The Brewery’s Neighboring Neighborhood

hufftour01Last December I took a tour of decorated homes in Dayton. Those homes were in the Saint Anne’s Hill Historic District where Fifth Street Brewpub is located and they were decorated for Christmas. On Friday evening I toured some homes in a nearby neighborhood that were decorated for a nearby holiday. The holiday was Halloween. The neighborhood was Historic Huffman. Like Saint Anne’s Hill, the Huffman district was once in decline and is experiencing a come back with the restoration of many deteriorating homes. Seven houses took part in this year’s Spirit of Huffman Tour. There are photos here of the three most Halloweenish.

hufftour02hufftour03hufftour04For the first home we visited, the tour is not so much a call to decorate as an oppertunity for the owner to display his incredible collection of Halloween related items. Those shown here are just a tiny portion.

hufftour07hufftour06hufftour05This is one of the “works in process” on the tour. A Dayton ordinance allows individuals to initiate foreclosure proceedings on abandoned houses by paying the expenses. This particular house was acquired for $1200. It was in sad shape and had been stripped of wiring and plumbing but did contain a surprising amount of furnishings including a Baldwin grand piano.

hufftour08hufftour09hufftour10The last house on the tour was not only wonderfully restored and decorated, it offered both entertainment and refreshments. Once we had all assembled in the area between the home and the large carriage house, three witches, who had remained entirely motionless as we gathered, delivered a flawless and dramatic reading of the caldron scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. As the scene came to an end, a lady emerged from the carriage house. Surprised by the crowd, she explained that she was doing research on the 1947 Roswell incident and the aliens that were rumored to have been brought to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from there. There had been some recent sightings, she said, but had barely managed to warn us before we experienced a sighting ourselves.

hufftour11I followed the tour, as I did with last year’s Christmas tour, with a visit to the neighborhood brewery.

The Small Trailer Enbrewsiast

ste1When the largest brewer in Dayton, Ohio, started thinking about something to take to local festivals, someone asked “What about that old local company?” As soon as he explained what old local company he was talking about, someone else asked “Why not?”. Next thing you know they’re dragging a nearly sixty year old camper out of the weeds and working on a new beer recipe to go with it. Both had their official debut Saturday.

ste2The brewery in question in Warped Wing Brewing Company. There were already several breweries in and around Dayton when it opened just over two years ago but Warped Wing immediately became the largest. Most of the others are rather small with little or no off-site distribution. Warped Wing’s founders had canning in mind from the day they opened and their draft products are available in many area bars and restaurants.

ste3The “old local company” of interest was Trotwood Trailers who operated for many years in a Dayton suburb of the same name. The company actually got its start in the 1920s with tent campers like the one shown in the poster. It was still operating when fire destroyed the factory in 1981. More information about the company can be found here and here.

ste4ste5I stepped right up to try out the draft version of the new Trotwood Lager. It’s an easy drinking American stye beer with 4.0% ABV and 20 IBU. Modifications have reduced the 1957 Trotwood Economy model’s suitability for family camping but with eight working taps it probably doesn’t matter. Being the sort of guy willing to go the extra mile when needed, I also tried a can for the sake of completeness.

ste8ste7ste6Ohio law prevents carrying a beer purchased outside inside and vice versa. With the sake of completeness still in mind, I stepped inside while my hands were empty. Even though the festivities and music were outside, cool temperatures brought quite a few people inside. Or maybe it was the game room.

Now about that title. I certainly mean no disrespect to Pat Bremer and his seriously informative Small Trailer Enthusiast website. It’s just that sometimes these ideas come and I lack the discipline to ignore them.


dpww1dpww2My stop at Deeds Point before visiting the brewery was pure coincidence. Taking these photos was not. I had some time to kill before the brewery opened and the park was a convenient place to do it. Once I realized that the bronze Orville was demonstrating the twisting of a box that led the brothers to the warped wing principle that allowed them to control their flyer and that gave its name to the brewery where I was headed, a picture seemed super appropriate. As I’m sure you’re aware, it wasn’t getting off the ground that was the breakthrough. It was controlling the aircraft and getting back on the ground that set the Wright Brothers apart.

