Friday Night Drive

Not every day can be fun. However, I think it’s possible to add something to every day that makes it interesting, fun or worthwhile.

After work yesterday, I hit the road to run some errands in Athens County. Along the way, I took a few turns onto some roads I have never traveled just to see where they go and to see what I might see.

It’s one of my favorite things to do, you know.

I liked this small barn in a bend in the road.

I agree with this sign. Trapping drunks seems smart to me. Sadly, this sign represents a neighborhood feud that you can read about here.

This barn was striking against the vibrant sky and grass. I like the lines and this scene makes me think that summer isn’t far off.

Friends, not every day can be a great day. But, if you can, do whatever is possible to make it a better day.

Gardens And Grounds At Adena

Earlier this week we visited historic Adena Mansion and Gardens where I told you about the home and the people who lived there. The house tour is interesting but I also thoroughly enjoy simply walking the grounds.

Mrs Worthington’s flower garden was beginning to show signs of life with tulips, bluebells and other spring beauties.

I spent a fair amount of time standing amongst the lilacs, simply absorbing the aroma of spring.

There are trails as well as a couple of important buildings to explore. My favorite of these has always been the barn and I typically dwell here.

There are a handful of artifacts kept here.

The actual barn is the showstopper though.

Here’s a view from the door onto the property.

If you’re in the area and enjoy history, this place is well worth the price of admission. They tell important stories here, stories that we would lose if not for historic sites like Adena. Read more about this place by clicking here.

Grandma Gatewood Day

Note: I promised you some more photos from the grounds of Adena Mansion and Gardens today. I lied. Here’s a story that I want to share instead. We’ll go back to Adena tomorrow.

One of my personal heroes is a woman who died before I was even born. She was known simply as Grandma Gatewood and this is Grandma Gatewood Day in Ohio.

Emma “Grandma” Gatewood was a legendary hiker and the first woman to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. The 2,168 mile trail runs from Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. She did it solo and in one season.

That was in 1955 when she was 67 years old.

Read that again.

She was 67 years old and had never done anything like it. In fact, she reared 11 children in rural Gallia County, Ohio and was a domestic violence survivor before she ever even heard of the Appalachian Trail.

Grandma Gatewood went on to be the first person to hike the Appalachian Trail three times and she hiked 2,000 miles of the Oregon Trail. She inspired the creation of the Buckeye Trail here in Ohio.

Let me tell you something, friends. Grandma Gatewood was tough as nails and she was smart. While she only completed the eighth grade, she was an avid learner and a poet. She knew how to live off the land and knew which wild plants could be used for food or medicine. She survived an abuser.

When she hiked the Appalachian Trail, Grandma Gatewood wore Keds tennis shoes and carried only what she really required in a denim sack she sewed herself. She carried a shower curtain for protection rather than a tent. She had told her children that she was going for a walk but didn’t mention where to or how long it would take.

Let’s stop here for a second. Have you seen hikers today? They require all kinds of expensive gear, technology, clothes and boots but still struggle to make this strenuous journey. Heck, a lot of them carry all that crap for a short hike. Grandma Gatewood did over 2,000 miles with a handmade sack and some worn out tennis shoes. She did go through several pairs but still…..

Newspapers picked up her story as did Sports Illustrated. She was even a guest on the Today Show. Hers was a household name for a while in this country.

When I hike my local trails in the Hocking Hills, I frequent a trail that’s named in her honor. This hike is one that I always approach with reverence because I feel a connection with this amazing lady who proved that age, gender, education and social status are not limitations if you work hard and are determined enough.

Beginning in January 1967, Grandma Gatewood began leading a six mile winter hike in the Hocking Hills that continues as an annual tradition to this day. She died in 1973 at the age of 85 leaving behind dozens of descendants and a legacy for hikers of any age.

This is just a bird’s eye view of this incredible woman. If you are interested in knowing more, please pick up a copy of Ben Montgomery’s Grandma Gatewood’s Walk. It is widely available through major booksellers and is one of my favorite books of all time.

At the end of the Appalachian Trail in Maine, hikers sign a register to mark their accomplishment. She reportedly sang the first verse of “America the Beautiful” as she signed the book. Then she announced “I did it. I said I’d do it and I’ve done it.”

What a great end to an incredible journey.

Adena Mansion and Gardens

As part of Saturday’s Tourist In My Own Backyard adventure, I revisited Adena Mansion and Gardens. This historic site in Chillicothe, Ohio was the home of one of Ohio’s founding fathers.

Thomas Worthington came from a background of neglect before becoming a politician, a surveyor and a businessman. He is most famous as Ohio’s sixth governor. He also platted the nearby town of Logan, Ohio. He advocated for public education, opposed the War of 1812, opposed slavery and established the State Library of Ohio.

His legacy is vast and impressive.

Completed in 1807, Adena was designed by famed architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Our tour guide said it is one of just three Latrobe houses left standing in the country.

The sandstone was quarried on the property and I imagine that the wood for the house and furniture was cut there as well.

I was lucky to catch a tour with just two other people. To provide some perspective, the tour after mine was so big they had to split it up into two groups.

After a lifetime of periodically taking this tour, it still surprises me that I learn something new every visit. Our tour guide this time is a high school French teacher and she did a great job of telling the story, weaving together the human stories with the historic events.

I learned that Thomas Worthington was a notorious cheapskate. I knew that there were many instances in this house where faux techniques were used to fake mahogany and marble. This was done partly out of practicality because shipping in marble across the wilderness was expensive. It was also done partly because Thomas Worthington simply didn’t like to spend money. You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside so you’ll have to take my word for it that the marble faked with a turkey feather is pretty convincing.

There are also many interesting tidbits about the Worthington family that you’ll learn along the way. For example, Thomas and Eleanor Worthington had ten children and all lived to adulthood, an impressive feat for that time. One daughter, Sarah, opened Philadelphia’s School of Design For Women in 1848. That school still exists today as Moore College of Art and Design.

If you pay attention on the tour, you will find it thought provoking. It always makes me shudder to think what it was like for Mrs Worthington to leave civilization to come to the Ohio Territory and set up housekeeping. Their first home on this property was a log cabin and was about an hour walk from town.

Here’s a fun fact. From the hilltop where Worthington built his home, inspiration was found to create the Ohio State Seal. They have a pull off where you can stop and enjoy the view. It looks a lot different today but it’s still an important piece of Ohio history.

Some significant events and conversations took place here. Henry Clay was such a frequent guest there’s a bedroom named in his honor. Shawnee Chief Tecumseh visited here along with Blue Jacket, Roundhead and Panther. Tecumseh presented Thomas Worthington a tomahawk with the promise that he would never lift his tomahawk to him in battle. This meaningful artifact can be viewed in the museum on site.

Sadly, some members of the Worthington family fell on hard times and the home was in bad shape by the time it was sold to another family. You see, it had been left vacant for several years and local farmers used the home to store hay and to keep their chickens. It was sold at the turn of the 20th century to another family that adapted the house into a summer home. It began operating as a tourist attraction in the fifties. Restoration projects over the years have revived the home to reflect how it would have appeared when the Worthingtons lived there.

In addition to the house tour, there’s a museum, some outbuildings and trails to walk. My favorite spot is a toss up between the old barn and the garden. Admission is just $10 for an adult. Watch their online calendar or follow them on Facebook for special events. You can even host your own event or wedding here.

Ready to visit or learn more? There’s a ton of history available on the Adena Mansion and Gardens website. Tomorrow I will show you some pictures from the grounds.