In which our intrepid hero encounters an unusual eyrie…
I saw a UFO once. I use this term in its literal sense—an unidentified flying object—rather than as a synonym for “flying saucer” or “alien spacecraft.” I was probably about 13 or 14 years old at the time. It was very early in the morning—I was outside putting stuff in the car, as my family was getting ready to go on some trip (one of our rare vacation trips, I suppose). The sky was perfectly clear and I just happened to notice an odd little circle hovering high up in the sky. It was extremely tiny and I was kind of surprised I even managed to see it in the first place. I couldn’t figure out what it was, and neither could my family. My father suggested getting his spotting scope, so we brought it outside and looked at the object through it. Even through the spotting scope, we couldn’t really make out any details. We eventually decided it was most likely a weather balloon, which I still think is the most likely explanation.
[Remember that you can click on each image below to see a larger, better version]
So the flying object wasn’t exactly invaders from Mars, but it was still extremely cool to see something completely unexpected and unusual. I felt giddy about that all day, that day, and I still love unexpectedly encountering something unusual, like the lifelike statues I encountered in Troy earlier in the year. So when I left Columbus on my 17th excursion, on September 5, 2013, I was hoping I’d find something odd and I was to be rewarded.
Having headed north the previous trip, this time I headed south, towards another section of Appalachian Ohio. Soon I found myself in Hocking County, which is one of the most picturesque counties in Ohio, home to the Hocking Hills, a hilly and forested area that is one of Ohio’s nicer natural attractions. The county seat of Hocking County is the town of Logan (population 7,152, salute!). This region of Ohio was rich in natural resources, including coal, iron, and clay. Unlike many towns in this region of Ohio, Logan has not experienced a population decrease, probably because the area is such a tourist destination, helping to sustain the economy.
A public housing high-rise on South High Street, immediately identifiable as such from the architecture. It was a very sunny day, although it got more cloudy as the day went on.
The surrounding buildings have changed, but it looks like the Logan Monument Company has been there a long, long time. Some quickie research suggests it was founded in 1933—not a great year to start a business (in the middle of the Great Depression), but the one good thing about starting a monument business is that you can always count on people dying.
Sometimes the backs or sides of buildings are more interesting than the front. Two things about this scene in particular attracted my attention—the odd wooden addition on the 2nd floor of the building on the left, and the metal staircase on the side of the same building.
This abandoned structure is on the grounds of Logan Clay Products, which “makes the world’s longest-lasting pipe for sanitary sewer systems.”
The factory was built around 1890 and has structures from a variety of ages.
It also has a variety of odd machinery just lying around. Here we see a frammistan next to a verberflex, surrounded by a variety of hockenpflasches.
Here’s an abandoned old house that the foliage has not quite conquered yet.
I headed south from Logan—I think along SR 93—and soon encountered my odd event for the day. In the front yard of a house in rural southern Ohio I found a huge, crumbling statue of a bald eagle. It seemed to be built on a wire frame, with plaster and other materials put on the frame and painted. It seemed fairly old and was certainly well-worn, with plaster falling off, revealing the wire structure beneath. So, here’s the obvious question: why on earth had someone created a huge statue of an eagle on their front lawn? Was the local high school mascot an eagle? Did someone get struck by an uncontrollable burst of patriotism?
Heading south from Hocking County, I soon ended up in the village of McArthur (population 1,701, salute!), named after a War of 1812 general who was kind of an asshole. Here one can find the Hotel McArthur, a tiny hotel (12 rooms) that dates from around 1840. It was worth $1,913 in 1850. At different times, it was called the Hulbert House, the Will House, the Lantz-Hamilton House, and the Lantz-Hamilton Hotel, before becoming the Hotel McArthur in 1946. Today it is more of a bar than a hotel. It has been repeatedly cited for various liquor violations and overall seems to have a pretty seedy reputation.
A seemingly better alternative (based on customer reviews) for lodging in McArthur is Steele’s Motel, which looks pretty much the same now as it did in the 1950s. A 1959 postcard for the motel described it as “Newest & Finest – Fire Proof – Insulated.”
Southern Ohio is full of ruined buildings that, many decades ago, used to be some sort of business. You’ve got to wonder what this once was.
Some things are all too clear. These stairs—which are far steeper than they somehow appear here—lead to a cemetery.
Not too far away I found this old car by itself in the middle of a large rural lawn.
An abandoned building of the Southern Ohio Coal Company. Southern Ohio was coal country in the early 20th century, but many of those mines played out. I believe the main mine operated by the SOCC was the Meigs #2 Mine near Wilkesville. In the 1990s, it was one of the largest underground coal mines in the United States. In 2001, it produced 2.5 million tons of coal but that had dropped to 500,00 by 2002 and shut down shortly thereafter, having run out of coal.
I like this photograph of a ruined barn just as much for the backdrop as for the barn, as it really shows a typical section of what southern Ohio Appalachia looks like.
I think this rather ornate old house is actually in Wilkesville, a tiny hamlet of only 149 (salute) in southern Ohio.
Even a crossroads locality like Wilkesville manages to have its own mural.
The area has a great many abandoned old houses.
And some much nicer looking Amish houses! Big, white, massive, that’s what an Amish house looks like.
So is this building abandoned or not? You’d sure think it is abandoned, but then it has a satellite dish on top.