It has been twenty-six years since we lived where they had fall colors. Now in our new home, we decided to go out for a drive to take advantage of them. In the process, we found ourselves at Historic Roscoe Village in Coshocton, Ohio.
The present village is the recreation of a town on the Ohio and Erie Canal that was wiped out by the Great Flood of 1913 which swept through 20 states.
Coshocton resident Edward Montgomery and his wife, Frances, purchased a toll house in 1961 that served the canal. They then endeavored to revive and restore the 19th Century port town. The toll house was the first to be restored in 1968. The Montgomery Foundation and the Roscoe Village Foundation, created in 1969, still continue the work.
A self-guided tour of the town now includes the Village Smithy, the Hay Craft & Learning Center, the Toll House, Dr. Maro Johnson’s Office, Dr. Maro Johnson’s Home and Kitchen Pantry, the Caldersburgh Pearl Canal Boat Exhibit, the Craftsman’s House and the Roscoe School, all attended by people in period costumes. Another 16 buildings house restaurants and shops.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Roscoe was laid out in 1816 on the Walhonding River near where it runs into the Muskingum River. It was laid out on the opposite shore from Coshocton with the hope farmers would rather bring their business there than pay for a ferry to cross the river. First named Caldersburgh, it was renamed Roscoe in 1830 in honor of William Roscoe, an English historian and a leading abolitionist of the time.
After the early death of its founder in 1924, the town might have withered except that in 1825, Ohio began construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal from Cleveland on Lake Erie to Portsmouth on the Ohio River. That meant trade with the rest of the country and even the world now opened up to this rural area, and Roscoe was on the canal! The first canal boat arrived in Roscoe in 1830. The town became the fourth largest wheat port on a 350-mile canal system that stretched from the Great Lakes to the Hudson River.
But by the 1860s, railroads had begun to take over most transportation. However, while declining, the canal continued to operate until the Great Flood.
There is a canal boat on exhibit, and in the summer, one can take a ride on a restored portion of the canal just outside the town. The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum has American Indian, Historic Ohio, Decorative Arts, and East Asian artifacts collections as well as others and temporary exhibits. When we were in town, they had an exhibit of World War Two posters.
Roscoe’s main street is Whitewoman Street. Mary Harris was captured by the French and Indians in 1704 at the age of nine. Taken to a mission outside Montreal, she eventually married a Mohawk Chief. She and her husband moved to the area in the 1740s. In 1751, Christopher Gist, an explorer and surveyor, learned that her village, the trail to it [present Roscoe’s main street] and the river were all named Whitewoman for her. They were so recorded by Ohio mapmaker Thomas Mitchell in 1755. Subsequently, she returned to Canada where she is thought to have died, the first European woman resident of Ohio.
Charlie Williams, the first male European resident of the area, came in 1800 and opened a tavern before going on to work as a hog drover, ferryman, commissioner, sheriff and state representative.
Date of our visit: 10 Oct 20