Creative Communities ‘A-Z’

It might be a bit confusing to know whether or not you are traveling on The Winding Road.  Our map gives an idea about the general area we are talking about, though most involved in this effort don’t mind much about county lines, nor do visitors. Some of our stakeholders say, “East of U. S. Route 33, there’s a lot to do, see and learn!” Yet, we are pretty much tied up with the western portion of the Hocking Hills, too. We say The Winding Road is about creating a sense of place in southeastern Ohio around the Hocking and Muskingum River Valleys (and yes, we include the Raccoon Creek Watershed in our vision, too). Absolutely, our rivers, creeks and forests are not to be forgotten and help to define our cultural landscapes.  So, how about we say its all of the above, perhaps best described as “Creative Communities A to Z” with ‘A to Z’ suggesting inclusion, as well as two of the region’s most iconic communities Athens to the south and Zanesville to the north and all that lies in between.  So with that said – let’s get on The Winding Road!

The most important part of this brand is our belief in the future of communities–those both described as communities of people with common interests and as physical communities where people live, work and play in proximity to each other.  The Winding Road catalog is very much about the experiences and products created by people with common interests in the arts, local food, history and the outdoor recreation/environmental communities.  But we want to take a moment to talk about physical destinations in our region that are working hard to be centers of creativity and destinations for visitors.  We can’t feature them all, but what follows is a look at a few worth your attention as you travel The Winding Road.

Athens   Arguably the most fascinating city in The Winding Road region is college town Athens, home to the first public university in the Northwest Territory. Athens and its surrounding hillside and communities hold many treasures: its local foods scene with one of the nation’s best Farmer’s Markets and iconic local food producers such as Shagbark Mill, Vino De Milo, and nearby Snowville Creamery. Local eateries abound with eating experiences at the worker-owned Casa Nueva, Village Bakery, and Burrito Buggy emblazoned on the pallets of all who pass through these hills. There’s the Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center, Ohio Brew Week, Boogie on the Bricks, the Athens Film Festival, and the annual Halloween bash! Social consciousness abounds here with Bounty on the Bricks, Martin Luther King Day, Veteran’s Day, and courthouse peace vigils bringing the populace to the streets So does music, with live bands in bars on Court Street, concerts and the Marching 110, the most exciting band in the land, keeping all in dance mode. OU sports, theater and spring fests add to the charm. And then there’s the architecture,the idyllic college green and campus, the Ridges, and brick streets among the most cherished being the home of Court Street Shuffle. So if you want to start your exploration on the Winding Road, begin here, or save the best for last, on the banks of the Hocking River way down in Athens County where creativity is a staple.

Amesville   Small town living couldn’t be finer than in this tight-knit Athens County hamlet (population 154) on the back road from Athens to Marietta (Ohio Route 550). Its claim to fame in Ohio history came in the year of statehood when settlers sold pelts back East to raise funds to buy books. The library became known as the Coonskin Library, the first in the Northwest Territory. The Coonskin Museum, located in the old school cafeteria, opens upon request. Mayor Gary Goosman and allies are known for organizing dinners featuring local foods, gardening classes, and even a quirky inauguration ball. Events are held at Village Productions-where yoga, dance, music, pilates, drumming and more take place ( Don’t forget the Amesville Firemen’s Festival the third weekend of every July. Outside of town you’ll find organic farmers including the well-established Green Edge Gardens, and the upstart Homecoming Farm started by returning son John Wood purveyor of fresh maple syrup each spring.

Chesterhill   Tucked away in the hills of Morgan County, Chesterhill (population 285) comes alive today with music and history. Union Hall Theater (, a second story opera house above the library, is home to the Annual Ribs, Rhythm & Blues Festival each June. This racially integrated community boasts early Underground Railroad history dating back to its roots in the Quaker community. A simple Quaker Meeting House still holds meetings each week, and the rock cave outside of town where freedom seekers were hidden is owned by the town and available for public visitation. The town is home to the Southeastern Ohio Multi-Cultural and Genealogical Center which hosts a series of educational events, and will be a stop on the Crossing the River.

