Visit Van Wert Historical Attractions and Points of Interest
Central Mutual Antique Fire Equipment Museum
In 1876 Central Insurance Company was founded in Van Wert as a fire insurance company. The threat of disastrous fire was always very real in rural communities and the equipment used to fight fires was primitive. The president of Central Insurance Company. from 1964 to 1994, F. W. Purmort, Jr., took an interest in collecting fire equipment. He was particularly proud of Central’s heritage and gradually built Central’s Fire Museum into one of the finest privately held collections in the United States.
There is a large collection of antique fire toys, a wardrobe of antique fireman helmets and uniforms, a collection of leather buckets dating back to the 1700s and a rare and valuable collections of “firemarks” dating back to 1720.
The Central Fire Museum is open to the public and is located at 800 S. Washington St. For more information, call 419-238-1010 or visit their web site at www.central-insurance.com.
The Brumback Library was built with funds bequeathed to Van Wert County residents by John Sanford Brumback, a former resident of Van Wert. Mr. Brumback’s will directed that enough funds from his estate be devoted to the building and furnishing of a library as a gift to Van Wert County if the county would provide books and maintenance. The Brumback Library stands as the first county library formed in the United States.
The cornerstone of the building was laid in 1899 with dedication on January 1, 1901. In 1991, a 10,500 square foot addition was added along with a complete renovation of the existing structure. The architecture is a combination of Gothic and Romanesque.
With turreted towers and a Ludowici tile roof, the library is nestled amid the trees of the park where it is located. It contains an excellent Children's Department that provides meaningful reading related activities for the youth of the area. The library's total holdings, now numbering over 670,000 items, cover every imaginable topic and genre. There are also 5 branches of the library serving the small villages of Van Wert County. The Library was recently honored by the Library Journal (the oldest and one of the most prestigious library publications) as one of America's Star Libraries. The Brumback Library was ranked 26th in the nation in comparison with libraries having similar budgets and funding levels.
The Brumback Library is located at 215 West Main Street and is open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. For more information, call 419-238-2168 or visit their web site at www.brumbacklib.com.
Van Wert Historical Museum
The Van Wert Historical Society was organized in 1953. Local attorney and teacher, William Fosnaught, donated a building, which was erected circa 1896 by the John Clark family, to the Society. This original property has been maintained as a Victorian home and features many displays.
The 1986 Annex building depicts other phases of early Van Wert history. This building features a historical walking tour of early Van Wert with Native American artifacts, a display of items from war times and pictures of old Van Wert, among many other attractions.
Additional exhibits are on display in a 1951 Pennsylvania Railroad caboose, a 1906 one-room school, an 1860 log house, an 1875 gazebo which originally stood in front of the Van Wert County Courthouse, and the newest addition – a big, red barn which is used to house agricultural related items.
Museum hours are Sunday from 2:00 – 4:30 p.m., March through November or by special appointment. The Museum is also open for many community events throughout the year. It is located at 602 N. Washington Street. For additional information, call 419-771-9851 or see www.vanwert.com/museum
Van Wert County Court House
Built in 1876, the Van Wert County Court House celebrated its 130th birthday in 2006. The structure remains today much as it was when built at a cost of $110,174. The pressed brick used to construct the Court House was made locally at a mill which had been located about where the Van Wert County Fairgrounds is today. The building contains a clock whose bell weighs 2,000 pounds and whose clapper weighs 430 pounds. The Court House is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.
The Van Wert County Court House is located at 121 East Main Street. For further information contact the Van Wert County Commissioners at 419-238-6159.
Delphos Canal Museum
This folklore museum features exhibits on canals (and the Miami-Erie Canal in particular) and canal boat history, as well as artifacts from life in Delphos, Ohio from 1851 on. The museum also includes a 1902 Sears Buggy Roadster, antique tools and manufacturing equipment along with many other displays depicting the history of business, industry, schools, churches, events, homes and more. Exhibits include the only preserved canal boat in Ohio. The museum is located at 241 N. Main Street in Delphos, Ohio (16 miles east of Van Wert). For more information call 419-695-7737 or visit their website atwww.delphoscanalcommission.com
Marsh Foundation Homestead
The Marsh Foundation provides humane, effective behavioral health care to children, adolescents and their families in a variety of settings and modalities. From its beautiful campus situated on the outskirts of Van Wert at 1228 Lincoln Highway, the Marsh Foundation has three residence halls, allowing specialized treatment programs for children and adolescents based upon age and needs, and a school for students in grades 2 – 12.
The was a gift from early Van Wert industrialist, George H. Marsh, who in his last will and testament said, “I depart this life in the hope that the Foundation shall become an instrument of enduring and ever increasing benefit to mankind.” The home of the Marsh family, containing original furnishings from the late 19th century, is open for tours as is the campus itself. For more information contact the Marsh Foundation at 419-238-1695 or visit their web site at www.marshfoundation.org.
