Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
Region offers day trip options
By William Kincaid
The Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen now features the world's largest hig. . .
From the site of one of the nation's worst military defeats to the domed splendor of an air and space museum, there's plenty to do this summer in Mercer and Auglaize counties.
Several reasonably-priced day trips exist for families to learn about the area's robust historical contributions to the nation.
"We highlight the fact that we are a rural, laid-back kind of area and community," Donna Grube, director of the Auglaize and Mercer Counties Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. "We take it for granted, but folks who come from the city appreciate that."
Fort Recovery State Museum
The museum at 1 Fort Site St. is the site of two of the most dramatic Indian battles in American history. The facility features one of the largest collections of Native American Indian artifacts in Ohio and has been visited by people from all across the globe, including a recent sojourn by a professor and students from the University of Oulu, Finland.
The historic exhibits were renovated in 2010 in an effort to better tell both sides of the U.S/Indian Wars. Bill Mahon, head of exhibit designs at the Ohio Historical Society, has said the exhibits represent "the perfect storm of different cultures."
On the grounds are two reconstructed blockhouses, a connecting stockade and the Greenville Treaty Line marker. A 103-foot-tall monument stands in honor of the 900-plus soldiers who died at the site, and an oak tree stands at the site to remember the Native Americans who also died. Other attractions include a log home, blacksmith shop, historical walkway and a state park.
Museum director Nancy Knapke sets up scholars, historians, authors and other dignitaries to speak about the impact of Fort Recovery on American history, various battles, the lives of early American soldiers and more.
This summer is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
June 10, 1 and 3 p.m. - Auburn University Professor of History Adam Jortner, the author of "Gods of Prophetstown: The Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier."
July 8, 3 p.m. - Ashley Phlipot, historical interpreter for Fort Meigs, will speak about the role of Fort Meigs in the War of 1812.
Aug. 5, 3 p.m. - Frank Kuron, author of "Thus Fell Tecumseh," will speak about Tecumseh's fight and death.
Sept. 16, 3 p.m. - Harold Youmans, contributor to the six-volume "Encyclopedia of the War of 1812."
The speaker series is free. Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $2 for children and free for children ages 5 and under.
It is open noon-5 p.m. seven days a week June through August. Tours can be scheduled by appointment at other times by calling 419-375-4649. For more information, go to www.fortrecoverymuseum.com
Armstrong Air & Space Museum, Wapakoneta
Located along Interstate 75 (exit 111), the museum is named in honor of astronaut and Wapakoneta native Neil Armstrong. The facility, opened in 1972, chronicles the Ohioan's contribution to the history of flight and features a real moon rock and the Gemini VIII spacecraft.
A huge new sign placed last year on the outside of the museum on I-75 has helped draw visitors, Grube said.
Also new is a midnight movie series featuring classic sci-fi from the '50s, Japanese monster movies and the occasional recent release, all projected on a 56-foot diameter theater. Museum director Chris Burton said most movies will be shown on the first Saturday of every month. Future selections include "A Trip to the Moon" and "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," a movie that has become a Christmas tradition for Burton's family.
"It's a fantastic venue for teens and college students or anyone looking for something to do after-hours," he said.
The theater opens at 11:30 p.m. Saturdays. Movie admission is $1, and popcorn, candy and sodas can be purchased.
Other events planned for this summer at the museum include:
• June 2 - Eric Baumgartner will discuss his experience as a member of the NASA Mars Rover team and talk about engineering careers at 7 p.m.
• July 19-22 - The 43rd anniversary of man's first steps on the moon will be celebrated during the Summer Moon Festival, which will include rides, games, rocket launch demonstrations, vintage baseball games and other activities.
• Aug. 6-10 - Space Camp returns for a second summer. Participants will launch model rockets, create their own mission patch and write original stories of space exploration.
• Aug. 25 - The KAPOW car and craft show will be held 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
The museum is open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors age 60 and older and $4 for children aged 6-12. Group, AAA, student and senior discounts are available.
Call 419-738-8811 or 800-860-0142 for more information or go to www.armstrongmuseum.org
Bicycle Museum of America, New Bremen
The museum, 7 West Monroe St., is the largest in the world dedicated to the history of cycling. It opened in 1997 and features more than 300 bicycles, including more than 160 from the former Schwinn Museum in Chicago. A large Civil War flag that was made by the women of New Bremen in the 1860s for the 37th Ohio Infantry Company C is on display.