The Brewery’s Neighborhood

sahdoc15_00Neighborhood taverns may not be as common as they once were but they are hardly extinct. Traditional beer towns like Cincinnati, Saint Louis, and Milwaukee have them and I’m sure they’re not alone. Once upon a time, some of the neighborhoods in those beer towns had a neighborhood brewery. A precious few do so today. One that does is the Saint Anne’s Hill Historic District in Dayton, Ohio. That’s the neighborhood brewery at right. It’s the Fifth Street Brewpub, the first co-op brewery in Ohio and the second in the nation. Today patrons come from near and far and even the owner/members are a widespread bunch but the founders who had the idea and made it happen are neighbors. They did it to save a little history and to put some more life back into their neighborhood. The rest of the Saint Anne’s Hill pictures are posted in sequence but this was taken at the end of the evening as I approached the brewpub for a little R&R after a guided walk around the neighborhood. There’s something of a “bonus” in the photo. The contraption at the very top is part of the rigging for the overhead wires that power Dayton’s electric trolley buses. Dayton is one of only five US cities operating electric trolley buses. The others are Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle.

sahdoc15_01Saint Anne’s Hill was hardly lifeless even before the brewpub opened in 2013. A downward slide that had started with the Great Depression and World War II was halted in the early 1970s as a modern sort of pioneer started restoring some of the elegant old houses in the area. A some point, residents began offering tours of homes decorated for Christmas to raise funds for community projects. The biennial tours continue to be offered in odd numbered years. They begin at this 1869 house which is now the High Street Art Gallery operated by the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors.

sahdoc15_02The area’s original heyday was in the early twentieth century and tour guides dress in the height of period fashion. That’s our tour guide, Jack, under the top-hat. There were eight homes on the tour and Jack told us about each one before we entered. In the picture we are learning about a house on High Street built by a family named Bennington in 1890.

sahdoc15_03sahdoc15_04sahdoc15_05The tour’s appeal comes from the wonderfully restored historic homes themselves as well as beautiful Christmas decorations both inside and out. Two, three, or more trees are a big part of each home’s charm which meant there were many great looking trees to chose from. The trees shown here were chosen largely because their photos came out OK and I won’t attempt to identify the houses they were in. In addition to the Bennington house this year’s tour included a 1902 house also on High Street, an 1886 house on McLain Street, 1900 and 1853 houses on LaBelle Street, and 1855 and 1865 houses on Detoit Street.

sahdoc15_06In addition to telling us about each home we entered, Jack provided information on several other houses as we passed. This house, on what is now Detoit Street, was built by Eugene Detoit in 1838. It is the oldest house in Saint Anne’s Hill and one of the oldest in Dayton.

sahdoc15_07sahdoc15_08sahdoc15_09Different homes participate in each year’s tour with one exception. The 1869 Bossler Mansion is always the final stop and that is where we were treated to some incredible bread pudding as were all the tour groups in previous years. The mansion’s thirty rooms were once divided into thirteen apartments. During tour weekend, the second floor holds a gift shop filled largely with items made by local craftsmen. The last photo is the view from the cupula atop the mansion.

This was the second time I’ve taken a tour of decorated historic homes. The first was in 2012 in Morristown on the National Road.


zns02zns01Saint Anne’s Hill is something over thirty crow miles from where I live. A holiday display that has been getting a lot of press is much closer. The World’s First Zombie Nativity Scene, which has been covered by the New York Times, CNN, and the BBC among others, is about a half dozen miles from my door. Most of the big time coverage was triggered by threats by the township to fine the owner up to $500 per day. Officials have always claimed that the threats were because of zoning violations and it seems they were even if that might not be what initially caught their attention. A day or two before I took these pictures on Friday, the display had been made smaller and a roof that extended upward a few feed removed. The township says it’s now good to stay.

Even though it was the threatened fines that brought the world wide attention, most reports focused on the “non-traditional” nature of the display. Fair and balanced Lou Dobbs called it an “obscenity” and said “I think if you’re going to mock a religion, I’m thinking they should have chosen the Islamic religion to see what would happen.” Lou and company notwithstanding, my sense is that defenders out number those who are upset and that, after two years of what some would call oppression, a new local Christmas tradition has been established.