Delphos Postal Museum
Experience through sight and sound, the development of transportation from the days of horse drawn wagons to sorting mail on trains and buses. Learn about the evolution of letters, envelopes, manuscript postmarks, and special cancellation of rare stamps. Explore the role of the U.S. Postal Service in WWII. Would you believe there are rules for mailing students' dirty laundry or regulations for the care of cats to keep mice out of the post office? Most items are property of the US Postal Service. Many displays are on long term loan from the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, DC.
The Postal Museum is located at 339 N. Main Street in Delphos (just 16 miles east of Van Wert). The Museum is open from 8:30 - 11:30 AM on the first Saturday of each month or appointment for large groups or alternative viewing hours. Admission to the museum is free although donations are always accepted. For more information call the Delphos Postal Museum at 419-303-5482. The museum also maintains a web site atwww.postalhistorymuseum.org.
While some may think that hanging around cemeteries is a bit ghoulish, we know that the records and headstone inscriptions found there can be incredibly rich sources of historical data. . Information on tombstones could include, maiden names, birth and death dates, relationships, town of origin, military service, and possibly religious affiliation. All of this can lead to other record sources that can further your search. Some ethnic groups even have photographs embedded in the tombstones.
If you’d like to visit the cemeteries of our area, the Van Wert County Ohio Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society has provided an online map of cemeteries in Van Wert County atwww.rootsweb.com/~ohvwogs/CemeteryMap.html Directions to the cemeteries can be found at www.rootsweb.com/~ohvwogs/cemetery.html.
Family Adventures Y.M.C.A.
The Van Wert YMCA has been an important part of the community since its founding in 1917. Today the "Y" features aquatic programs in its pool, volleyball, indoor soccer, gymnastics and tumbling, and basketball in its 5 gyms; fitness classes and personal training programs in its wellness center; and racquetball courts. Outdoor programs include tennis, flag football, and outdoor soccer. Out-of-town visitors may use visit the "Y" for a Guest Pass or use their "Y" membership card from their hometown YMCA. For more information you may visit their web site atwww.vwymca.com or call the Y at 419-238-0443
Y.M.C.A. – Camp Clay
Situated on 252.6 acres of land just west of the city of Van Wert, Camp Clay offers many activities for lots of family fun. Included at Camp Clay is Lake Rotary, a 5-acre lake in the shape of Ohio. Boating, fishing, and swimming are encouraged. A shelter house next to the lake provides shade and picnic facilities. Clay Center is a multi-purpose gym area equipped for indoor soccer, and indoor tennis. The camp also features the Rotary Nature Center housing a live bee hive, snakes, turtles, fish, mice, and other animals as well as rock, leaf, insect, and other environmental displays. A 1-mile hiking trail through a wooded area and a Challenge Course consisting of 35-foot high obstacles provide opportunities for leadership and team building events. Camp Clay is located at 9196 Liberty-Union Road. For more information call the YMCA at 419-238-0443.
For many years Van Wert was reportedly the smallest community in the country with both a YMCA and a YWCA. The local YW provides transitional housing for women and children, a highly successful travel program, swimming lessons, aquatic and land fitness, volleyball leagues, a summer food program and Kid’s Day Out Events. The building offers a, gymnasium, fitness center, aerobics center, a warm water pool with a moveable pool floor, whirlpool, and sauna. The YW would love to welcome any visitor coming through town by offering them a place to stop and get rejuvenated. The YWCA is located at 408 E. Main Street. Check out their web site at www.vanwertywca.com . They may be contacted at 419-238-6639 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kernel Coopers Corn Maze
Climb aboard and get lost in the corn during the 6th season of fun at Kernel Cooper's Corn Maze. Continue to check back to discover what this shape this year's maze will take. Coopers Corn Maze will open this year on Friday, September 9 and ends on Saturday, November 5. Hours are Fridays 7 pm until 12 midnight, Saturdays 1 PM until 12 midnight, and Sundays from 1 pm to 9 pm. Visit their web site atwww.kernelcoopers.com to call them at 419-968-2536 for more information.
