Head to Columbus for Appalachian Heritage Luncheon @ the Statehouse

Register now (click here) for Appalachian Heritage Luncheon at the Statehouse!

On Tuesday, December 12, Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area and Heritage Ohio will welcome honorees and guests to the Atrium at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to celebrate and reflect on Appalachian heritage and history. The list of honorees includes historic preservation organizations, cultural groups, and individuals dedicated to preserving and showcasing various chapters of Appalachian Ohio history.

OHio statehouseBeginning at noon, the luncheon will feature success stories from the honorees before the award ceremonies, which will conclude at 1:30.

A new award will be introduced this year, recognizing individuals for outstanding citizenship.   It will be named after and given to Sam Jones, of Glouster in Athens County.  Sam is recognized for his work with youth in the Glouster Area at the historic Sam’s Gym, Ohio’s oldest boxing venue established in the 1930’s.  Sam’s brilliant support for his community includes diverting many Trimble Township youth from the streets of this Little Cities of Black Diamonds coal mining community and teaching them to believe in themselves, as well as raising thousands of dollars for textbook and supply purchases at Trimble Local Schools via his annual Boxing for Books matches.

Museums being honored at the event include the Welsh-American Heritage Museum, and the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing, Ohio. Read more about the Welsh-American Museum and the history they have worked hard to preserve in the story on Page 2. Dr. John Maddox, the founder and curator of the Underground Railroad Museum, will be honored at the luncheon for his tireless work collecting the articles, memorabilia, and other publications that make up the museum’s collections.  His work in organizing the exhibits at the museum which tell what we know of slavery and the Underground Railroad in Ohio and explain the 1800s culture around them.

Another honoree that has preserved a chapter of the 1800s is the Historic Zoar Village. Established by German immigrants in 1817, the village thrived for more than 80 years and its current residents still live in some of its original buildings.

The New Straitsville History Group will also be honored at the Statehouse for their work preserving the abundant history of this coal mining community. Visitors to New Straitsville can see Robinson’s Cave,  the meeting place for the founders of the United Mine Workers saved by this organization, or visit their museum filled with local history artifacts collected by members.

Other honorees include Adena Health System, for their revitalization for the Carlisle Building in the heart of downtown Chillicothe and the Appalachia Ohio Alliance, which focuses on conservation and preservation of Ohio’s land resources.

Murphin Ridge Inn founder Mary Cosset will also be honored at the event and tell her success story about preserving a beautiful inn on 142 acres of farmland and opening it up for visitors who can also  get a taste of life among the  Amish who build furniture and sell baked items nearby..

Registration for the luncheon is $35. Ticketholders who arrive early can enjoy free tours of the Ohio Statehouse with architect Bob Loveridge and historian Nancy Recchie, which will begin at 10:30 am.

This event is sponsored by AEP Ohio, the Burr Oak Lodge & Conference Center, and the Hocking Valley Bank.  Register on-line by clicking here! See you in the capital city at the center on December 12th.Appalachain Success Stories @ Statehouse Luncheon

Recipients of the 2016 Statehouse Luncheon Awards

National Museum of Cambridge Glass (Guernsey County)
Edge of Appalachia (Adams County)
Nelson T Gant House (Muskingum County)
Trumpet in the Land (Tuscarawas County)
Yearly Quaker Meeting House (Jefferson County)
McArthur Spring Literary Festival (Vinton County)
Historic Roscoe Village (Coshocton County)
Buckeye Trail Association
(Perry County Headquarters/Trail Passes through Multiple Counties)
Fly Ferry (Monroe County)
Village Bakery (Athens County)
Sewah Studios (Washington County)


Winding Road Network Moving Forward

High Rock Adventures Pic

Steve Roley of High Rock Adventures in the Hocking Hills shared the story of his outdoor adventure business with fellow entrepreneurs at the Burr Oak Meet Up which was devoted to “building community around product and business development.”