Celebrating

bd2015_00The Findlay Market Opening Day Parade was a full thirty hours away and my birthday had barely begun when last week’s post went up. Here’s an update.

Last Sunday was a long way from blisteringly hot but it was reasonably warm (60s), dry, and sunny. I spent much of the day driving a familiar loop along the banks of the Ohio River. I haven’t decided whether or not the new chapeau is a keeper but I got it for almost nothing with an about to expire credit and I’m going to give it a chance.

bd2015_01bd2015_02Breakfast was had at Brew River Gastropub in Cincinnati. Even though I cringe at the word “gastropub”, I’d stopped in here one night for beer and live music and decided it was OK. It’s location on Riverside Drive and a reputation for a  good Sunday brunch made it a reasonable choice for a place to start the day. My Easter eggs came in what is essentially an omelette known as “Eggs Du Drop”. It was quite good with house-made goetta, Irish Cheddar, and green onions. From there it was east along the river’s north bank, a crossing at Maysville, and a return to Cincinnati on the Kentucky side.

od2015_04od2015_03od2015_02On Monday I parked near Arnold’s with the intention of having breakfast there as I did last year but it was simply too crowded. Instead, I stopped in at the Sports Page Restaurant for another helping of geotta. That made timing just about perfect for a one beer test of Cincinnati’s newest brewery. Taft’s Ale House had planned to open last fall but, when construction surprises made that impossible, decided to open in sync with the Reds. Today was the official grand opening and, while they didn’t make enough to cover their $8 million investment, they got a good start.

odp2015_01odp2015_02odp2015_03I had time to snoop around the staging area a bit then found myself a good spot just a few blocks into the route as the parade started. This year’s Grand Marshalls were the Nasty Boys from the 1990 World Champion Reds. Relievers Norm Charlton, Randy Myers, and Rob Dibble had a combined 44 saves as the Reds stayed in first place for the entire season. Other local sports figures were also on hand including the only Bengal in the NFL Hall of Fame (Anthony Munoz) and a key piece of the Big Red Machine (George Foster).

odp2015_04odp2015_05odp2015_06odp2015_07odp2015_08odp2015_09odp2015_10odp2015_11Here are more parade entries that are uniquely Cincinnati starting with some currently active athletes, the Cincinnati Roller Girls. Next is a float from current Cincinnati success story Pure Romance and a car from one time Cincinnati powerhouse Crosley Corporation. In about a month, a new carousel will be put into operation on Cincinnati’s riverfront and a few of the custom made figures filled a parade float. From a little to Cincinnati’s west comes the Rabbit Hash General Store and from the east comes the Cardboard Boat Museum. In the race for Most Flamboyant Cincinnatian, Bootsy Collins might edge out Jim Tarbell by a little bit but neither has been called a wallflower.

od2015_07od2015_06od2015_05I guess the closest I got to Great American Ball Park was Fountain Square and even the tail of the parade had passed by the time I got there. Cincinnati will be hosting this year’s All-Star Game and a count down sign was unveiled yesterday. I grabbed a shot of that and watched some of the game on the big screen before heading up to the City View for dinner and the rest of the game. Dinner was a ‘burger and the game was a rain delayed win for the Reds. The stadium can be partially seen from the bar. The wisp of smoke visible between the couple on the deck is from the win signalling fireworks.

bw201501bw201502The game was over but the birthday celebration had a couple more days to run. Ovenmaster Mary brought peanut butter brownies to Tuesday’s trivia gathering for some low-key great-taste celebrating. On Wednesday, I headed north to Dayton. Last year I finally experienced what many consider Cincinnati’s premier steakhouse, the Precinct. At that time, I stated that a steak I’d had at Dayton’s Pine Club remained a contender for “best ever”. I noted that more research was needed and tonight I went back for that research. The trip was infinitely worthwhile but it didn’t exactly lead to a decision. I’d ordered that Precinct steak with options while my Pine Club cut was unadorned. I had a mild sense of being slightly more impressed with the Precinct meal but realized that might be the crab meat and Béarnaise talking. Both filets were superb. In the end, I decided that debating the merits of steaks at this level or price point is like debating whether a lily looks better with silver or gold gilding. The two restaurants are different but no meat eater with functioning taste buds would be disappointed with either.