Children's Garden & Butterfly House
This garden, located in Smiley Park on the southwest side of Van Wert, provides a hands-on learning facility for the children of Van Wert County. A gazebo is positioned in the center with several theme gardens radiating out from this structure. The first garden is a large butterfly shaped garden outlined by flagstone and incorporating vibrant plantings that butterflies love. A walkway through the center of the garden leads you to the colorful Butterfly House that will have lush plantings of aromatic flowers that attract the many multihued butterflies which will be making their residence in the House. The garden is a work in progress - recently a fossil garden path was dedicated. The path is made up of limestone rocks from both the Silurian (440 million years ago) and the Devonian (410 million years ago) geologic time periods. Dead animals and plants settled into the sedimentary layer and over time became fossils. The fossils on display at the Chidlren's Garden come from the Stoneco Ostrander Quarry near Columbus, Ohio
Old Fashioned Farmers Day
Visit the Van Wert County Fairgrounds the July 4th weekend, where you can take a brief walk back in time and take a look at the history of farming. Events include a tractor parade, tractor pull, auto racing and demonstrations all using antique equipment. There are also craft displays, a flea market, and a trading post. Visit their web site at www.vanwert.com/offa/ for more details.
Van Wert County Fair
The Van Wert County Fair was first held in 1855 and is one of the largest county fairs in Ohio. This award-winning fair was named as a Blue Ribbon Fair in 2003. It draws young and old alike for a week of livestock shows, thoroughbred and standard bred horse racing, pari-mutual betting, concerts, demo derby, tractor pulls, and midway rides. Go towww.vanwertcountyfair.com for more information or call them at 419-238-9270.
Hat Creek Rodeo
Hat Creek Rodeo operates from November to May and offers bull riding at its best on Saturday nights. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the action starts at 7:30 pm. The rodeo features a heated arena, and kids’ activities. Located at 8020 Richey Road, just north off historic Lincoln Highway near Van Wert. Call 419-238-6588 or visit www.hatcreekarena.com for more information.
Van Wert County Wind Farms
Farming has been the backbone of the economy of Van Wert county since the first settlements were established here in the mid-1800's. Farmers have been raising corn, soybeans, and livestock for generations. Homegrown wind power will soon be another crop from the farm fields of the area for generations to go. Travelers crossing Van Wert Courty on U.S. Highway 30 can easily see the vast expense of wind farms (approximately 400 turbines) lying to the north of the highway. Additional wind farms are being considered for central and southern Van Wwert, as well.
Lincoln Ridge is the home of the Lincoln Candle Company where they use proprietary blends of natural soy wax and scents for their unique high-fragranced candles. They also hold a Fall Mum and Pumpkin Festival every weekend in October featuring a corn maze, hay wagon rides to the pumpkin patch for picking your own, and thousands of fall mums, wreaths, and decorations. Lincoln Ridge is located on historic Lincoln Highway at 6837 Lincoln Highway in Convoy, Ohio. Email them at email@example.com more information.
Lincoln Ridge is the home of the Lincoln Candle Company where they use proprietary blends of natural soy wax and scents for their unique high-fragranced candles. They also hold a Fall Mum and Pumpkin Festival every weekend in October featuring a corn maze, hay wagon rides to the pumpkin patch for picking your own, and thousands of fall mums, wreaths, and decorations. Lincoln Ridge is located on historic Lincoln Highway at 6837 Lincoln Highway in Convoy, Ohio. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Van Wert County has a wide array of farms - small and large, specialized and diversified, crop and livestock, part-time and full-time, integrated and independent, as well as niche and broad market producers. Van Wert County’s products have shown up all over the world, thanks to public and private efforts that take advantage of marketing opportunities in foreign lands. Please contact the Van Wert Area CVB at 877-989-2282 or by email at email@example.com if you are interested in any of these agri-tours.
Gina Dairy Farm.
Jan and Gina Fokker and their four children relocated from Veendam, the Netherlands to Van Wert County in 2002. They operate a dairy farm with over 650 cows. A visit to their working dairy operation will show how a family, with the use of new technology, can handle such a large herd of dairy cows.
Walnut Tree Farm for Fun and Profit
This tour will introduce visitors to the business of establishing and maintaining walnut trees as an investment.
Wetland Mitigation Project
See how a local farmer has taken an area of farmland and converted it into a natural planting, water filtering ecosystem.
Thorn Bottom Hunting
400 acres of the best cover anywhere. Ohio's wildest pheasant hunting. At Thorn Bottom you will enjoy a great hunt, but more importantly memories.
Bring your kids, wife, dad, friends and try a hunt with us. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Self-Guided Native Tree Tour
This tour is located at the Marsh Foundation School. Personnel at the Marsh Foundation have identified and signed 30+ mature, native trees of Ohio.
Driving, Flying, Factory, and Walking Tours
Historic Driving Tours - America’s Main Street: The Historic Lincoln Highway. A twenty-six mile section of the first paved coast to coast highway in the United States travels through the heart of Van Wert County. This 3,000 mile “Main Street Across America,’ constructed in 1913, stretched from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, California.
