Excursion 23, Part 1 (Northern Exposures)

In which our intrepid hero journeys into the northern wilds of Ohio…

During the course of 2013, I was able to visit several stretches of Ohio’s Lake Erie shore, but one stretch had eluded me—the area roughly from Sandusky to Cleveland (the central shore).  So, on a bright but cold day at the end of November, I decided to complete the chain and headed north across Ohio’s farmland to Lake Erie.

[Remember that you can click on each image below to see a larger, better image]

From Columbus north, the middle of Ohio is pretty flat.  Farmland dominates the scenery, punctuated by the occasional town.  Manfield (population around 47,000) is the closest thing to a population center between Columbus and Cleveland—and I was avoiding even that.


It was a bright, cold morning; the birds weren’t out chirping, but the Obama-haters were.


Little did I know at the time that this would be the winter of the “polar vortex.”   This would greatly hamper my excursions over the next few months.


Even in the flat farmlands of Ohio, there are interesting things to see, like this large abandoned barn.



This is part of a large Colorite Plastics plant in Bucyrus, Ohio.  I was there the day after Thanksgiving, but it looked shut down. Colorite began as part of the World War II plastics boom but was later absorbed by even larger companies.


Bucyrus is a small town (population 12, 362, salute!) west of Mansfield in northern Ohio.  Historically, it has been a mix of a farm town and an industrial town.  It reached a population peak in 1990 but has decreased in size by about 10% since then.  It is not famous for anything, but does bill itself as the “Bratwurst Capital of America.”  I can’t vouch for the quality of its bratwurst, but I will say that, for a small Ohio town, much of it is rather well kept.  For example, the nicely maintained building above, more than a century old, but remarkably pleasant to look at.


Here’s a fairly busy Friday morning, perhaps with a bit of Black Friday shopping going on.


All is not necessarily peachy in Bucyrus, as this empty building illustrates.  It was built by L. Molenkopf and G. Walther, nice German-Ohio names, but although the Molenkopf family has a long history in Bucyrus, I was unable to find out more about this building or its builders.


Bucyrus does have a rather impressive mural, 44 feet high, painted by Eric Grohe.  The mural, titled “Liberty Remembers,” is a veterans memorial—in the mural, “Lady Liberty” is cradling a dying soldier.  There are small portraits of nearly 300 veterans from the area.


Bucyrus, of course, has its share of derelict buildings.  With this one, that first step is a doozy.


I mentioned that Bucyrus was in part a manufacturing town.  It has had a number of factories and industrial establishments, many of them gone by now.  This was once a small factory, originally built in 1920.  I can’t find the original establishment that was there, but I think in the 1960s and 1970s, Checkmate Boats may have had their manufacturing facility here.  Now, most of it is empty except for a small part that houses a t-shirt company.


Another ramshackle Bucyrus house.  It once seems to have had a rather impressive porch, but that has since been stripped away.


North of Bucyrus, we get into the Ohio countryside again, where we can see things like this abandoned one-room schoolhouse, which seems to have been converted into a storage shed of sorts at one point.


I took this shot simply to show the reader how expansive and flat this part of Ohio is.  It’s nothing like eastern Ohio.


A derelict old home that seems to be turning into an automobile graveyard.


Here’s the same place from another angle.  Those are some old cars and you have to wonder if they simply accumulated (“the little old lady who only drove on Sundays”) or if someone actually brought them there.  I am assuming the former.


A lone tree sticking up out of the middle of a field.  Not an uncommon phenomenon in Ohio, though quite rare for this species of tree.


Lastly, a cheery reminder of a distant summer.  I like the “election” sign that is also the business’s name:  “Bloomville for Ice Cream.”  Ice and Cream were the first two words I learned to spell, because my parents would spell it out to each other, as in “Do you want to get some i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m?” so that we kids couldn’t tell what they were talking about.  Bloomville is a tiny village (population 956, salute) in northern Ohio, south of Sandusky.

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