bw201504bw201503I made one more stop for birthday week. Pinups & Pints, “The World’s Only Strip Club – Brew Pub”, is just a few miles northeast of Dayton and I have, duh, wanted to go there ever since I first heard about it. The problem has been that I’m hardly ever in Dayton in the evening with free time and that’s when Pinups & Pints tends to be open. The brewery operation is an almost tiny fifteen gallon system and only a single rotating brew is available. At present, that’s Thigh High IPA which was, although IPAs are not my first choice, quite good for the style. Even though there’s no doubt that the brewery is something of a gimmick, it’s definitely not a joke. Owner/brewmaster Scott Conrad is serious about it and puts in the effort required to produce a quality product. I had intended to have just one beer but the dancers were attractive enough to make me order a second. Although two beers wasn’t enough to make the reasonably pretty dancers drop dead gorgeous, a few more might. Nearly naked women that make you want another beer that makes the women prettier which makes the beer taste better which makes the… I think Conrad might be onto something.

History by the Pint

cbc01Ohio has a new brewery. It wasn’t desperately needed, I suppose, but this one is seriously different. There were already more than 100 breweries operating in Ohio and over 3000 in the country. A dozen other states also have more than 100 each. New mini, micro, and nano breweries are popping up everywhere everyday and, while I’m personally very happy to hear of each and every new launch, it’s a fact that the opening of a brewery is not as exciting and rare as it was just a few years ago. In an effort to distinguish themselves, some breweries are targeting the extremities of things that can be measured to claim titles like “the hoppiest” or “highest alcohol content”. How about “most labor intensive”?

Carillon Brewing Company did not set out to be high on the labor used scale. It set out to be high on the historically accurate scale and provide a piece of living history befitting the 65 acre open air museum it is part of at Carillon Historical Park. It just turns out that, when you accurately recreate an 1850 brewery and use it to make beer the same way it was made more than a century and a half ago, things are going to be a bit more “hands on” than is normal today.

cbc02cbc03cbc04Though many are in really old buildings, the working bits of most breweries we see today look pretty modern. There are usually dials and gauges and maybe some electronics. One or more — sometimes many more — big — sometimes really big — stainless steel tanks are what actually identify a brewery to most of us. There are no steel tanks here and no fancy gauges. Definitely no electronically controlled automation.

cbc07cbc06cbc05Here the beer is brewed in copper kettles and fermented in wooden barrels. Heat comes from wood fires and transferring the liquid between brewing steps is accomplished by hand dipping and gravity. One of the few concessions to modern times is the use of city water to save workers the chore of toting bucket after bucket from the nearby Great Miami River.

cbc08cbc09The doors were opened in August with a full food menu and OPB (Other People’s Beer). In October, house brewed root beer and ginger ale were added. Last Thursday, December 11, two of Carillon Brewing’s own ales were introduced. The Porter (from an 1862 recipe) is pictured. I was served both it and the already downed Coriander Ale (1831 recipe) by Frank, the guy in the second picture. Note the period dress. Another modern concession is the use of refrigeration so that us twenty-first century wussies don’t have to drink warm beer. It is anticipated that some varieties will be served at room temperature to provide a true 1850 experience. Only ales will be brewed here. Even though lagering existed long before 1850, most breweries produced only ales until the mid 1860s

cbc10My new word of the day is “brewster”, a female brewer. Carillon Brewing’s Tanya Brock is that and more. Not only is she responsible for turning out something as tasty as those new stainless steel filled microbreweries, she must do it with historically accurate methods and recipes. Oh, and she has to research those methods and recipes, too. This is one unique operation. With justified pride, Brock says, “No one else in the United States is doing a fully-licensed production brewery in a historic museum.”

cbc11cbc12cbc13The brewery is indeed part of a museum and vice versa. Signs, including several on barrel heads, explain brewing and its history in the area. One barrel head contains an annotated drawing of the brewing operation that stands behind it. Employees and volunteers are knowledgeable and happy to answer questions. Brewing currently takes place Wednesday through Saturday though watching it is sometimes akin to watching water come to a boil. Actually, between the flurries of activity moving the brew between steps, it is exactly like watching water come to an almost boil. Still, it’s mighty interesting. Nowhere else can you drink a beer truly made “the old fashioned way” while watching another batch being prepared for a future visit. You’ll leave not only refreshed and educated on nineteenth century brewing methods but, with just a little counting, knowing how may states were in the union in 1850.

