

Over four days and nights, nearly 400,000 people attend, with free admission.  Circleville, with a population of about 14,000, really pulls together to make this event the success which it has become.  The annual celebration has been continuously held every year except for three years during World War II.

Remaining photographs courtesy of Pinterest.

Numerous contests are organized every year around a harvest theme as well as the star of the show . . . pumpkins!

  • Art Show
  • Baked Goods
  • Flower Show
  • Canned Goods
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Home Arts and Crafts

The show begins on the third Wednesday of October and runs through Sunday.  Local community groups and charities provide food vendors as a way to raise funds for their causes.  If a person wants something uniquely made with pumpkin, he or she has come to the right place.

Buckeye Snapshots

Remnants of the towpath of the Ohio and Erie Canal near the community of Groveport. Along the right side of the path, the canal channel is overgrown with trees. Ironically, an active railroad track runs to the left of the path.

This is the inaugural post of a new feature here at Big Sky Buckeye.  Every couple of months or so different snapshots about the Buckeye State of Ohio will be presented.

This famous song has been sung by young school children in America since the early 1900s.  Perhaps a few readers remember singing these familiar lyrics:

I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

She’s a good old worker and a good old pal

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

The “Erie Canal Song” serves as an introduction to the Ohio and Erie Canal, which connected Lake Erie (along Ohio’s northern border) with the Ohio River (along its southern flank). 

The canal was constructed years before railroads would arrive so it provided an effective and cheaper way to ship business products and agricultural goods over longer distances.

Leaving Lake Erie near Cleveland, the canal ran through a series of valleys which dot much of the eastern and central part of the state.  Covering a total of 308 miles, the canal proceeded through the river valleys of Cuyahoga, Muskingum, Licking, and Scioto.  Once it reached the Scioto River south of present-day Columbus, barge traffic used the Scioto River on its way to Portsmouth on the Ohio River.

The canal was constructed between 1825 and 1832 (the Erie Canal was finished in 1825).  Construction costs ran about $10,000 per mile.

By the 1850s, railroads arrived upon the scene, and their efficiency and lower costs brought about the eventual demise and decline of the canal systems in Ohio and other regions of the nation.

There is significant evidence of the canal today across many areas of Ohio.  A curious traveler should be on the lookout for:

CANAL ROUTE

The route of the Ohio and Erie Canal can be traced from northeastern Ohio (at Lake Erie) through central Ohio southward toward the Ohio River.

LOCKS

In the village park at Lockville are a series of locks. Pictured is Lock #13, which is in the best shape. Locks were used to raise or lower the boat as needed due to changes in elevation along the canal route.
This well-preserved lock is found near the Groveport Recreational Center. Lock #22 is easy to find along Groveport Road.

There are numerous websites with additional information.  If one searches for “Ohio and Erie Canal,” much more information is available as well as interesting destinations along the former route of the canal.  There are numerous locations with additional locks, towpaths, and former canal channels.  Many places offer parks, walking and hiking trails, and canoeing.