The Finely Crafted Tour exemplifies the quality of Southeast Ohio’s assets and people. The tour ran in 2016, an effort of many dedicated individuals and organizations. Plans to create more tours like this are currently in the works. We welcome new partners in creating more experiences like the Finely Crafted Tour. Contact us for more information.
At A Glance: Fairfield County Fairgrounds…Rock Mill…Rock Mill Brewery…The Well…Ohio Glass Museum…Nelsonville Artisans…Burr Oak Lodge
If any resource from the region’s natural landscape shaped Early Ohio European settlement, it was the hardwoods of our Eastern
Woodland Forest. The tour will begin with that notion on Sunday morning with a “behind-the-scenes” look at the historic wooden buildings at the Fairfield County Fairgrounds hosted by regional historian and barn connoisseur, Tom O’Grady. Tom and local hosts will guide participants on a tour of the Round Horse Barn (circa 1906), The Round House (circa 1865) and the Art Hall (circa 1909). Tom will serve as our moderator throughout the two days, utilizing his vast knowledge of Ohio’s landscape and history to weave the story of the region’s products and their connection to our landscape and natural resources. Secure overnight parking and transportation pick-up for the two-day tour takes place at this location as well.
After boarding van/bus transportation, the journey will move to the headwaters of the Hocking River to the recently restored Rock Mill where available hardwoods were used to fashion this impressive 3-story grist mill, built by early Ohioans in 1824. Nearby is the restored Rock Mill Covered Bridge (circa 1901), standing 90 feet above the gorge of the Hocking River Falls. The mill was in operation grinding flour and corn into wheat and meal as late at 1905 before sitting vacant for nearly 100 years. Our host, the Fairfield County Heritage Parks Commission, will share their inspiring story of restoration including the recent addition of a replica of the mill’s original 26-foot-in-diameter all-wooden waterwheel, the largest of its kind in the state.
Natural water sources not only turn the wheel at Rock Mill, the mineral content of water in this neighborhood is being used to create craft beer. With lunchtime approaching a stop at the nearby Rock Mill Brewery will provide participants with an opportunity to sample locally crafted beer, and purchase some for the road. A small production brewery, Rockmill’s beers are modeled after the brews of Wallonia, Belgium located in the French-speaking region of the country in the rural south along the French border. The well water in this region contains a mineral very similar to the water profile found in the deep well located on this restored horse farm-turned brewery. This is not your standard contemporary microbrewery. Be ready for a great tour and to learn about “aged” beer.
The tour returns to Lancaster for lunch at The Well located in an expertly restored downtown storefront. A unique menu of hand-roasted coffees, fresh juices and wholesome gluten-free fare awaits. Meet the young entrepreneurial family who has opened this unique establishment that is part café, part artisan general store, and part creative play space dedicated to selling products from local farms and artists. Salads, hand crafted sandwiches and exquisite deserts provide Finely Crafted travelers with the first of four outstanding dining experiences in unique settings over the course of this highly curated two-day experience.
After lunch travelers will walk up the street to learn about the roots of the region’s glass industry at the Ohio Glass Museum. This visit will be made complete with glass-blowing demonstrations and a look at the history of Lancaster’s premier glass company, Anchor Hocking Glass. The stalled ancient glacier that spared this region from its flattening effects, washed plenty of fine sand from the Canadian Front along the banks of the Hocking River, providing an important ingredient in early artisan glass production here.
The hands of artisans have become increasingly present throughout the Hocking
River. Traveling through the glacier-crafted rock formations of the Hocking Hills, the tour will arrive on late Sunday afternoon in Nelsonville. Arts have fashioned a renaissance of sorts in this center of the “Little Cities of Black Diamonds” coal region, as vacant downtown storefronts have welcomed artisans as the iconical Stuart’s Opera House has welcomed musicians, changing the identity and culture of Public Square. Tour participants will experience hands-on arts activities at the Starbrick Cooperative Gallery and Paper Circle while having an opportunity to stroll through the town’s National Register of Historic Landmark’s District which features unique
Victorian architecture and locally made star brick sidewalks. Dinner here will highlight local fare prepared by Culinary Arts students from Hocking College at Rhapsody Music and Dining. The meal will include more of the region’s finely crafted beers and wines along with a taste of Straitsville Special Moonshine produced in the nearby mining town of New Straitsville.
Heading eastward into Morgan County, the evening will culminate with an overnight stay at the newly renovated Burr Oak Lodge where outstanding views of Burr Oak Lake will be on display upon awakening the next morning.
Interested in this tour? Let us know! Future guided tours are part of the mission of OHCHA and the new regional experience brand initiative, The Winding Road!
At A Glance: Burr Oak Lake…Rendville Art Works…Ludowici-Celadon Tile…National Ceramic Center…Rosehill Farm…Historic Somerset…Clay Haus Restaurant…Return to Fairfield County Fairgrounds
Travelers will enjoy breakfast on their own before embarking on a narrated morning boat ride across the lake, learning about the legacy of mining in the region by the Monday and Sunday Creek watershed groups and the growing “geotourism” movement in the Little Cities microregion that blends rich history with outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship.
One of the contemporary resources of southeastern Ohio today is an aging, but fascinating built environment from the coal-boom era. We will travel on to Rendville Art Works in southern Perry County where
local artists will share their products in a setting of rich African American History. Pressed tin ceilings from the Victorian Era are on display at the Rendville Baptist Church which now serves as an artisan gallery for folk art where artists, mostly folks with disabilities, are creating strikingly unusual art that is sought by a growing number of chic collectors from downtown Columbus to Soho lofts. Meet Art Works founder and artist Joel Yeager in the church where Civil Rights leader Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. got his spiritual start as a young coal miner during the storied Hocking Valley Coal Boom Era of the late 1800’s.
Our next stops will take us through the region’s nationally renowned ceramics history, utilizing abundant clay products found underground next to the coal seams in this mineral region of Ohio. Ludowici Roof Tile in New Lexington factory has been in operation here for over a century and is an internationally recognized ceramics company which is the only remaining ceramic roofing tile company in the United Sates.
From New Lexington we will travel to the Crooksville-Roseville area, center for the nation’s burgeoning art pottery movement of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s where many artifacts of the period are on display at the National Ceramic Museum & Heritage Center. Here, visitors will have opportunity to get dirty with a hands-on experience of pottery throwing.
The afternoon will be highlighted by a leisurely visit to Rosehill Farms where our guide Maddy Fraioli and partner Howard Peller will share their fascinating stories of utilizing the region’s resources to make finely crafted products. Howard’s baskets are hand woven from willow that he grows here on the farm. Maddy will share her floral pottery products and story as well as high quality hand-hooked rugs that she has created. A unique picnic style lunch catered by Mt. Airy Farms will be enjoyed during the visit.
Our journey will finish in Historic Somerset where we will tour the 1800’s Jacob Miller’s Tavern and Somerset Courthouse. Early pioneer Ohioans settle this community along Zane’s Trace, creating both wood and brick structures of significance, including the oldest federal style courthouse building in Ohio. Tour guide and historian David Snider will share his intimate knowledge of Somerset and its unique place in Ohio and Civil War history. Locally sourced and artistically prepared dinner will be enjoyed at Sophies Tea Room.
Our tour will end back at the Fairfield County Fairgrounds, at nightfall. After a carefully crafted two-days we expect that participants will be dutifully delivered into a new awareness provided by the experiences, information and culinary delights offered on this Ohio’s Hill Country tour. A deep appreciation for the land, its resources and the people who utilize them in this unique area of Ohio’s is our aim.