EDITED 15-Dec-2014: Within a day of publishing this article, it struck me that the opening paragraph did not at all establish the right tone. In a move that I certainly won’t make a habit of, it has been rewritten. The original follows:

Ho hum. Ohio has another brewery. No, ho hum isn’t really what I want to say. I’m very happy to hear of each and every new launch but it’s a fact that the opening of a brewery is not as exciting and rare as it was just a few years ago. It’s not just Ohio, of course. There are now more than 3000 breweries in the country and new mini, micro, and nano breweries are popping up everywhere everyday. Ohio is just one of thirteen states with more than 100 breweries in operation. In an effort to distinguish themselves, some breweries are targeting the extremities of things that can be measured to claim titles like “the hoppiest” or “highest alcohol content”. How about “most labor intensive”?

Planes and Things

sam26000_extOn Friday, November 22, 2013, a friend and I visited the National Museum of the US Air Force near Dayton, Ohio. Among the many historic items on display is the Boeing VC-137C that carried John F Kennedy to and from Dallas, Texas. The two pictures below were taken of the same general area of the plane just a few hours shy of fifty years apart.

johnsonsisam26000_int

drgobs-2drgobs-1Another museum display recently in the news is associated with the Doolittle Raiders. A “Last Man Standing” pact had been established in which the last surviving Raider would drink a toast to all those who had gone before him.On the most recent anniversary of their 1942 bombing run over Toyko, the last four living Raiders decided not to wait but to have their final public reunion and drink their toast now. That toast took place at the museum on November 9 and can be seen here. Their eighty silver goblets, with the seventy-six belonging to diseased Raiders standing up side down, are displayed at the museum. My report on last year’s 70th reunion is here.

Dayton Remembers

Great 1913 Flood Exhibit at Carillon Historical ParkAt right is a very old light bulb with some very old water inside. The bulb was in a Dayton, Ohio, high school during the 1913 flood and a microscopic hole allowed water to get inside. The worst natural disaster in Ohio’s history struck on March 25, 1913. On March 23, 2013, a permanent display, devoted to the flood, opened at Carillon Historical Park. I saw the exhibit for the first time yesterday.

Great 1913 Flood Exhibit at Carillon Historical ParkGreat 1913 Flood Exhibit at Carillon Historical ParkAn existing building was greatly enlarged to house the display though it’s almost impossible to tell the new from the old. The original building was nearly filled by the Rubicon fireless steam engine. The NCR (National Cash Register) owned engine had been a big help in the flood recovery so adding the display to its home seems appropriate.

Great 1913 Flood Exhibit at Carillon Historical ParkGreat 1913 Flood Exhibit at Carillon Historical ParkThe 1913 flood wasn’t the first for Dayton. The city stands at the convergence of three rivers and a creek so flowing water is ever present. Some actual photographs of the 1866 flood are on display with a larger image of from the 1898 flood as background. There were also major floods in 1828 and 1847. The TV screen with modern style reporting of 1913 weather may look a little corny but it is an effective way of describing the wind, rain, and temperatures that gave rise to the flood.

Great 1913 Flood Exhibit at Carillon Historical ParkGreat 1913 Flood Exhibit at Carillon Historical ParkMany personal stories and artifacts help make up the exhibit. Katherine Kennedy Brown’s diary, with a large “The Flood” headlining the record of her experiences, is one. Another is the dress Grace Hall had made for her wedding. Trapped by the flood, Grace was rescued by her fiance but the dress was left behind. Read the placard here. The three-dimensional map beyond the dress was made by NCR in 1914 to show the extent of the flood. About fourteen square miles of the city were under water at the flood’s peak.

