Sunday, August 21, 2022
Temperature 72 Degrees, Overcast with Rain
Historic Roscoe Village
Well last night proved to be most interesting. First, it started to rain. OK, it wasn’t too bad. Then the thunder and lightening started, and Proton was in my lap immediately. Within minutes, however, the situation got ugly. The tornado sirens around the park began wailing and our phones went off with tornado alerts. Where in the world could we go? Unfortunately, nowhere. So we sat tight and listened carefully for the sound of a train which would mean the tornado was coming through. Thankfully, it never came. It went about 6 miles to the east of us. We dodged a bullet.
That was last night. Earlier in the day we did some more sightseeing. While looking for places of interest in this region an online search came up with
The little bit we learned online about Roscoe Village intrigued us so we decided a visit was in order. Our first stop, as is always our practice, was to the Visitor Center. There we learned about the town itself. The port town that was Roscoe was established in 1816 but it remained a small and unimportant Ohio town for years because of its location far from any other major city.
We learned that all that changed in 1820 with the building of the Ohio and Erie Canal. The Ohio and Erie Canal was built during the 1820’s and 1830’s. The canal traveled through the Cuyahoga Valley connecting Akron, Ohio with Lake Erie. It also had connections to other canal’s in Pennsylvania.
The canal brought unheard of prosperity to cities along its route. For a fact, cities boomed wherever the canal went. During its first ten years property values all along the canal increased, sometimes as much as 300% from pre canal days. The town of Roscoe was no different. Almost overnight it became a bustling port on the canal. In time it became the fourth largest wheat port on the 350 mile canal system that stretched from the Great Lakes to the Hudson River.
The town of Roscoe thrived into the 1860’s. But with the coming of the railroad in that year the town began a slow decline. With the epic flood of 1913 the town was literally swept away.
Today, thanks to the generosity and hard work of many the town has become a living museum so that people can step back in time and see what a thriving canal town was once like.
Let’s go see what it is in the Visitor’s Center.
When entering you immediately notice this beautiful mural. It is entitled Canal Days and depicts the town of Roscoe when it was bustling with activity.
Immediately in front of the mural is a diorama of a typical canal lock. Then, as now water enters and leaves the locks the same way – using the force of gravity.
The next several diorama’s were of the actual digging of the canal and the construction of a typical lock.
Stop and think about it – no modern tools here. No trucks, no bulldozers, no steam shovels – it was all done by hand.
Really, 30 cents a day? Six days a week, sunup to sundown? Then, too, we discovered that on average about 6 men per mile would die usually from canal fever or what we know today as malaria. It was a tough way to make a living.
Regarding the locks on the canals.
A diorama of lock building.
Here, you can clearly see the large sandstone blocks that made up the walls of the lock; and, the wood planks that were installed on the floor of the canal.
Look closely at the lock gate door, note the little window in the bottom of each door? This is what was opened and closed in order to let water either enter or exit thereby adjusting the level of the water in the lock.
Time now to take a living history tour of the recreated canal town of Roscoe. Today, the town is a mix of restored homes and shops depicting life during the canal era, and modern day shops selling all kinds of goods.
A snapshot now of the restored structures that are a part of the living history tour.
This is the oldest house in Roscoe. This was the home of Daniel Boyd the village weaver. He made the cloth that families would then take and sew together to make pants, dresses, etc. A total of ten lived in this one story house – the parents and 8 children. The parents slept in the bed, the infant in the bed next to them and the remainder slept on the floor.
The school house. Nothing fancy just what was necessary to impart a quality education.
This is the way that they were taught to write. Compare that to what our children are taught today. Sometimes I believe we are going the wrong way.
A typical reading lesson.
Clean chimneys? If a woman marries she is fired? A raise of 25 cents per week after five years? You really had to want to be a teacher I would think.
The doctor’s house. What was interesting about this house was that there was no kitchen. Not that you could see. We discovered that it was located in the basement along with the pantry. Dr. Johnson the owner of this house lost his wife shortly after the birth of their third child. He went on to raise his three children on his own while also building a successful medical practice in the town of Roscoe.
The doctor’s office was adjacent to his house. Dr. Johnson practiced medicine in Roscoe for 50 years. It is said that he never refused to see a patient no made whether they could or couldn’t pay.
What was nice is that each stop on the living history tour had a life size touch screen inside. Once activated it would give you about a two to three minute presentation about the structure that you were in, its owners, and what it meant to the town of Roscoe.
We had one more stop, one more must activity that we wanted to do.
We wanted to step back in time and take a ride on an authentic canal boat.
We were ready to ride a horse drawn canal boat on a section of the Ohio and Erie Canal.
Our captain was interesting and informative. For instance he told us the person who drove the horses along the tow path was called a hoagie. Furthermore, the typical hoagie was a homeless child of about six to eith years of age. They would walk with the horses for 10 to 15 hours per day, then they would bed down with the horses on the tow path and wait for a boat going the other way and they would go again.
He also shared with us what would happen when a north and south bound boat met. Since the tow path was only on one side of the canal, then what? First of all the north bound boat always had the right of way. So, how did they pass? The south bound boat would drop its tow rope which would sink to bottom of the canal – it was only 4 feet deep – the north bound boat would glide over it, then the rope was retrieved and the south bound boat continued on its way.
Two horse power – literally – by the name of Tim and Diesel. It was such a pleasant and relaxing trip. You could close your eyes and imagine what it must have been like when there were dozens of boats moving in each direction. A simpler time for sure.
So, that is how we spent our early Saturday afternoon. It was a delightful time out and about. Once again we learned so much and were able to just spend time together. There is nothing better than that.
Thanks again for spending some time with us. It’s always great to be able to share our story with family and friends. Comments? Feel free to share them with me. And always remember, cherish every moment of every day that God gives you and live those moments to the fullest.
Our continuing mission remains the same: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before.