Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Niagara Falls, New York: Wallenda Marker

Talk about guts!

Nic Wallenda cornered the market on that quality on June 12, 2012. That's when he walked on a high wire across the gorge that forms Niagara Falls between the United States and Canada. Wallenda did it with the Falls roaring below him, in front of a national television audience.

Now that "stroll" always will be remembered. An historical marker was placed in the area in July 2014. It's about 25 yards from the place where Wallenda started his walk. It ended safely on the Canadian side about 26 minutes later.

The rock used for the marker was taken from the gorge. Also attached is part of the wire that crossed the gorge that day.

Here's how Nik's walk looked when it happened:

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Monday, September 16, 2019

Sugarcreek, Ohio: World's Largest Cuckoo Clock

Sugarland has the nickname of "Little Switzerland." A visit there will never be confused to a trip to a village in the Alps. Still, there's a big reason for a detour to its downtown area.

Yes, the world's largest cuckoo clock is here.

The structure was first built in the early 1970s for a restaurant in Wilmot, Ohio - just up the road from Sugarcreek. When the restaurant closed, it moved to Sugarcreek and received some TLC.

Now it's on the main intersection of the town. Every half-hour from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. - from spring to fall - the cuckoo clock performs for audiences. It's all very well done.

For whatever reason, videos won't post on this site. So go to Plan B and click on the link.

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Berlin, Ohio

Want to see a horse and buggy? Berlin, Ohio, offers a good chance of it.

Berlin was formed around 1816, and first was known for immigrants from Germany and Switzerland. However, it didn't take long for Amish settlers to start moving in the region in good-sized numbers. The number is up to 56,000 today, a jump of about 60 percent in the past 27 years or so.

While the countryside is quiet - not as many cars on the road as in other similar sized cities - downtown in on the active side. That's because Berlin has become something of an attraction for shoppers. If you want to buy a quilt or furniture - all hand-made - this is the place to do it.

Ohio wasn't particularly original when it came to city names, but picking Berlin was almost too obvious. Several other states have a Berlin on their map. If you have a bucket list filled with planned trips to Berlin, well, this sign might help.

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Mansfield, Ohio: Ohio State Reformatory

Time for a photography tip - sometimes it's a good idea to take more than one photo of a place, particularly if you aren't likely to see it again.

My photo of the Ohio State Reformatory was taken through a wire fence after closing time. Sure enough, the shot didn't come out. So I use this here with the hopeful courtesy of Ohio Magazine; I'll pull it if I hear about an objection.

The prison has become world famous in the last 25 years or so, and for an unlikely reason. After more than a century of use, it closed in 1990. So it was sitting vacant when a movie called "The Shawshank Redemption" came in and filled within its confines during filming in 1993.

The movie became a surprise hit in 1994 after a slow start at the box office (it found an audience on cable, and still pops up a lot), and ranks with many as one of the most popular movies of its time. That means people wanted to see where it was filmed, and the good folks of Mansfield, Ohio, realized they had a windfall on their hands. The facility is now open for tours for much of the year, including ghost tours. Mansfield apparently needs some economic help, so this was a nice bit of economic news.

The building has a classic architectural look - even through the wire fence.

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Dublin, Ohio: Field of Corn

It's easy to think that no one needs to create a fake field of corn in Ohio. After all, there is plenty of it growing in the rural areas of this diverse state.

Still, this makes some sense when put in context.

Dublin, Ohio, is a ways northwest of Columbus. It didn't used to be a suburb of the state capital, but it is now. That means land use has changed considerably in recent years.

That got Malcoln Cochran to thinking. He decided to take the land that was donated by a former corn farmer, and contribute to Dublin's "Art in Public Places" series. Naturally, he put corn on the land. In fact, he put 109 ears of the stuff on the ground, all about eight feet tall.

The park is surrounded by offices and residential areas, and some have thought it to be an odd fit in the neighborhood. On the other hand, public art is designed to cause a reaction, and Cochran apparently succeeded. Besides, you think tourists would come to Dublin to see an office park?

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Marysville, Ohio: Honda Heritage Center

It's always fun to see how things are built. That's particular true when it comes to the automobile. We've been fascinated by the giant plants and assembly lines for more than a century.

The good folks at Honda capitalize on those feelings by offering plant tours at the factory in Marysville, Ohio - northwest of Columbus.

The first stop is the Honda Heritage Center, where displays tell some of the history of the company. Here is the N600, a 1971 vehicle that was Honda's first car in the American market. I'm sure the 58 dealers in the USA were busy moving these babies along. The center also has a variety of vehicles and displays on the history and future of the company.By the way, the Heritage Center had a couple of associates who were very, very friendly. They must make a lot of friends for Honda.

Then it is on to the plant tour, in our case in East Liberty. It takes about 75 minutes to walk around the plant's designated areas, and it's a bit overwhelming. The robotics are amazing, and parts come from all sorts of angles on their way to become a full-fledged car. One of the many amazing facts given out - there is more technology now in the inside door handle than there was in the entire car in 1982.

The tour could have used an introductory film to explain what was going on, but it's still a great experience. Make reservations ahead of time, and take a look at how Hondas are built.

(And no, you don't get a free sample.)

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Bellefontaine, Ohio: Highest Point in Ohio

Visit the highest point in most states, and you'll see why poets no doubt rushed off to write down their thoughts about the magnificent views.

Such is not the case in Ohio.

Campbell Hill is only 1,549 feet above sea level, and it is not that much higher than its surroundings. But it is good enough to earn the title in Ohio.

A flag marks the high point, which was once used by NORAD during the Cold War days. They are trying to raise money for a museum here; we'll see how that goes.

The best surprise of the visit, besides the "no sledding" signs noted in the Roadside America article,  is a small box on the walkway to the high point. There, you can find blank certificates that can prove you actually visited this spot. What a nice touch for the silly tourist.

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