Great 1913 Flood Exhibit at Carillon Historical ParkAttics often figure prominently in floods and they certainly did in this one. “Remember the promises you made in the attic” became something of a rallying cry after the flood. A recreated attic is part of the exhibit but I didn’t expect much when I stepped into it. The moving light patterns on the solid floor looked about as corny as the derby-wearing weatherman. Maybe so but it is also just as effective. As I stood in the small space listening to the sounds of water coming from the dark hole that led the lower parts of the house and the creaking of the structure as water pressed against it, that concrete floor became a lot less solid and I had just a tiny sense of what it was like fearing that one of those creaks would change to a crack.

dayflood9The exhibit loops back to the Rubicon where the story of the birth of the Miami Conservancy District is presented. Many also consider this the birth of modern flood control. Under reminders of those “promises made in the attic”, Daytonians organized and financed a project that has succeeded in keeping Dayton dry to this day. It’s impossible to say just what this hotbed of invention would have become without the flood but it’s fairly easy to guess what it would have become without the MCD.

Carillon Historical ParkCarillon Historical ParkCarillon Historical ParkAlthough the carousel and 4-D theater were here when I visited last year, I didn’t actually see them. The carousel is filled with Dayton icons such as the Wright brothers’ dog and a Huffy bicycle. The animatrons in the theater tell of Dayton history with the help of some seat shaking, wind blowing, and a few dashes of water. The Wright brothers are there along with John Patterson, Charles Kettering, and Colonel Deeds. One of the reasons I’ll be coming back next year is shown in the third picture. Work has just begun on the Carillon Brewing Company which should open by the end of 2013. The brewery will produce and sell beer using historic tools and methods.

The flood was also the subject of an earlier blog entry,  a guest post from HistoricNaturalDisasters.com.

And Now For Something Completely Different:
A Guest Post on the 1913 Flood

There haven’t been a lot of requests/offers to do a guest post on this blog but there have been a few. Until the most recent, all were from sites with nothing but contrived and flimsy similarities. They resembled shotgun “link swap” requests more than anything and that, of course, made them easy to ignore. The latest request was different. It came from some fellow Ohioans who call themselves “weekend history buffs”. Their recently launched website looks promising and their initial round of blog posts involves something that’s been on my mind of late. Exactly one-hundred years ago today, water started spilling into the streets of Dayton, Ohio, from stressed levees. The flood that followed is the topic of this post from the folks at HistoricNaturalDisasters.com.


HistoricNaturalDisasters.com Guest Post


The week of March 21st through March 26th marks the 100 year anniversary of one of the greatest natural disasters to ever hit the United States. A series of storms caused flooding and even tornadoes that ravaged the Midwest and parts of New England during this week in 1913 and left hundreds dead and thousands homeless, and caused billions of dollars in damage. One of the cities hit the hardest by the storm’s fury was Dayton, Ohio.

Located along the Great Miami River bend, Dayton had been prone to major flooding events every decade or so since its establishment in 1796. What happened during the storm of 1913, however, was a flood the magnitude of which was unlike anything Dayton had ever seen. Starting on March 21, storms dumped between 8 and 11 inches of rain on the already oversaturated Great Miami River watershed causing all the rivers in the region to swell far beyond their normal banks. At approximately 6 AM on March 25th, the levees holding back the Great Miami River broke and water began to rush into the Dayton streets at speeds approaching 25 miles per hour.

The waters filled the city so rapidly that most of the residents were trapped in their homes and many were quickly forced to take refuge on their roofs as the waters filled the first and second floors of their homes. Many people were faced with essentially camping on their roofs for days on end as they waited for rescue, which proved nearly impossible for relief workers in boats due to the incredibly strong currents of the flood water. The currents were so forceful in fact that many homes and business were literally ripped from their foundations and carried away by the waters, disappearing from the Dayton streets forever.

Downtown Dayton was among the hardest hit areas, with flood waters reaching a high of 20 feet in some spots. Unfortunately, the destruction was just beginning, as fire took hold where the waters receded, fed by natural gas escaping from broken stoves and gas lines and pushed along by strong winds. An entire block of businesses and factories in downtown Dayton was burned down to the water line, with the fire department unable to get men and equipment close enough to help due to the depth of flood waters.

