WACO Air Museum

Amazing things can happen when a community unites behind a cause. The power of this sort of commitment can be seen at the WACO Air Museum in Troy, Ohio.

The WACO Aircraft Company was the largest manufacturer of US civil aircraft in the late twenties and early thirties. The museum talks about the planes as well as the people who made the company successful.

This is a fascinating story of American aviation history that’s well told here. It’s not a large museum but everything is high quality and an audio tour available through your smartphone tells stories that supplement the signs.

The museum exists because the community formed the WACO Historical Society in 1978 and set to work gathering stories, photos, planes and artifacts that would eventually be used in this museum.

Personally, I best enjoyed the stories of the people who worked here and seeing the planes as well. Most of the planes are located in a hangar that also has event space. It’s interesting to me the way the planes are gathered around the presentation area. I like the idea that they are active participants in whatever programming goes on here and witness to the museum’s events.

It’s also important to note that the women of this company’s past play a prominent role. From the women who worked in the factory to those who flew the planes, you will notice that they didn’t shy away from giving credit where credit is due.

Want to visit the WACO museum? You should! Click here for hours and admission.

While you’re in the area, be sure to grab something tasty at K’s Hamburger Shop and go for a hike at Aullwood Arboretum.

Blennerhassett In Fall

Yesterday took me to Blennerhassett Island, a state park in West Virginia. I went with friends who had never been there which made the day all the more enjoyable. After all, when you have visited a place many times, it’s pretty neat to see it through someone else’s eyes.

It’s a special place that I been visiting off and on for most of my life and I wrote about it here once. I have some new thoughts to share but for now, I would love to just show you some pictures.

Meet the horses who took us on a wagon ride tour of the island. The one on the right is Sugar and recall that name because I heard it a lot – our tour guide said she’s a bully.

The foliage was amazing and the forest surrounding the mansion positively glowed in the sunlight.

I don’t know why but I always look forward to seeing this room on the mansion tour. The buttery yellow walls, the woman over the mantle who points em toward the bedroom. The built-in cabinets – it all makes me happy.

Their season ends today and the island will be closed until the new season begins in May. The island is home to a magnificent 90 year old walnut grove and is incredibly peaceful. It makes me wish I lived on an island like this with nothing but the company of squirrels and birds

Here’s one last image of this incredible place.

Do you follow Make the Journey Fun on Facebook? I’ll post some bonus pictures there too!

Dawn Patrol

If you’re an aviation aficionado or a history devotee and are near Dayton, Ohio, here’s what you need to do today: get yourself to the National Museum of the US Air Force for the World War I event Dawn Patrol.

They have replica World War I era planes and radio controlled aircraft in the air and on display. There are some very old cars, vendors and reenactors who are eager to chat.

My dad and I went yesterday. Honestly, the weather was gusty and cool, making it hard to enjoy but there was still some great stuff to see.

First off, the planes!

The flying got started a little late because most of these planes are too light to handle well in these windy conditions. Here’s another.

The RC Aircraft always impresses me. These planes are built with an incredible degree of detail and often sound realistic from the air.

There was a small collection of period cars too. This 1908 Buick is pretty special. That’s the owner checking out the motor.

I always get a kick out of reenactors who are willing to share stories and demonstrate the things they find interesting.

Here’s one more picture for good measure.

This last plane is a full scale Fokker that my pal Dewey has been flying for the owner who is an aviation enthusiast but not a pilot. It’s a pretty special plane to see in person so be sure to look for it if you go today.

Want to go? Dawn Patrol info can be found here. It ends at five so be sure to hurry up and get there! While you’re there, stop by the museum for a look around!

Carillon Historical Park

Wealthy people who spend their resources creating something affordable for others to enjoy are some of my favorite people. It’s even better when what they create disguises learning with fun.

Once upon a time, there was a couple named Edward and Edith Deeds. He was a noted industrialist and they were well known as Dayton, Ohio elite. Their list of contributions to the world and to Dayton is pretty lengthy but the one I want to talk about is Carillon Historical Park.

This 65 acre park and museum center is a terrific day trip for any history buff or anyone looking for a fun way to learn about something different.

You enter through a visitors center and rather large museum. Here you’ll find exhibits about the stories that make Dayton special. Did you know that Dayton gave the world the cash register and the electric automobile self starter?