The museum recently acquired on loan the world's largest high-wheeled bike.
"Made by Pope Manufacturing in 1886 in Hartford, Conn., (now the Columbia Bicycle Company), it has a 64-inch front wheel," a museum press release says. "Paul Niquette, an industrialist from Connecticut who stands 6 feet, 5 inches tall, was looking for a high wheel he could ride. Spending his life saving, Niquette obtained the 64-inch Colombia May 9, 1976. Mr. Niquette has appeared in over 60 parades and was featured along with his bicycle on the numerous television shows including the 'Today Show.' "
Summer hours beginning in June are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m-2 p.m. Saturdays.
Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors age 60 and over and $1 for children.
Call 419-629-9249 for more information or go to www.bicyclemuseum.com
• Shanes Crossing, 151 East Columbia St., Rockford, can be accessed during normal business hours.
• Mercer County Historical Museum, 130 E. Market St., Celina. The facility is open by appointment only; call historical society president Joyce Alig at 419-678-2614.
• Auglaize County Historical Society Daniel Mooney Museum, 223 S. Main St., St. Marys, 1-4 p.m. the first, third and fifth Sundays from March through November. Call Rachel Barber at 419-738-9328 for tours.
• Wapakoneta Museum, 206 W. Main St., 1-4 p.m. the first, third and fifth Sundays from March through November. Call Rachel Barber at 419-738-9328 for tours.
• New Bremen Historical Museum, 122 N. Main St., 2-4 p.m. Sundays, June through August. Tours can be arranged by calling Tom Braun at 419-629-8902.
• Minster Historical Museum, 112 W. Fourth St., Minster. Call 419-628-4600 for hours.
National Marian Shrine of the Holy Relics, Maria Stein
The shrine, located at 2291 St. Johns Road, Maria Stein, contains more than 1,000 relics of the saints and is the second largest collection of its kind in the U.S. Built in 1890, the shrine and adjacent former convent building were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
The Heritage Museum is located on the second floor of the former convent building and interprets the German settlements of southern Auglaize and Mercer counties and the history of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. Special displays also describe the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches. Tours are self-guided unless arranged otherwise.
Hours for the National Marian Shrine of the Holy Relics and the Heritage Museum are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays with guided tours by appointment by calling 419-925-4532.
Mercer County Courthouse
Forty-foot Corinthian columns grace the four entrances of the gray Bedford limestone courthouse in the heart of downtown Celina. Its open interior is enhanced with large bronze doors, marble floors, walls and staircases. Visitors can climb the ornate, winding staircase to view the rotunda below or look upward to see the colored, stained glass dome, which was restored with new paint, gold leaf and leading in the glass in 2001. The first and second floors received new paint and gold leaf, and wall murals were restored in 2002. The building celebrated its 75th birthday in 1998.
Call 419-586-3178 to schedule group tours.
Auglaize County Courthouse
The 1884-built courthouse is closed for extensive renovations and should reopen late summer or early fall of this year. The neoclassical building is made of Berea sandstone and is located in the heart of downtown Wapakoneta.
Belle of St. Marys canal boat and canal towpath, St. Marys
A full-scale replica of a packet canal boat measuring 76-by-14-feet rests on the waters of the Miami & Erie Canal in Memorial Park in downtown St. Marys. Built by local craftsmen, the Belle can be visited any time.
Also in the park is the covered bridge that spans the St. Marys River, which flows through the park. The bridge was completed through a volunteer effort in 1992. The 1,200 bricks that line the pathway of the east side of the bridge identify local veterans who served in one of the nation's wars.
The 3.5-mile towpath is a trail that starts at Memorial Park and ends at Forty Acre Pond just north of the city of St. Marys.
Lockkeeper's House, New Bremen
The reconstructed lockkeeper's house/visitor's center opened last year at the northeast corner of Washington and Plum streets in New Bremen along the Miami & Erie Canal. The building houses various memorabilia, historical facts and information surrounding the canal. The office of the Southwest Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce, representing the villages of New Bremen, New Knoxville and Minster, is housed in the building. Hours are 9-11 a.m. and 1-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Visitor information is available.