Little Cities of the Forest Region (Rendville-Shawnee-New Straitsville-Glouster, etc.)  Using their rich history, the surrounding Wayne National Forest and Burr Oak State Park as assets, this series of boom-to-bust coal mining communities may be remnants of their former selves, but don’t be surprised to find unique events and civic revival taking place here. Shawnee’s Historic District is an architectural mecca and home to the Tecumseh Theater where restoration is taking place in the midst of cultural activities in the Tecumseh Commons including concerts, the annual Little Cities of Black Diamonds Day, and Buckeye Trail events (world headquarters located here as well as the Run for the Blue Blazes). Here and at nearby New Straitsville, early labor union history abounds and is best reflected upon at Robinson’s Cave (a short hike up the hill from Main Street). Also celebrated is the town’s designation as “Moonshine Capital of the World” at the now legal Straitsville Special Moonshine Distillery and the annual Moonshine Festival. Take Ohio Route 13 in the upper Sunday Creek Valley to former mining town of Rendville where homage is paid to its rich African American history each at Emancipation Day and celebrates art at the Rendville Art Works open weekdays in the re-purposed Baptist Church. Cruise down scenic Route 13 through the Wayne and Burr Oak State Park where funky, but soulful Glouster appears with a love for sports, public art, an amazing town mural and a renovated train depot where quilts and rag rugs are fashioned by elders several days a week. Best know as the Little Cities of Black Diamonds, these towns are now Little Cities Of the Forest.

McConnelsville The county seat of Morgan County is a picture out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Situated on the wide and lazy Muskingum River, the town green is home to the Howard Chandler Christy Arts Festival each summer and Morgan County Heritage Days each October. The Twin City Opera House is not to be missed. Home to affordable second run movies each week, the Ohio Valley Opry and other community events, this is Ohio’s longest continuous operating opera house. The Morgan County Historical Society takes their history seriously with a massive collection of artifacts, including the expertly appointed Button House (ask for the guided tour). On the south side of town, one can access the historically significant hand-operated locks of the Muskingum River at Lock # 7.

Nelsonville   The original “little city of black diamonds” built on the riches of coal and clay, Nelsonville is The Winding Road’s emerging “Renaissance Town.” The restoration of Stuart’s Opera House, late last century, signaled a new era as a historic arts destination within shouting distance of both Athens and the Hocking Hills, arguably two of the region’s most visited destinations. Exhibits, music, and art galleries, anchored by Starbrick Clay, Paper Circle, Majestic Gallery, the charming Fullbrook’s Cafe coffee house, and the Nelsonville Emporium, anchor lively thematic Final Friday events each month. Roots music at Stuart’s and the annual Nelsonville Music Festival brings thousands of music lovers to town, joined by throngs of others riding the Scenic Hocking Valley Railroad. Young people are plenty here as Hocking College’s unique array of course offerings ranging from Natural Resources to Culinary Arts also bring life.

Somerset   Early Ohio and Civil War history oozes from the bricks of this town situated along Zane’s Trace, the first pioneer road through Ohio. A federalist style courthouse, picturesque public square and multiple restored commercial and residential properties, including an early tavern dating to 1805, make walking this town a pleasure. On that walk one will find several top-notch eateries, namely the Clay Haus and Sophie’s Tea Room, and an early Ohio Lutheran Cemetery. An outstanding Saturday morning farmers market and annual events such as Oktoberfest and 4th of July Parade and the Holy Trinity Church picnic build a strong sense of community. The population of this northern Perry County town has remained consistent for over 200 years, and remarkably the town is self-contained with an old-style market, hardware and snack bar and an outstanding Saturday morning Farmer’s Market. These features and access to Columbus, Newark, Zanesville and Lancaster makes Somerset a great place to live. Winding Road partner Tom Johnson is the mayor and always has new activities going. Among those in the incubation stage are a Community Kitchen and Emerald Necklace walking trails. Check on his progress when in town.