By the end of the flood, March 26th, the damage was widespread. 14 square miles of the Dayton were underwater, and more than 360 people were dead. Some 20,000 homes were completely destroyed, an estimated 65,000 people were left homeless, and all told, the city had suffered close to $100 million ($2 billion in today’s dollars) worth of damage. The cleanup effort took more than a year to complete and Dayton’s economy didn’t make it back to pre-flood levels until more than a decade after the disaster.

1913: Fifth and Ludlow Streets in downtown Dayton during the worst of the flooding

1913: The ruins of the Lowe Brothers Paint Store on the Southeast corner of East Third and Jefferson Street in Dayton

2013: The corner of East Third and Jefferson Streets as it appears today

2013: The corner of East Third and Jefferson Streets as it appears today

1913: Fifth and Ludlow Streets in downtown Dayton during the worst of the flooding

1913: Fifth and Ludlow Streets in downtown Dayton during the worst of the flooding

2013: Fifth and Ludlow Streets in downtown Dayton as it appears today

2013: Fifth and Ludlow Streets in downtown Dayton as it appears today

Thanks so much to Denny Gibson for letting us share a piece of this historical project on DennyGibson.com. We’re humbled by the interest in this project, and we really hope you enjoyed this snippet of history!

We’d also like to thank some of the great archives and archivists who have done so much work to preserve the amazing history of the 1913 flood, including the Dayton Metro Library and historian Trudy Bell. The amount of history compiled at these two websites is amazing. Lastly, thanks to Jason from InsuranceTown.com, who lent us some of the resources we used to help prepare content for the web and publish our blog and inspired our Mapping History Contest.

Don’t forget to check out HistoricNaturalDisasters.com for more images and for information on our Mapping History Contest – help us figure out the locations pictured in historic photos from 1913 and you could win $100!

The Future is Rosie

Groundhog Day Boonshoft Museum of DiscoveryA far as I know, not a single marmota monax in the city of Cincinnati has shown any propensity for prognostication. That means I have to go to Dayton if I want my Groundhog Day predictions live. But not only is Dayton, OH, a much shorter drive than Punxsutawney, PA, watching the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery‘s Rosie do her thing is a lot less effort and a lot more comfortable than watching Punxsutawney Phil, which I did once, do his. It was even a little more comfortable this year than most. Normally the resident groundhog works in an open wooden shelter beside the museum but, when single digit temperatures were predicted, museum staff decided to move it inside. There is no doubt that both Rosie and the kids (who are very much the target audience) appreciated this. The predicting took place next to a solid wall of windows so that any shadow making stuff that showed up outside could make shadows inside, too. It took a few banana slices from the museum’s Melissa Proffitt to entice a reluctant Rosie to poke through the door but she eventually came out and took a look. There wasn’t a hint of a shadow and Rosie confidently predicted an early spring. Museum President and CEO Mark J. Meister read the proclamation with TV weatherman Chris Mulcahy, who served as MC, looking on.

Boonshoft Museum of DiscoveryBoonshoft Museum of DiscoveryAfter the big event, many of us kids headed off to check out the museum though quite a few did hang around to get a closer look at Rosie. It’s no accident that the museum feels like a combination children’s museum and natural history museum. In 1993, one century after the Dayton Museum of Natural History began, some community leaders got together to explore starting a children’s museum. The philosophies of the new group and the existing one were so similar that the Children’s Museum Board and the Board of the Dayton Society of Natural History merged in 1996 and this is the result. The phrase “…to be the premier regional provider of interactive science learning experiences which enrich the lives of children and adults…” is from the Boonshoft’s mission statement and I think they may have already done that. This is one really cool place. Every single employee I had contact with was extremely friendly and helpful. On top of that, they all seemed to be having a really good time and spoke about the museum with genuine enthusiasm. Seems like this is a good place to work as well as visit.

Boonshoft Museum of DiscoveryBoonshoft Museum of DiscoveryRosie isn’t the only resident of the museum. The Discovery Zoo contains quite a few animals, birds, and other smallish critters. Otters and meerkats are representative of the size of animals on display although the largest resident is a Burmese python that’s nearly 16 feet long and 180 pounds in weight. I understand that he almost never sees his shadow.