Under this roof, you’ll find everything from an enormous collection of gorgeous antique cash registers to a working carousel you can ride on. There are antique toys, Frigidaire appliances and artwork. Theres an inexplicably large collection of vintage beer steins and pictures of entertainers who fare from the Gem City.

There’s a ton of neat stuff to see.

And then you go outside to a village made up of recreated buildings that are historically important. I told you earlier this week about the incredible Wright Brothers tribute. There’s also a 19th century school house, an early tavern, a small filling station and print shop. There’s a museum of transportation where you can walk through train and trolley cars that are so ornate they put our modern public transit vehicles to shame.

One of the most moving museums is about the 1913 flood. They use a combination of pictures, artifacts and sound to tell deeply personal and moving accounts of what it was like. There’s an imagine of people using telephone lines to escape. Sounds effects convincingly transport you to another time. The blue line on the building’s exterior represents the flood line and will break your heart. It’s so high you have to stand back to even see it.

This park was dedicated in 1950 and still grows. In fact, it is vibrant. There are so many interesting things to see here that it is well worth the $12 adult admission.

In case you are wondering, they do have a Carillon here. Known as the Deeds Carillon, it is 151 feet tall and has 57 bells, making it the largest Carillon in Ohio. And like an idiot, I didn’t even think to snap a picture of it. Next trip!

This place reminds me a lot of Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. It’s smaller than Greenfield but it’s also cheaper and closer to home for my Ohio readers – perfect for a late summer day trip!

Next time, we’ll talk about where we ate. Meanwhile, plan your trip to this fabulous place by learning more here. Oh, and that carousel? It’s just a dollar a ride!

Sixty Years Of Fashion

It reminds me of an advertisement for Barbie dolls through the years.

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Marietta, Ohio, look for fresh murals and faded advertising pieces on old brick walls. You’ll see something interesting in nearly every nook and cranny of downtown.

This one is easy to spot. You’ll find it on Front Street, the main drag through their historic downtown. If you’re in the market for fabulous new clothes and accessories, Teri Ann’s has been dressing local ladies for sixty years, as the mural says.

Layers Of Time

If you’re lucky, once in a while you will be going about your business when something truly special steps into your path and begs for attention.

That happened to me this weekend while visiting cemeteries with my parents in Morgan County, Ohio. My uncle is buried in a cemetery that sits just below a little white church on a hill. It has been abandoned for as long as anyone can remember. From the cemetery you can just catch a glimpse of the top of the church through overgrown brush and trees.

This place has long captivated my imagination. It was a mystery waiting to be solved. Sadly, it was long unattainable because I wasn’t crazy enough to brave the snakes and poison ivy just to climb the hill for a look.

This time was a completely different experience because someone had cut back the brush on the bank, creating a rough trail all the way to the front door. It was like they knew I was coming.

You can bet I abandoned my parents at the cemetery and scurried right up to the top for a look. The clearing was small, the stone porch steps have shifted but the inside was eerily intact. It looks like the congregation of Pleasant Hill Methodist Church just closed the door and walked away.

Everything is covered in a thick layer of dust and the piano is in rough shape. The floor seems sturdy and most of the glass windows are intact. The light in there was breathtaking that afternoon. I was in awe of how the light played on those dusty old wood pews.

Describing the physical experience of seeing the old pews in the light of a late May Sunday is the easy part of this story. What’s a little harder to describe is the most important part of the experience.

Most history buffs will understand when I say that some places feel special. They feel like important things have gone on inside. They feel like there’s a layer of time as thick as the dust on those pews that can only be felt rather than seen. They feel alive.

I had the strangest sensation that I was not alone in that 1889 era church. It was as though there was some unseen event taking place just beyond my line of sight. I could feel the energy of a congregation. That piano sat silent for me but still seemed full of energy.

In another time, someone pounded those keys to the tune of an old hymn like “Mansion Over The Hilltop” while an elderly preacher gripped his Bible and studied the faces of his congregation as they sang along.

I felt like an intruder and yet, didn’t feel unwelcome. I simply didn’t belong. It was an odd sensation. Unsettling but special. If I could just turn my head fast enough, I was convinced there was a church full of people just behind me.

This is why I adventure, friends. This sort of thing happens so rarely but the promise of the opportunity to experience a place so unusual is one of the things that keeps me looking.