Over 50 persons gathered at Burr Oak Lodge near Glouster for an “All-Sector Meet Up” in late October, meant to stimulate business and product development around The Winding Road: Ohio’s Rising Appalachia (a sub-region of Ohio’s Hill Country).  Organized by Winding Road stakeholders, Heritage Ohio and Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area, the event shared the entrepreneurial success stories in the outdoor adventure, guiding, local foods, destination tourism related businesses, heritage and arts sectors.  Morning break-outs focused on success stories, networking and product development within the various sectors which have been engaging in “meet-ups” during the past year.  After a lunch address by State Representative Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), afternoon round tables connected participants with useful resources in a Winding Road Cafe setting where locally produced coffee, legal spirits and snacks were available to participants as they visited information tables and networked with experts and colleagues.  Among the resource persons available at the tables were representatives of financing, electronic media marketing, ticketing, and packaging of experiences.

The event was facilitated by Tracy Kunkler, of Circle Forward Consulting who is working with organizers of this collaborative network of stakeholders to establish a system for planning, decision making and governance.  Kunkler has a deep understanding of collaborative networks and how contemporary strategies are needed to make them successful.   winding-road-logo-ohios-rising-appalachia-no-catalog-textKunkler will be working with the coordinating group formed around the Winding Road network to help plan the next steps for initiative, including funding proposal development, interpretive guide training and creation of shared services.   Current strategies include growing, refining and marketing the brand, increasing experiential products and tourism-related businesses around authentic assets, and the growth of interpretive programs and guides.

OHCHA sees the future of it’s efforts, in part, being tied to helping networks and brands form that can produce an experiential economy around authentic assets in Appalachian Ohio.  These networks can be organized around geographic sub-regions, thematic trails and sector related experiences that can value and share the unique sense of place we experience in the hill country of Ohio.  For more information about our Winding Road effort and developing networks similar to this in our 31-county region, e-mail us at ohioshillcountryheritagearea@gmail.com, or call 740-394-2852.  Our capacity to directly assist these networks is limited due to paid staff capacity, but stakeholders in the Winding Road region are abundant and many are willing to share ideas and strategies that might stimulate leadership around your ideas to organize an initiative and/or brand around a theme, or sub-region that highlights assets in our greater region.

Support Hill Country!


“Valuing our Story” With The Unveiling of Historic Marker Celebrating African American Heritage in Rendville.

Support Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area.  Join with us and add your voice to the growing community of dedicated people who value the region’s distinct history, culture, natural beauty, recreational opportunities and unique sense of place.

Annual (and lifetime) support categories include:

In addition to your annual support please consider becoming a 2017 Tour Sponsor.  Your donation will allow us to offer tour participation to members of the community that  might not otherwise be able to participate.  We reach out to the youth of our region to help educate and inspire them to become active with their cultural heritage

Donation categories include:

Your support gift entitles you to:

  • Subscription to Ohio Hill Country Voice – Our attractive newsletter
  • Reduced rates on selected events & tours
  • Discounts on OHCHA Merchandise at The Winding Road MarketPlace
  • Access to many experts on the Ohio Hill Country region
  • A part in preserving our heritage and building a sustainable community!

As a non-profit, we are dependent on your support to survive and grow. As a volunteer-run organization, we need your support to continue our work. Please join today!

Getting Younger! OHCHA Adds 3 New Board Members

Until recently nearly half of the OHCHA Governing Board has been with the organization since its formative years, bringing veteran wisdom to the table, but a yearning for new ideas from the Millennial generation.  Worry, no longer!  Three new talented board members have joined the effort since December, growing our governing body to 10 members, its largest size in over a decade.


Diana Marvel

They are Diana Marvel, who is the Assistant Director of the Center for Campus and Community Engagement at Ohio University. Marvel came to the region from Seattle as a graduate student and fell in love with the landscape and culture here and is a now an active citizen, involved in a variety of community activities in the Athens area.


Alicia Caton

She is joined by Alicia Caton of Shawnee, who actually lives in an apartment above OHCHA headquarters in the Historic District.  Alicia is a native of Lancaster, served as an Americorps member with OHCHA during the 2015-16 term, an avid backpacker and is employed as an Events Planner with The Inn at Cedar Falls in the Hocking Hills.


Evan Shaw

Meigs County native and film documentarian Evan Shaw rounds out the list of newcomers.  Shaw has created four documentaries on southeastern Ohio communities for WOUB Public Media at Ohio University and is an avid historian.  His filmmaking talents have also landed him with a steady second job with NFL Films, taking him around the country to professional football venues each weekend throughout the season!  We welcome these newcomers ranging in age from their late 20’s to late 30’s to our organization.  We fell younger already!

