Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Historic Village of Zoar

Photos by OHventures

It's likely that you have never heard of the tiny town of Zoar before now. But the job of OHventures is to bring to light some of the lesser known hot spots that are worth a visit. With 169 residents in the 2010 census, this historic village is one that is sure to turn heads whenever driving through.

On my annual camping visits to Atwood Lake in Tuscawaras County, I would always slow the car down and rubberneck my way through what I later learned was the Village of Zoar. It doesn't take long to drive through, yet there is much to see. The buildings are perfectly puritan, some dating back to 1817 when a group of German Separatists were seeking escape from religious persecution in their home country.

Heading here is like taking a quick journey back in time at a speed of 88.8 miles per hour with Marty McFly. The architecture consists of colonial-looking masonry, ornate observation towers (like that on top of the Zoar Hotel - pictured above), and even homes that resemble log cabins. You will stumble across centuries-old buildings with old fashioned trades, such as the cobbler shop, the blacksmith, and the weaving house

Me & Slider hanging out at the Zoar Town Hall!

Many of the buildings are open to the public through educational tours that showcase how things were done in the olden days. You can witness butter churning, bread baking, and tinsmithing on a hands-on guided tour all year long, as well as special Christmas tours to see the village decorated for the holiday season. The Old Cider Mill is currently an antique shop, as well as a bed & breakfast to those who want to stay overnight and get the full experience! Ghost tours, Civil War reenactments, the annual Harvest Festival in August, and nearly year-round crafts are highlights of the culture to be experienced throughout the year in Zoar.

As a mere passer-by on my visit, I made sure to take a stroll through the Zoar Garden, which serves as a centerpiece of sorts for Zoar. I also stopped by Westbrook's Cannery & Bulk Foods to taste homemade jams, sauces, relishes, pickles, and other canned concoctions. It was the perfect spot for Christmas gifts, as I bought a jar of their signature pepper butter for my dad (don't worry, he will not read this, as he is computer illiterate). The cannery also offers private canning classes on their old fashioned stove, something to keep in mind for a future OHventure!

I also made a visit to the Zoar Store, which is also a great place to get gifts, and to learn a ton about the history of Zoar. There are many books that explain the origins of the town, and a ton of locally made items such as pottery, ornaments, decorations, and clothing!

Also of note is the Bimeler Cabin - the oldest standing building in all of Zoar (pictured above)! It's remarkable to see such a piece of history right in front of your eyes, and makes you appreciate the fact that all that is in Zoar has been maintained so well over the years. Zoar is currently named one of America's most endangered historic places, and is facing threat of flooding. Because of this, they have launched a campaign to save the village. You can help leave a legacy for future generations with a custom engraved brick to be placed on new sidewalks in town, or by contacting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to urge them to save Zoar.

When you're in the area, you can try hiking on the trails of the Canal Lands Park and Zoar Trail Head or have a glass of wine at the School House Winery in Dover (a short 10-14 minute drive down the road). Along the way is also the Humane Society of Tuscawaras County, where I urge any and everyone considering to adopt a dog or cat to visit. If you are not interested in adopting, the Humane Society is in dire need of volunteers to walk the dogs, and donations of blankets, beds, and dog food are always appreciated!

Make a trip to Zoar and take a trip back in time!

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