Monthly Archives: January 2013

Mile 259 – Ohio Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio

The facade of the statehouse.

The facade of the statehouse.

When the National Road was built, it carried transportation importance not only as a gateway west, but also as a link between western state governments and the East. The road itself passes through three former state capitals – Wheeling, W.Va. (several times in the late 1800s), Zanesville, Ohio (1810-1812), Vandalia, Ill. (1819-1839) – and two current state capitals – Columbus and Indianapolis.

The dome in the rotunda of the statehouse.

The dome in the rotunda of the statehouse.

In all of these locations, the National Road passes directly by, or very close to, the state capitol buildings. In Columbus, the Ohio Statehouse fronts the road (Broad Street) on its northern side.

The current statehouse was completed in 1861, after fire destroyed a previous building. The building is consistent with Greek Revival architecture, and the self-guiding tour brochure states that the idea to construct the capitol in this style came from a desire to create a structure that represented democracy, which was, of course, developed in ancient Greece.

Inside the statehouse rotunda.

Inside the statehouse rotunda.

The statehouse was renovated during the early 1990s, which restored much of the detailed interior architecture seen in the building today. In addition, the statehouse was fused with the Senate Building via an enclosed atrium, and the lowest level of the structure was renovated to serve as both a lower connection between the buildings and as a better facility for visitors.

The entrance to the Statehouse Museum.

The entrance to the Statehouse Museum.

Visiting the statehouse today is quite easy. A public parking garage exists under the building, accessible from Broad, Third or State streets. The garage leads directly into the lower level of the capitol, where a small, but modern, interactive museum features exhibits documenting politics and government in Ohio. Guided tours are free and given throughout the day, or guidebooks are available for a self-guided tour, which is what I did.

The mural for which the "Map Room" is named.

The mural for which the “Map Room” is named.

Because the statehouse and Senate Building are essentially one building, it’s a little easy to get disoriented at first. However, the statehouse is secured with a division of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and those officers can be of assistance.

The self-guided tour leads through each level of the building, noting the function of nearly every room on each floor. The guidebook provides detailed information on each location, and also contains photos and descriptions of what parts of the capitol looked like before the 1990s renovation/restoration.

Ohio Statehouse Resize (5)One aspect of the Ohio Statehouse that makes visiting pleasant is that the whole building is very open and visitor-friendly (at least when the Ohio General Assembly is not in session). Visitors are able to walk freely in and out of the building’s entrances, and even the House and Senate chambers are open to the public (again, as long as the legislature is not in session). This atmosphere allowed me to enjoy and take in the building at my own pace, without feeling rushed.

The highlights, at least in my mind, are The Rotunda, the House and Senate chambers, the Statehouse Museum and the grounds around the building. Of course, there are scores of other features the capitol has to offer.

The Ohio Statehouse is open to the public Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ohio Statehouse Resize (6)


Mile 189 – Fox Run ‘S’ Bridge, New Concord, Ohio

Fox Run S Bridge ResizeJust west of New Concord, Ohio, is one of the state’s relatively numerous ‘S’ bridges still standing – the Fox Run ‘S’ Bridge – right up against a four-lane segment of U.S. 40.

Built in 1828, this bridge seems to be unique in that I’ve seen it under three different names: the “Fox Run S Bridge,” the “Fox Creek S Bridge” and “S Bridge II.” Like most of the S bridges in Ohio and Pennsylvania, a small park surrounds the structure, which is open to pedestrians. However, as I found out, the bridge isn’t very friendly to visitors in the winter, as the small designated parking area and the bridge itself aren’t kept free of snow.

A marker at the bridge.

A marker at the bridge.

An information marker  on the east end of the bridge gives a little more information than a standard state historical marker, including mentioning that “the Fox Creek Crooked Creek area [was] a bastion of Abolitionism before and during the Civil War,” that every township in Ohio along the National Road doubled in population in a decade after the road was built and that the National Road was bricked over in 1919 to transport heavy equipment during World War I. Apparently, this bridge was the last part of the road to be bricked over. The bridge was used at least until the 1930s or 1940s. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

If I get a chance, I would rather see this bridge without snow on the ground. There’s supposed to be a path that leads down to the creek to let visitors see the structure closer. Parking (when there’s no snow on the ground) is located on the west end of the bridge.Fox Run S Bridge Resize (2)


Mile 180 – Theo’s Restaurant, Cambridge, Ohio

Theos ResizeIt seems that when a restaurant advertises the fact that it’s been around for decades, said establishment often sticks to decor associated with a set time period in American history. But that doesn’t appear to be the case with Theo’s Restaurant in downtown Cambridge.

Theo’s traces its history to 1931 when it opened as a Coney Island-style hot dog establishment, says the restaurant’s website. Since then, the place has passed down though several generations of owners, all related to varying degrees. After a fire in the 1980s, the restaurant was rebuilt, retaining the “Coney Island Lunch” name (which explains the more modern decor in the restaurant). It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the restaurant was renamed “Theo’s.”

The bar area of one of the dining rooms.

The bar area of one of the dining rooms.

Remnants of the eatery’s original purpose still survive, such as a Coney Island hot dog menu in the far dining room. The restaurant also has retained the locally-famous Coney Island dogs on its menu.

I was able to stop in for lunch on a recent trip to Indiana, and I was thoroughly impressed. The interior is large, and divided into two distinct dining rooms, one of which contains a bar. I had the “moist and sassy” version of the grilled chicken breast sandwich (I tend to be a sucker for menu items that are given a weird name). This version of the sandwich features the chicken marinated in a wine, olive oil, lemon and spice blend, which honestly was one of the best marinades I’ve ever had – not too sweet, not dripping wet and not hot. The grand total for my sandwich, fries and drink was under $7.

The "moist and sassy" version of the chicken sandwich.

The “moist and sassy” version of the chicken sandwich.

Theo’s seemed really down-to-earth, despite the fairly modern decor. The staff was all very friendly and made sure everything was satisfactory. The other thing I really liked was the variety on the menu. This isn’t just an average sandwich and fries place. For example, one of the specials the day I visited was halushki – a Hungarian entree based on soft noodles and cabbage. The Theo’s recipe included ham.

Theo’s is located at 632 Wheeling Ave., right in downtown Cambridge along U.S. 40.  It is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Daily specials and the regular menu are updated on the restaurant’s website. Parking is available on both sides of Wheeling Avenue in Cambridge, and is free for two hours – plenty of time to eat. Theo’s can be reached at 740-432-3878.

A page of the menu.

A page of the menu.

The main dining room.

The main dining room.

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