Day 1: April 25, 2008
Proclamation Route
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The concert was great. I don't know what is "normal" for Darke County these days but it certainly wasn't crowded. I sat in the third row! But the crowd was enthusiastic and appreciative and so was Eric. I think we all had a good time. I enjoyed the theater, too. Definitely better than I remember it. It was completely refurbished a few year ago so I'm sure that, it some ways, it really is better than I remember it. But I've also learned to appreciate things of this sort and the St Claire Memorial Hall is a real gem. There were no pictures allowed last night but maybe I'll get back when no performance is going on and get a few shots.

I paid for my bed & breakfast with a little housekeeping and a little gardening and was on the road by noon. It was US-127 all the way to its intersection, in Van Wert, with US-30, a.k.a., the Lincoln Highway. I had really planned to dash to Delphos but couldn't resist a few pictures and, even though I had no naturally occurring thoughts of lunch, some pie (old fashioned cream!) and coffee at Balyeat's. The first picture is looking west which is the way I would not be going. Balyeat's is on the right with the Marsh Hotel on the left. Note the Lincoln Highway Control Station signs on the "retired" hotel. Both the park, just up the street from Balyeat's, and the "Lincoln Byway" sign, several blocks away, show that folks in the area take their Lincoln Highway seriously.

That "dash to Delphos" idea was obviously kaput and I set off on the old Lincoln Highway rather than the modern four-lane US-30. These pictures show two sections of old alignment. The first is at Ridge United Methodist Church and the second at Lincolnway County Home.

This very much alive truck stop is near the halfway point between Van Wert and Delphos. Earlier in the day, I noted a quite active truck stop where US-127 and US-33, both two-lanes at that point, cross. I'll get a photo of that on another day.

I've photographed the Van-Del Drive In before and I probably will again. Maybe someday I'll see a movie there.

Since my last visit in early 2005, the city of Delphos has completed a very nice memorial park which combines their tall Civil War monument with modern monuments to soldiers from more recent wars. The second picture is of a one time "Crossroads of America" candidate. The Miami Erie Canal was still in operation when the Lincoln Highway first crossed it.

Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd) were born in Ohio. Gene Autry started out in Texas, grew up in Oklahoma, and lived much of his life in California. But "The Singing Cowboy" may have brought more business to Ohio than Roy or Hoppy ever did. In 1937, a Kenton manufacturer was facing more layoffs and increasingly hard times when they worked out a deal to make the "Gene Autry Repeating Cap Pistol". Millions of the fifty-cent toys were sold and locals called it the "toy that saved an entire town". The only time Gene ever visited the town was August 8, 1938, so I don't know why the annual Gene Autry Days are in June but they are. A good tale of the toy is here.

Kenton was on the initial route of the Lincoln Highway announced on September 14, 1913. Then, at the end of the month, another announcement moved the route north and Kenton, and another county seat, Marion, were dropped. The official explanation is that the new route anticipated improvements in the more direct path between Mansfield and Delphos. An unofficial explanation has something to do with the fact that the new route passed through Bucyrus, home of the Lincoln Highway state consul John Hopley, and Ada, home of governor Frank Willis. Like so many historic roads in Ohio, this one has been expertly researched by Mike Buettner who shares his knowledge here.

I didn't see many Mail Pouch barns today but this Hafer Farms barn at the Hardin-Marion county line goes a long way toward making up for it.

I checked out the Harding tomb and home when I visited Marion last August. At the Harding home, I asked my guide about the town's moving tombstone and received some general directions. I found a huge ball on a pedestal and began taking pictures of it and the several smaller balls that surrounded it. I couldn't find the unpolished spot that was so apparent in a picture I had seen but decided it had been wildly highlighted in the photo and that I was just incapable of seeing it. Then, when I prepared to post the day's report, I was shocked to see that the marker in an online photograph bore the name "Merchant" while the name "Morrow" was on the marker in my photos. Oops. I had goofed and the photos did not get posted. Who would have guessed that a cemetery contained two such groupings?

Today I was a bit more diligent - and had the right name - and found the moving orb with the unpolished spot quite visible. I have found very few clues to the stone's location so will help the next seeker with the information that it is in the north east section of the cemetery at N 40 34.667 W 83 7.212. Don't be fooled by the imposter.

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