Winding Road Local Foods Sector Meetup!

Authentic local foods and spirits are a growing element of our region’s authentic culture.  The Local Foods Sector is one of six sectors* being promoted via OHCHA’s sector development work with the The Winding Road: Ohio’s Rising Appalachia Initiative which promotes experiential tourism development around unique assets in the Hocking and Muskingum River Valleys of southeastern Ohio.  Stakeholders in the Local Foods Sector will gather at Ohio Hill Country Headquarters in Shawnee on Thursday afternoon, March 7th from 3-5pm for a Sector Meetup! to discuss how they might collaborate with one another to create tourism products, build a supportive community and market their goods and experiences.  The conversational style gathering will provide opportunities for foodie folks from Athens to Zanesville and winding-road-logo-ohios-rising-appalachia-no-catalog-textbeyond to get know one another and make plans for the future.  Farmers and other food producers, restaurant owners, food entrepreneurs, policy makers and food vendors are encouraged to attend.  Persons wishing to attend the
Meetup! are asked to RSVP by dropping a line to ohioshillcountryheritagearea@gmail.com or call us at 740-394-2852.  There is no charge for the event.  Locally produced snacks and legal beverages will be served.

*Heritage, Local Foods, Outdoor Recreation/Environmental Learning, The Arts, Education & Youth, Tourism Related Businesses.

Pictured Above: Local Food Producers Pork & Pickles at the Athens Farmers Market, Summe 2016

Inspiring Practices Recognized at Statehouse Luncheon

Over 100 citizens and Appalachian Ohio legislators gathered in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium in December for the 6th Annual Appalachian Heritage Luncheon sponsored by Ohio Hill Country Heritage Area and Heritage Ohio.  After being addressed by OHCHA President Tom O’Grady on the importance of protecting and developing the region’s authentic assets, OHCHA board member and Heritage Ohio Director Joyce Barrett conducted the awards ceremony.  Legislators introduced eleven “Appalachian Success Stories” from their district which were then shared by award recipients from businesses, organizations, historic and natural sites and local governments from around the region.  This event is a highlight of OHCHA’s year, and is consistent with our mission to “value the regions historical, natural, and cultural assets.”

This year’s recipients were:
National Museum of Cambridge Glass (Guernsey County)
Edge of Appalachia (Adams County)
Nelson T Gant House (Muskingum County)
Trumpet in the Land (Tuscarawas County)
Yearly Quaker Meeting House (Jefferson County)
McArthur Spring Literary Festival (Vinton County)
Historic Roscoe Village (Coshocton County)
Buckeye Trail Association
(Perry County Headquarters/Trail Passes through Multiple Counties)
Fly Ferry (Monroe County)
Village Bakery (Athens County)
Sewah Studios (Washington County)

Winding Road Meet Up January 18th

Join The Winding Road Initiative for a chance to make the region’s environment, economy and communities just a lil’ bit stronger, healthier, happier and more attractive at a Winding Road Outdoor Recreation/Environmental Learning Meet Up!   The Meet-Up will take place on Thursday afternoon, January 18th in Shawnee. We will gather from 3-5PM at the Winding Road MarketPlace/Ohio Hill Country Heritage Area headquarters at 117 West Main Street, just across the street from the Tecumseh Theater.   Locally sourced and complimentary snacks and microbrew will be available. Arrive early for a Pre-Meet Up Winter Hike on the Buckeye Trail departing at 1:30PM that afternoon from the Buckeye Trail Association headquarters at 127 West Main. Shawnee is located in the Wayne National Forest at the intersections of State Routes 93 & 155 in southern Perry County.   