Zanesville   Known as the Y-City for its historic Y-Bridge, Zanesville sits on the National Road (Visit the National Road/Zane Grey Museum) and is the northern most point along the Winding Road. Arts, clay, and history anchor this town which shares a strong ceramics history with the nearby communities of Crooksville and Roseville. Art is exemplified at one of the best small city art museums in Ohio (Zanesville MOA), the Y-City Arts Festival (Au-
gust), Second SaturdayArt Walk, Zanesville Art Prize (every other year) and All-Ohio Contemporary Ceramics Competition and Show(page 42). Best galleries include the Michael Seiler Gallery, Yan Sun Gallery, Alan Cottril’s amazing bronze statuary studio. “Art on Tap” every third Tuesday at Weasel Boy Brewery (open Tuesday-Saturday) allows you to make art while drinking the town’s premier microbrews. Next door is the unique Muddy Miser Restaurant overlooking the Muskingum and promoting the history of famed Western writer Zane Grey. Restored homes in the Putnam District date back to Zanesville’s role as Ohio’s second state capital. African American History is celebrated at the Gant House. Coffee and ambiance are abundant at the Treehouse downtown, with Zak’s Restaurant being a great place for date night and contemporary decor in a warehouse setting.

Guides of Appalachia

Microsoft Word - MLK 2015 NEW Bio DAVID and KATHERINE MITZELii.d  David Mitzel Foot by Foot, All Ohio Contemporary Ceramics Competition and Sale    David is the retired director of the Muskingum County Community Foundation, which he built into one of the region’s premier community foundations. He is a NAI Certified Interpretive Guide with a passion for the arts, community and historic preservation. His active role in historic preservation in various Zanesville neighborhoods, including the Putnam District, has helped change the face of Zanesville. His support and promotion of the arts in Zanesville has contributed greatly to the growing arts and ceramics scene there.

Jeff Wunderly Photo   Jeff Wunderly,  Labors Crossroads                                                                    Born in Springfield, raised in Clark Co. – corn and soybean country, catching snakes and running barefoot on gravel roads. Jeff came to OU in ’84 and left in ’90 to travel and work out west for a few years. Jeff has lived in AZ, NM, and VT since but has always found his way back. Allen Eckert’s Frontiersman sparked his interest while in college and has inspired a lifelong self-education in American History. Jeff is a two term AmeriCorps member, Outreach Liaison for the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council and Certified Interpretive Guide. Jeff lives in Athens with his wife Deb, two cats and two Beagles.

Joseph Snider Gravestone and Randolph Mitchell House Tour                                                          Snider is an Ohio archaeologist, historian, and native of Perry County. He has worked for a variety of Cultural Resource Management firms, historical societies, including the Perry County Historical and Cultural Arts Society, and house museums, most recently as an archaeological field assistant for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s Archaeology Department at Monticello. Noteworthy research includes recent investigations at the Randolph Mitchell House, the subject of several forthcoming publications. He regularly presents papers at archaeological and historical conferences throughout the Ohio Valley.

Saynna Roberts Photo   Shayna Roberts, McConnelsville                                                                                           Shayna is a Morgan County native, born and raised in Malta, Ohio. A graduate of Ohio University with a degree in Media, she has returned to Morgan County to share her passion for this beautiful place. Shayna is currently an OSRC AmeriCorps member serving at the Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau and a Certified Interpretive Guide. She is available to guide visitors through her county and is happy to answer any questions you have about the about Morgan County experiences. You can contact her at                  740-962-4909 or

Bobby Teal Photo   Bobbie Teal Atlas, Shoot the History                                                                                          With a direct documentary focus and strong interest in black and white photography, Bobbie enjoys sharing her passion through teaching and workshops. Atlas also finds landscape photography exciting and searches many states for beauty that she records with a converted infrared camera. Her workshops are notable for helping students shape the image through the understanding of photographic composition; she is succinct and thoughtful with critiques taking students to the next level of possibility. Bobbie holds a     B. Art Ed., and an M.A in Photography and Film Making.

Joe Brehm, Birds in the Hills                                                                                                                             Joe’s obsession with the outdoors started when hise dad took his brothers and he for walks through the woods near his childhood home near Zanesville when they were old enough to walk. They tracked deer, raccoons, foxes, and learned to be comfortable outside. Joe earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Montana, and Environmental Studies at Ohio University. Since 2010, Joe has coordinated Rural Action’s long-standing Environmental Education program and enjoys sharing his passion for the natural world with others.

Andrew Bashaw, Run for the Blue Blazes                                                                                                     Bashaw is the Executive Director of the Buckeye Trail Association, hiker and conservationist who resides in Glouster with his wife Claudia and daughter Adelaide. He earned his Master’s degree from Oklahoma Sate University, worked for the North Country Trail Association as the Regional Trail Coordinator for Ohio and Pennsylvania, and with Rural Action’s Sustainable Forestry Program as an AmeriCorps member. Andrew’s Buckeye Trail Association statewide office is in historic Shawnee, amidst the Wayne National Forest, where he concentrates on promoting, building, and maintaining, Ohio’s 1,400+ mile state trail.