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Boonshoft Museum of DiscoveryI think my personal favorites were The Dome and Science on a Sphere. Both are pretty much what they sound like. The Dome is a full-dome screen on which planetarium programs and movies, including some in 3D, are projected. Science on a Sphere is a large ball which can display images on its entire surface. The picture here shows a color coded image of the height of waves during the 2011 Japanese tsunami.

This was Rosie’s second year of handling Groundhog Day duties. She was found injured in Minnesota and is believed to be about three years old. Although she has essentially recovered from her injuries, she is partially blind in one eye so returning her to the wild would not be wise. Ivy, Rosie’s predecessor retired last year then died just a month after Groundhog Day. The average lifespan of a groundhog in the wild is two to four years; In captivity it’s eight to ten. Ivy was right at eleven. Of course, regular meals and good shelter had a lot to do with Ivy’s long life but I’ve a feeling that having a purpose helped a little, too.


Triangle Park - First NFL GameThe Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is in Triangle Park a little north of downtown Dayton. It seems somehow fitting that my visit to Rosie and the park occurred on the eve of this year’s version of the National Football League’s Game of the Century. Until I started putting this post together, I simply assumed that Triangle Park took its name directly from its location in the triangle formed by the joining of the Stillwater and Great Miami Rivers. Turns out that had nothing to do with it. The name comes from a trio of Dayton companies who sponsored a professional football team and gave them the name Dayton Triangles. This was their home. The Triangles were charter members of the American Professional Football Association (APFA) which changed its name to the National Football League (NFL) in 1922. Not only was professional football played here for several years, there is at least a 50/50 chance this is where the very first APFA/NFL game took place. Read the story here then imagine an all Ohio Super Bowl between the Dayton Triangles and the Columbus Panhandles.

My First Voltzy

Voltzy's Hamburger StandRick Volz, a.k.a. Voltzy, has been serving hot dogs and hamburgers in Moraine, Ohio, for twenty years. I know that because several newspaper articles mention it and because, when he found out that Saturday was my first time at his restaurant, Voltzy informed me that he had “been waiting twenty years for you to get your a$$ in here.” Even before that, a couple he had been talking with let me know that I needed to get a slaw dog. They’re only available on Friday and Saturday and I’d be foolish to pass up the opportunity. At some places you’re a stranger only once. At Voltzy’s it’s less.

Voltzy's Hamburger StandI didn’t want to look foolish but I had set out for a hamburger so, instead of the ‘burger and fries I’d been thinking of, my order became a ‘burger and slaw dog and a mug of Frostop draft root beer. The dog was good but the mustard was a little too hot for my admittedly wimpy taste. The ‘burger I ordered was actually called the “Voltzy” (cheese, ham, & onions) and it was great. So was the root beer. The guy who followed me also ordered a slaw dog plus a patty melt with an egg. Voltzy’s menu is an interesting one.

Voltzy'a Hamburger StandVoltzy'a Hamburger StandFor its first eighteen years Voltzy’s Hamburger & Root Beer Stand operated out of a trailer. I know I drove right by it many times during those years but had never noticed it. Only after a permanent building (dedicated to Rick’s mother, Betty Ann) was constructed in 2009 did it even catch my eye. It was only a year or so ago that I figured out it was a hamburger joint that I ought to try. But I don’t pass the spot all that often and, even in a real building, Voltzy’s, sitting back from the street, isn’t a real attention grabber. Earlier this summer, I saw a poster like the one Voltzy is pointing to while standing in line at the Hamburger Wagon and gave the place a little more priority.

I finally made it and I’m sure I’ll be back. That it beat out the Hamburger Wagon in a head-to-head contest is understandable. I personally really like the Wagon’s little fried ‘burgers but acknowledge that part of the attraction is watching them prepared then walking around town or down by the river while munching. Compared to the Wagon’s one item menu, Voltzy’s menu is huge and, as I said, interesting. The Voltzy isn’t the only sandwich with a name. There’s the HollyGirl triple cheeseburger, the Murph double cheeseburger, and the Grossman grilled bologna just to name a few. Many of the hamburgers are also offered in a “hog” version using a patty three or four times the size of the regular,

When it was still operating in the trailer, Voltzy called his establishment “Montgomery County Ohio’s only 7 Star Mobile Dining Facility”. I failed to ask what he calls it now.