Nonprofits such as Rural Action, Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area, Buckeye Trail Association and others are actively organizing efforts and sourcing funds to improve our ecotourism/geotourism infrastructure.  We need your participation to create synergy, collaboration, cooperation and ultimately success.  At the Meet-Up we will use a fast-paced conversational/survey format to:

  • Review existing assets/stakeholders identified for the outdoor/environmental sector and identify additional assets/stakeholders and missing/needed outdoor recreation products;
  • Review and plan shared marketing (catalog, web site, social media) activities of the Winding Road to date and make plans for the future;
  • Hear about a recently approved seed grant that will help us collaboratively look at/create a Co-Op for Interpretive Guides in the Winding Road region;
  • Review shared Winding Road training, technical assistance activities (NAI Guide Training, Stakeholder Gatherings, Sector meetings, study trips) to date, and make plans the future;
  • Identify targeted funding needs for ecotourism ventures of stakeholders, as well as for collaborative ventures in the form of grants, loans, earned income and investments;
  • Identify infrastructure needs to support growth (site development, tour transportation, lodging, marketing, way-finding signage, technology, etc.)
  • Identify and attract people/businesses to develop outdoor rec products and attracting the human resources needed to assist emerging ventures.
  • Identify opportunities for students to engage, learn and become our next generation of outdoor economy leaders.

So, come on over, take a hike, share a beer (or wine or coffee), conversation and ideas, and let’s figure out how we are going to incubate a collaborative, stewarded, and economically sustainable Outdoor Economy here in our own backyard.

Please drop us a line to RSVP at ohiohillcountryheritagearea@gmail.com.

Help Ohio Open Its Doors to Building & Landmark Treasures

Ohio Open Doors is a statewide effort where building and landmark sponsors open their doors to the public for special tours and programs. Join the Ohio History Connection in honoring the history, design and stories of your local buildings and landmarks by opening them to the public during the period September 9-18.  The purpose of the effort is to:

  • Stimulate citizens’ interest in landmarks’ history and architecture in your community
  • Create a time for members of your community to connect with you and each other
  • Promote, educate and inspire pride in Ohio’s amazing heritage

To learn how you can participate in this process and gain state wide publicity for your event visit: www.ohiohistory.org/preserve/ohio-open-doors.

Crossing The River: African Americans in Southeastern Ohio Tour

August 8-9, 2016

Crossing The River Logo


Provocative stories of courage, creativity & accomplishment!

Guides who are intimate with the past & current story!

Excellent food, entertainment and accommodations!

Hidden in the steep hills and narrow valleys of southeastern Ohio are remarkable stories of men and women who bravely broke the color barrier after they and their families crossed the Ohio River into Ohio’s Hill Country throughout the 19th and 20th Century. The region’s relatively homogeneous population does not lead one to expect stories of state and national significance involving African Americans. However, to the contrary, abundant examples exist that still impact the region today.   Join a spirited group of guides, ranging from community organizers and descendants of early trailblazers, to scholars and contemporary leaders as this landmark experience will give consideration to events and sites dating back to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Learn about Quakers and the Underground Railroad at Chesterhill, Ohio’s first public university and a black only academy at Albany in Athens County, the African American experience in Ohio’s second state capital at Zanesville, and an accidental social experiment during the coal boom era at Rendville where African Americans became pioneers in the nation’s labor union movement.   This guided bus tour includes lodging at the scenic Burr Oak State Park Lodge, a taste of regional foods and performance, and visits to African American churches, cemeteries and to the region’s pride and joy, Ohio University, where many early African American milestones were set.

The Details:

Location: Tour begins and ends at Burr Oak State Park Lodge, 10660 Burr Oak Lodge Road • Glouster, Ohio 45732.

Time: 9AM Monday, August 8 to 6PM, Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cost: $195 per person (includes 4 meals: lunch-dinner August 8, breakfast-lunch August 9 and transportation).  Register by phone or e-mail by contacting us (see contact) or on-line at Event Brite. Fees apply to on-line registering.  Registration does not include lodging.

Lodging: $95/105 per room (single/double occupancy) @ Burr Oak Lodge.  To receive this rate, you must register directly through Ohio Hill Country or on-line at Event Brite.  Lodging option is at bottom of Even Brite registration page.

Contact: Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area; P O. Box 114; Shawnee, Ohio 43782; @gmail.com or call 740-707-1775 or 740-394-2852.

Note: This tour involves significant van/bus travel on winding roads and requires moderate amounts of walking with some uneven surfaces.

Click here for full details including a tentative itinerary!