Cheryl Blosser, Mineral Region Tour                                                                                                        Cheryl is one of the region’s most knowledgeable local historians, with extensive knowledge of the Hocking Valley Coal Boom Era (1870-1925). A NAI Certified Interpretive Guide, Blosser gives regular tours and presentations for the New Straitsville History Group and the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council. Cheryl is a research historian and office manager for the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council and Vice President of the New Straitsville History Group. She is co-author of the book Agents of Change: The Pioneering Role of the Miners of the Little Cities of Black Diamonds in the Nations Early Labor Union Movement.

Nancy Tatarek Photo   Nancy Tatarek, Anthropology Alive!                                                                                   Dr. Nancy Tatarek is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Ohio University in Athens. Her work with the Appalachian Peoples Project has led she and her students to a deeper investigation into the lives of the miners of the Little Cities of Black Diamonds region, particularly in Murray City and New Straitsville. A prestigious University Professor Award Recipient at OU, she teaches a wide range of courses including Biological and Forensic Anthropology. Nancy supports efforts to bring history to life in the region serving as an volunteer with the New Straitsville History Group and the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council.

Tom O’Grady, Finely Crafted in Ohio’s Hill Country                                                                          O’Grady is one of the region’s premier historians with knowledge of Ohio History topics from A to Z. He is president of the Ohio Hill Country Heritage Area Board, Executive Director of the Athens County Historical Society (Southeastern Ohio History Center) and founding director of the Athens County’s Recycling and Litter Control program. In his spare time O’Grady teaches Astronomy at Ohio University and is an avid photographer of the regional landscape. His knowledge of Ohio politics, architecture, transportation and industrial history make him a fount of knowledge which he shares with understanding and energy.

George Eberts Photo   George Eberts, Asylum Tour                                                                                               George is an expert on the history of the Athens Asylum, teaches astronomy at Ohio University and is a retired employee of the Athens Mental Health Center (aka Athens Asylum). George’s passion for the hospital continues in his retirement. He has served as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Athens Behavioral Health Care Center, the AMHC’s predecessor, and now provides monthly guided tours of the Athens Asylum Grounds for the Athens County Historical Society.

Steve Glade, Wetlands at Sunset – Birds by Kayak – Grapes to Wine – Brewology – Perry County Bronze Tour – Gravestone and Randolph Mitchell House Tour                                                               Steve is a native Ohioan who, after teaching in public schools for 36 years, retired and started working on his bucket list. Now an AmeriCorps member, he is in service at the Perry County Soil and Water Conservation District. He is a current member of the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists organization and is a certified interpretive guide and kayak instructor. He has backpacked the Adirondack mountains and becoming an Adirondack 46er by climbing the 46 highest peaks. Steve lives by a  simple motto, “Life is better with a tree in it.”

Carla Photo   Carla AnkromTurtles View Tour                                                                                     Carla, originally from Pennsville, Ohio, grew up in Zanesville and now resides in New Straitsville where she owns Antiques on Main located in one of the iconic overhanging porch roof buildings in historic Shawnee. Ankrom, a graduate of Tri-ValleyHigh School in Dresden and semi-retired from a 36 year career in dog grooming is now heavily involved in the Historic Village of Shawnee and learning the importance of preserving the local history of southern Perry County. She has a passion for the history of the region and sharing the unique qualities of this area with guests as a Certified Interpretive Guide.

Howard photo   Howard Peller, The Basket Farmer & Rosehill Design                                             Howard and his family live on a heritage homestead in Roseville which was founded in 1796. The farming practiced on the 140 acre plot is based on natural methods which have created a sanctuary for wildlife, healthy food and artisan crafts. Howard continues his appreciation and work with nature. Practicing coppicing which is a way to manage, grow and harvest woody plants such as willow, Howard crafts living sculpture, fencing, baskets, brooms. In addition, his wife Maddy continues the tradition of Blue Bird Farm pottery. Howard has continued to design and craft his work as both an international designer and regional artisan.