Our first trip takes us to the wilds of Columbiana County. Maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration because the tracks and by-ways of this area are hardly unfamiliar to us. In any case, here is the map showing all the markers we hit. We got 17 out of 18, it seems one has disappeared, but more about that later. We also took the liberty of marking two great local haunts for grabbing a quick bite along the way.
Columbiana County was established in 1803 and named after Christopher Columbus and Queen Anne. Its first western visitors date back to Christopher Gist in 1750 and George Washington in 1770. Thomas Hutchins began the first federal land survey in Columbiana County as a result of the land ordinance of 1785. After that, Ohio experienced one of the country’s first expressions of westward expansion with the area that would be Columbiana County as one of the primary points of ingress. Thanks to such expansion, Columbiana County developed as a national center of industry, natural resource production, and local farming. Columbiana has produced such influential figures as Harvey Firestone, Edwin Stauton, and Marcus Alonzo Hanna. Now onto the journey….
Our journey began that fateful day in the hamlet of Columbiana at the Columbiana Diner. We sat at the lunch counter and hashed out our day’s plan over eggs and coffee. Little did we know the historical treasures the day would have in store for us.
We decided to start our marker tour in Hanoverton at #3-15- The Canal Tunnels. This marker represents the Big and Little Tunnels that were part the Sandy and Beaver Canal which connected the Ohio River to the Erie Canal. These tunnels only two years of use, thanks to the expansion of the railroad.
Not too far away from this stop is the small village of Dungannon, which is home to marker #5-15- The Birthplace of Catholicism in Northern Ohio. The original log cabin has been enshrouded by a slightly larger brick building. Above it on the hill sits St. Phillip of Neri Catholic Church. For more information, you can find a detailed historical account of the church and its importance here.
En route to the next marker, one must pass through Lisbon (which is sadly lacking markers on its own). There is however, a great place to grab a bite to eat: The Steel Trolley Diner. This is one of the few remaining authentic trolley diners and is home to award winning burgers (like the Elvis burger), a working jukebox, and delicious milkshakes.
Columbiana County has three covered bridges (and another mentioned) on historical markers. #1-15 was our third stop of the day. It sits on the Eastern outskirts of Lisbon next to the parking lot of Lock 24 and accompanies The Elkton Township Tourism Bureau Museum. The Church Hill Road Bridge has the distinction of being the shortest covered bridge in the U.S. in existence.
Our next maker was not far off, sitting practically in someones front yard on route 518; #2-15 marks Morgan’s Raid- the surrender of General Morgan and his confederate troops to Major Rue, as well as the northern most incursion of Confederate troops in Union territory. Not only is this spot a site for an Ohio Historical Marker, but it is also one of the last stops on Morgan’s Heritage Trail (another road trip?).
Through most of our travels this day we were using state routes and county roads (neither of which had snow on them). I (N) decided that we should take a shortcut to our next stop by cutting up through some township roads. Needless to say, after ten minutes of driving in a corner of the county none of us had ever laid eyes on, I could not seem to find our location on the map. Yeah, that’s right, our sole form of navigation for this outing was a county paper map- most likely older than myself. All we could do was keep heading NE and hope we came out somewhere on Route 7. (We were in the NE corner of Madison Township for anyone familiar with the area.) In the end our driver’s keen sense of direction landed us out on Route 7 at Williamsport (our initial destination). From there, it was no issue to weave our way down into Beaver Creek for our next two markers.
The Thomas J. Malone Bridge/Gaston’s Mill (#7-15) is situated in the heart of Beaver Creek’s Pioneer Village. During summer hours the village comes alive (lol that is what they actually call it): the first Saturday of the month 12-3 p.m.; this includes a lot of demonstrations and history. Visit Friends of Beaver Creek State Park for more information.
The other Beaver Creek area marker is #10-15 located on Sprucevale Road- The Death of Pretty Boy Floyd. It is said that the area was once a farmland, and was the place where the police finally captured and killed famed gangster Pretty Boy Floyd. It has since been brought to our attention that there is a small marker up in the woods signifying the supposed exact spot of his death!
From here you can continue South on 428 until Calcutta, then take 430 SE to reach another marker #4-15-First Paper Mill/Little Beaver Creek Bridge, neither of which are still standing, but the adventurous soul may still find remnants of them or their foundations in the gorge below.