How the Lincoln Highway Began
By 1910, America was mass producing automobiles and selling them to wealthy individuals for recreation. Automobiles were only good for a short drive in the city as long as you didn’t stray too far out, because there were no good roads, gas stations, or repair shops. The roads weren’t marked, there were no real maps, and so the automobile was just a toy for the upper class to be used on Sundays around town. Auto manufacturers knew that if auto sales were to be expanded to the common man, it had to be practical transportation, and for that to happen the country needed a whole network of good roads.
They reasoned that if a single, good road were to be built connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific, communities close to the highway would build connecting roads to it. They believed that eventually, more distant communities would build additional roads to hook up with the new connecting roads, and soon a whole national network of roads would be built on the backbone of the Lincoln Highway, making the automobile a practical form of transportation for everybody.
The history of the Lincoln Highway officially begins September 14, 1913, with a grand announcement of the route of this proposed Lincoln Highway. The driving force behind this effort were industry leaders Henry B. Joy of Packard Motor Company; Frank A. Seiberling of Goodyear Rubber; and Carl Fisher, founder of Prest-O-Lite Company, maker of carbide car headlights, and founder of the Indianapolis Speedway in 1911. This first coast-to-coast route began at Times Square in New York City, and ended 3,389 miles westward in Lincoln Park, San Francisco, passing through a corridor of the United States somewhat similar to the route of today’s Interstate 80. The Lincoln Highway route in Ohio followed a path through several county seats across the North Central part of Ohio by way of the best roads at that time. These cities included East Liverpool, Lisbon, Canton, Wooster, Ashland, Mansfield, Galion, Bucyrus, Upper Sandusky, Lima, and Van Wert.
Soon, the success of the Lincoln Highway inspired the creation of other transcontinental routes and connecting roads, which sped up the much-needed network of roads. Like the Lincoln Highway, these routes and trails were typically marked with symbols and colored stripes, usually on utility poles. With hundreds of different trails throughout the United States (many overlapping), the resulting maze of symbols and colors caused more confusion than convenience. In 1926, the federal government saw the need for a national network of numbered routes and designated much of the Lincoln Highway as U. S. Route 30; the now-familiar federal highway shields started going up, and the signs with symbols and stripes started coming down.
The highway was completed in 1915 at a cost of ten million dollars. Funding for this project came from cash donations from auto manufacturers and accessory companies of 1 percent of their revenues. The public could become members of the highway organization for five dollars.
With state and federal governments soon in the business of road building, the Lincoln Highway Association ceased its operations in 1927. As a final tribute to the historic road and as a memorial to Abraham Lincoln, nearly 2,500 concrete directional posts were set on the transcontinental route, with 241 set in Ohio, some of which can be found yet today.
On September 1, 1928, Boy Scout troops from cities and towns along the highway performed the task of placing the posts. Each of these markers had a smaller version of the traditional red, white, and blue Lincoln Highway logo, a medallion with a bust of Lincoln, and the inscription “This highway dedicated to Abraham Lincoln” embedded into each post.
This era of American history changed us significantly. It helped give rise to the middle class, and changed how and where we live.
Taken from brochure of the Ohio Lincoln Highway Historic Byway
Brochure available by connecting www.historicbyway.com
A Driving Guide to the historic Lincoln Highway
Through Van Wert County is available by contacting the Van Wert Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
A second driving tour, along which you can visit the many small villages and historical markers in the county, has also been developed. Beginning at the Van Wert County Courthouse in downtown Van Wert and weaving around the county on highways and rural roads, you’ll make your way around our scenic county. Using the script and map available from this site or from the office of the Van Wert Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, you’ll learn much about the settlement and history of Van Wert County.
For a unique perspective on the area, get a bird's eye view. For a very modest price you can now take a flying tour over Van Wert County. Tours are available from licensed pilots at the Van Wert County Regional Airport. Contact the airport manager at 419-232-4500 for more information.
Van Wert is experiencing a rebirth of its downtown area. Our community has received nationally certified Main Stree Program status. Please accept our open invitation to visit Main Street Van Wert as we bring back to life the buildings and the streetscape. Main Street Van Wert is more than a destination. It’s an attitude. A walking guide to downtown Van Wert will soon be available from the Convention & Visitors Bureau office.
The Van Wert community is justifiably proud of its industries. We have a variety of area businesses that produce high quality products. Our industries and their employees are equally proud of their work, and there was a time when they were eager to share with the general public insight into their businesses. Times have changed, and with the volatile nature of the world today, all industrial enterprises are required to take extreme measures to protect their safety, the well-being of their employees and the integrity of their products. All industries are severely limiting access to their facilities. Listed below are the major industries of the Van Wert area and a brief description of their business. If you are viewing this website as an leader of a group or organization or a tour operator, please contact the Van Wert Area CVB and we will make every attempt to assist in organizing an industrial tour, but we give no guarantee that such tours will be available.
For more information contact