Landmarks, autumn foliage highlight colorful tour
DART, Ohio — A stream of cars, trucks and motorcycles weaved their way up Ohio 26 this past weekend for the 28th Annual Fall Foliage Tour and Antique Engine/Equipment Show.
The annual event celebrates the fall change of colors and gives people a relaxing day checking out the many stops along the self-guided tour.
The late dry spell in the region this year has restricted some trees from reaching their full brilliance, but the Little Muskingum Watershed Association’s Fall Foliage Tour was still very beautiful. Folks took advantage of the good weather to experience food, games, live entertainment, apple butter making, visit some historical spots, and see some of the historic covered bridges in Washington County, including the Hills, Hune and the Rinard covered bridges.
Stops along the way included Hidden Hills Orchard, Beihl’s Store, a Mail Pouch barn, several churches, Lawrence School with the local Ohio Horsemen’s Counsel having festivities, the Bohlen Dairy Farm, Parks General Store and the Little Muskingum Watershed Association Antique Engine/Equipment Show.
“It’s a beautiful day (Saturday). It’s going very well,” said organizer Karen Eddy from the Little Muskingum Watershed. “A drive up through here is beautiful and people really like to get out on good days like this.”
The Fall Foliage Tour and Antique Engine/Equipment Show featured tractor pulls, steam engines, apple butter making, vendors, entertainment, great food, an auction and other activities, including games for kids such as a tube slide, tire swing, horse drawn buggies and hay rides. It was held Saturday and Sunday.
One of the stops on the tour was Biehl’s store where visitors could step back in time. The store dates back to the 1800s and ran until October of 1993.
“I was born and raised here,” said Dick Biehl, owner of the store who also ran a 114 acre farm along with being a township trustee.
“Our store carried dry goods, hardware, shoes, clothes, automobile parts and a little bit of everything,” said Biehl.
He explained that the store has a relaxing atmosphere and he and his wife still enjoy sitting in there each morning. His wife likes to play cards and they look forward to neighbors stopping by.
Lisa Almond, one of Dick’s daughters, said she has many fond memories of the store.
“Growing up, my sister and I both helped out,” said Almond. “I remember a lot of good people hanging out at the store talking. It was really fun growing up here.”
“It’s quite nice to stop by and see places like this. It brings back a lot of nostalgia,” said Ron Rinehart, of Torch, who was taking the tour with his wife Phyllis. “This is a lot of fun.”
The Lawrence Elementary School lawn in Dart was another stop. There, the Washington County Chapter of the Ohio Horsemen’s Counsel had plenty of things going on as a fundraiser.
“The chicken and noodles are delicious” said club vice president Darrell McKay of Newport. “This year we joined the fall foliage tour. We have food, an auction, pony and horse rides and vendors selling things.”
The local chapter has150 members. One of the things they do is help the Wayne National Forest by clearing and maintaining trails.
The main feature of the fundraiser was the horse apple bingo contest. Tickets were sold and land was sectioned off in 10 by 10 foot sections and randomly numbered. Counsel President Brent DeWees explained that two horses would be let loose and whatever square the first horse does his business in will win a first prize of $150, the second would win $75.
“I like this. It’s beautiful perfect day today,” said Kim Poole, of Parkersburg, who was taking the tour with family members visiting from South Carolina. “We just thought we’d get out on this gorgeous day and take a drive and see what’s going on.”
Park’s General Store in Marr is a new addition to the tour this year. It is located on Rt. 260, slightly into Monroe County.
“This store has been here since 1874 and it’s been in my family since 1938,” said owner Bill Park.
“My grandfather, Reese Parks, bought it and later, my dad, Walter, ran it,” said Bill, adding his family heritage in the area goes way back to his Great-great grandfather Wesley, who served in the Civil War.
Many people travel great distances to go on the scenic driving tour. One such example was Rich and Deb Gabel of Toledo, Ohio, who were enjoying a weekend in Washington County celebrating their anniversary and decided to take in the fall foliage tour.
The Gabels said this was their second year in the area. They were here last year and liked it and decided to come back to celebrate their anniversary by staying the weekend, go antique shopping, go on the Valley Gem and enjoying the fall foliage tour.