Not far away are two more Ohio markers, and the only National Historic Landmark in Columbiana County. I am of course referring to markers (#4-41 and #9-15). These markers cover the topic of the Land Ordinance of 1785 and Thomas Hutchins’ historic survey of the Seven Ranges in the SE corner of Ohio. This site marks where (or very near to it) he drove his first stake for the survey. The National Historic Marker on this site commemorates the same event. This survey was used as a prototype for most of the remaining U.S. states. Redundantly marker (#9-15) is extremely similar to the info and story found on #4-41 (our current records show that this was the last marker to be put in place).
The next part of our epic journey took us down to the wharf in East Liverpool. It is home to two markers (#16-15-Ohio’s Gateway and #13-15 The Pottery Capital of America). These markers capture the important role the river played in the history and industry of East Liverpool, and are situated on a great park called Broadway Wharf. (I’m sure it would be lovely in the summer, but we couldn’t enjoy it with the snowy weather).
Our last of the many East Liverpool markers was the Riverview Cemetery (#12-15). It is a pretty, well laid out cemetery with a Civil War monument. The monument and accompanying graves are alone worth a visit from the passing history buff. Many notable people are buried there including Sanford Hill, Dick Albright, and Will Thompson among others. (Go ahead and google these interesting folks if you are nerdy like us and want to further your research, and enrich the marker experience.)
We began to head back towards our initial location of the day. On the outskirts of Salem is the small Prussian settled village of Teegarden- home to one of the many bike trails found in the area. There, you will also find #15-15- The Teegarden-Centennial Covered Bridge. The marker notes that at one time there were over 250 covered bridges in the county; this bridge, going across Little Beaver Creek, is one of the only five remaining, but what makes it truly impressive is that it was in use until only about 25 years ago. Check out the pre-renovation photo inside the bridge.
#14-15 is the only marker that is found in Salem proper—the largest city in the county. The house that this marker is attributed to is called the Unserheim (German for “Our Home”). It belonged to one of the most well-known citizens of the town—Daniel Howell Hise. He was a Quaker abolitionist. Hise hosted the likes of Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth in this house. For further study, The Salem Public Library has a file with Hise’s journals, that many locals use for reference.
Columbiana (our next stop) was once home to three markers, but currently there only appears to be two. Prior to our outing, we had gone out to seek the missing marker multiple times to no avail. #6-15- The Firestone Homestead was once standing (we believe) on Route 14 just across from Firestone Farms. There was once a homestead museum in the ‘70s at that location, but the house was moved to the Henry Ford Museum in Deerborn, Michigan. Our best guess is that the marker went with the building or is sitting in a garage somewhere collecting dust. If anyone has any other information on this site and marker please contact us! It would be great to erect the original or a copy near the site!
The remaining Columbiana markers were #8-15- The Log House Museum and #11-15- Harvey Firestone. The first sits at the center of Columbiana, and is operated by the Historical Society of Columbiana and Fairfield Township. The latter site sits in the Columbiana park named after the famed native: Harvey Firestone. Mr. Firestone was not only the founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, but an important philanthropist in the area.
Our last stop that day was just down the road in the village at Leetonia at marker #13-22- Cherry Valley Coke Ovens. (Yeah, this marker, like the #4-41 Land Ordinance, seems to be misnumbered. We are currently trying to communicate with the Ohio History Connection to sort it out.) The coke ovens are an amazing and eerie collection of almost 200 beehive ovens and used to produce coke for the Cherry Valley Iron Works’ furnaces as well as other local iron and steel production sites.
By this time the sun was sinking very low in the sky. Having visited all the markers in Columbiana County, we thought it was time to call it a day. In a small rural county like Columbiana, it’s impressive to find 17 markers, and is a testament to the area’s rich history. Being from the area, we could go on, but it’s probably best to leave it here. To finish—a drive around Columbiana County, taking in all of the historical makers as well as visiting a few local haunts is not only possible, but an enjoyable way to spend a free day in the area.
We hope you continue to follow our blog! Between posts we will also try to be active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so feel free to follow our epic quest through these sites as well. (Find us by searching 1465orbust on your favorite social media platform.) Next up: Lower Mahoning County.
See you at the next marker!
Remarkable Ohio: http://remarkableohio.org/index.php?/category/203