Two-hour Trips From the MOV: Tuscarawas County features historic sites

Photo by Amy Phelps The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum was once known as “Dreamsville, U.S.A.”

Situated north of the Mid-Ohio Valley and south of Canton, Tuscarawas County in Ohio has several small towns that are full of history to explore. While last year’s feature explored the Bolivar-Zoar area and parts of the Sugarcreek area, this year the cities of Dennison and New Philadelphia are spotlighted with their own histories.

The small city of Dennison now holds the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum. Once the depot that train cars passed through on routes from Columbus to Pittsburgh, it was founded as a waterstop in 1864. In World War II, 1.3 million GIs passed through, and was known as Dennison Depot Salvation Army Servicemen’s Canteen, which operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to give soldiers free coffee, donuts, sandwiches and fruit on their way. The soldiers nicknamed the area “Dreamsville, U.S.A.” and remarked how nicely they were treated there, almost like they were back at their own hometowns. The last passenger train stopped there in 1976, and since then, it is on the National Register of Historic Places and the depot and train cars there have been turned into a museum, as well as a diner and a gift shop.

The museum hosts exhibits that bridge all aspects of trains and the depot, as well as the history of the war and features new seasonal exhibits each year. For kids, the museum has a “scavenger hunt” with special stops along the way, that allow children (and adults) to physically interact with the exhibit and learn more. There is a model train exhibit of the area visitors can watch, as well as a movie about its history. The various train cars are all joined together and allow visitors to explore the Baggage Room, the Railway Express Agency, the WWII Hospital Car, a Local History Car and the Feature Exhibit Car, which for 2018 is all about the state’s amusement parks. There is also a special display dedicated to Bing, the museum’s mascot, and a real dog that smuggled on board a ship in the pocket of a coat in World War I and was taken care of by members of the Dennison-Uhrichsville Company H. Bing went on combat situations, spent 58 days in the trenches and was even given citations for bravery. His helmet and cape are on display in the museum as well as several photos.

The museum also offers several fall foliage rides and special programs throughout the year.

About 8 miles away from Dennison is the Historic Schoenbrunn Village in New Philadelphia.

Photo by Amy Phelps The Historic Schoenbrunn Village holds special events throughout the year, like the Lantern Tour.

During the beginnings of the American Revolution, it was the first white settlement in Ohio and west of the Ohio River, where the Moravian missionaries lived in peace with the Delaware Native Americans, both exchanging their cultures with each other.

It grew to include 60 dwellings with 300 Delawares and Moravian missionaries. The group drew up a civil code, which can be seen inside the small museum section, and built Ohio’s first Christian church and schoolhouse. The village was abandoned in 1777 and in the 1920s, 17 of log cabins were reconstructed.

Visitors can explore the cabins, school and church, the cemetery, via a walking tour pamphlet, and there is a small museum, theater and gift shop.

There is also a picnic area on site.

The village holds several special events throughout the year, which include a night-time lantern tour, a Colonial Trade Faire and in which costumed interpreters show how the village would have looked during colonial times.

Photo by Amy Phelps A Native American plays a flute during the Lantern Tour.

In addition, visitors can also see Trumpet in the Land, an outdoor drama written by Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Paul Green, which is an interpretation of Schoebrunn. “It is Ohio’s first outdoor drama,” said Julie Leavengood Stephon, group tour manager for Tuscarawas County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They are close to each other and it’s a cool tie-in.”:

Also in New Philadelphia is Tuscora Park. “It’s a unique city park,” said Leavengood Stephon. “It’s very affordable and has a ferris wheel, mini roller coaster, amusement swings and a 1928 carousel with 36 hand-carved painted horses, one of the few left in the country.” She said it also has a swimming pool, picnic areas, playgrounds and mini golf. “It’s great to get some cotton candy and relax.”

In July, the park will host its Fourth of July festival, with a parade, car show, talent show, family day and races for kids. “It’s a really great time at the park.” Leavengood Stephon said. In addition, the park holds its Summer Showcase with free entertainment in the pavilion all summer.

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* Hitting the Road: Tuscarawas County, Ohio, is Worth the Trip

Photo by Amy Phelps The back of the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum shows what the trainstop might have looked like.

* Getting There: Tuscarawas County is about 95 miles north of Parkersburg. That is around a 1 hour 30 minutes drive via 1-77N.

* Eating: The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum has a 1940’s-style diner inside, The Over the Rail Diner, and several local eateries in the city. In New Philadelphia, there are many local eateries and national chains.

* Shopping: New Philadelphia has the New Towne Mall and a downtown area with several shops and Yaggi’s Cheese House.

* Outdoors: New Philadelphia has Tuscora Park, with amusement park rides, pools, basketball and tennis coursts and a playground. In nearby Bolivar and Zoar (featured last year) canoeing and kayaking is available on the river.

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Photo by Amy Phelps A restored engine sits out front of the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum.

Find It Online

* Tuscarawas County: traveltusc.com

* Dennison Railroad Depot: dennisondepot.org

* Schoenbrunn Village: schoenbrunnvillage.org

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Photo by Amy Phelps Visitors enter the schoolhouse at Schoenbrunn Village, one of the several buildings.

Dennison Depot Hours and Prices

* Monday: Closed

* Tuesday-Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Saturday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

* Sunday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

* Prices: Adults, $8; Seniors and Students, $6; Children 7-17, $4; Children under 7, free

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2018 Special Programs at Dennison Railroad Depot and Schoenbrunn Village

Dennison

* June 22: Bing’s History Day

* Sept. 29: Ohio Railroad Conference

* Oct. 6-7: Fall Foliage Train Rides

* Oct. 11: Nussdorfer Banquet

* Oct. 12-13: Train of Terror

* Oct. 13-14: Fall Foliage Train Rides

* Oct. 20: Ghost Tours

* Dec.7-9 and 14-16: Polar Express

Schoenbrunn Village

* June 18-20: College For Kids

* July 21: Frontier Skills

* Aug. 18: Songs, Stories and Games

* Sept. 1: Jammin’ Food Truck Fest

* Sept. 15: Autumn Lantern Tour

* Oct. 20-21: Colonial Trade Faire

* Oct. 26-27: Sleepy Hollow Performances

* Dec. 9: Lovefeast

Photo by Amy Phelps A furtrader talks in the forest surrounding the Historic Schoenbrunn Village.

Photo by Amy Phelps Inside the schoolhouse, costumed interpreters talk about teaching Native Americans at the site.

Photo by Amy Phelps The baggage car holds a variety of bags that visitors can stick a “luggage tag” on.

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