Road Trip! Destination: Greenville, Ohio
If a little slice of Americana is what you're craving, then it's time to cross state lines into the Buckeye State. Whether you're traveling by Interstate 70 or 80, all roads easily lead to the city of Greenville, situated about 35 miles north of Dayton. There's no shortage of boredom-banishing pit stops within these city limits.
Kate Benz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-8515.
About 2,000 water-powered grist mills used to pepper the landscape of the Ohio Valley. These days, Bear's Mill is one of the last remaining reminders of this essential piece of pioneer history that's still in operation. Built in 1849 by Gabriel Baer, history buffs will revel in some of the mill's scintillating tidbits.
Of note: its 800-foot-long millrace (25 feet wide and 10 feet deep) was hand-dug by local schoolchildren for 50 cents a day, while a two-year-long jaunt to France was necessary for Baer to bring back the mill's three French buhr stones. Although the American black walnut siding had to be replaced in 2001, the hand-hewn timber framework of the four-story-tall building is original. Admission is free, and guests are encouraged to take a stroll around the mill's 35 acres to take in the gorgeous scenery and stunning waterways.
In addition to the guided tours and rotating art exhibits, be sure to pop into The Market on the first floor and stock up on gourmet food items including flours ground on the original French buhr stones.
Details: 937-548-5112; www.bearsmill.com
KitchenAid Retail Experience Center
The promise of a “mixing, blending, slicing, juicing culinary adventure!” is sure to please upon arrival to the KitchenAid Retail Experience. Not only can you fix your eyes on the original Model H (circa 1908), you can stock up on everything you need in the refurbished appliance outlet store and retail shop that offers one-of-a-kind colors and accessories. Free, live cooking demos are held Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Details: 888-886-8318 or www.kitchenaid.com
Hopeless romantics will swoon over the story behind the Garst Museum in downtown Greenville. Originally built in 1852 as an inn catering to weary travelers on the Dayton and Union Railroad, the Garst House began a new life as a museum in 1949. Six wings, 35,000 square feet of exhibit space and more than 300,000 artifacts later, this little gem attracts world-wide attention for its exhibits, including Military History, Treaty of Greene Ville Indians, Currier & Ives, and Auto and Horse Racing. Its coup de grace, however, is the National Annie Oakley Center, aka, the largest collection of Annie O. memorabilia in the world. The exhibit goes beyond her tomboy persona and Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show fame to shed some light on Little Miss Sure Shot's softer side.
“Most people think of Annie Oakley as the persona she has in ‘Annie Get Your Gun' as this rough and tough cowgirl, and that's the furthest thing from the truth — she was a very refined lady of the Victorian era,” director Dr. Clay Johnson says “We've got people from all over the world that visit us. She really was the first international female superstar.”
Details: 937-548-5250; www.garstmuseum.org
Shawnee Prairie Preserve
This 118-acre park includes a Nature Center and bird-viewing area. More than 2.25 miles of trails wind their way through the woodlands, prairies and wetlands of the Darke County Park's largest preserve. Observation towers offer unparalleled views of the scenery. A variety of nature-related programs is offered for pre-school age to senior citizens, including the Dec. 7 Luminary Hike when the trails will be lighted with 350 milk-jug candles.
“Everyone can have a peaceful night in the trails and can sample some pioneer food and sassafras tea or milled cider,” says naturalist and volunteer coordinator Laura Schwieterman.
A portion of the park was confirmed via archaeological evidence to be the site of Prophetstown, a village founded by Tecumseh's brother, The Prophet, who rallied together with 15 woodland Indian nations to demonstrate the living and hunting rights under the 1795 Treaty of Greene Ville.
Details: 937-548-0165; www.darkecountyparks.org
Shop 'till you drop in one of the 50 or so businesses in historic downtown Greenville. Blending the best of both worlds, no fewer than 80 buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Greenville snagged the title of Ohio Magazine's 2012/2013 “Best Hometown.”
On Nov. 23, the town will host its 10th Annual Hometown Holiday Horse Parade: Lighted horse carriages, riders and buggies parade through the historic downtown district, with activities before and after the parade. The event brings over 8,000 spectators and has become a family tradition for many, says Main Street Greenville executive director Amber Garrett.