My Town is always looking for great places not just to travel but to explore, that have a uniqueness that only a small town feel can give you. Recently, we traveled to Vinton County OH.
You may have heard about parts of Southeastern Ohio as a tourist destination for the Hocking Hills region, but have you considered what Vinton County has to offer being that it’s right next door? Not only is it a outdoor wonderland, but Vinton County also has great historical features that come alive when visited!
Family and Budget-Friendly Adventure Awaits!
The single most important asset to Vinton County is its parks and outdoor recreational spaces. Highlights include Zaleski State Forest, Tar Hollow State Forest, Lake Hope and Lake Alma State Parks, The Moonville Tunnel Rail Trail and The Richland Furnace State Forest just to name a few. There are hundreds of hiking trails throughout these parks and 25 miles of biking trails, all bearing relics of the Industrial Revolution (click here for trail info). The special part about these parks is their ties to history that you can still explore today. Such as, remnants of the town of Richland still in the State Forest, and the now famed Moonville Tunnel (Click Here for Vinton County parks list).
Moonville Tunnel Ghosts
There is a very intriguing train tunnel in Vinton County that claims to be haunted. “The legend of Moonville Tunnel states that a ghostly lantern can be seen hovering through the dark depths of the abandoned Moonville railway tunnel on stormy nights. Long ago, Moonville was a small mining and railway town that cropped up during the 1800’s iron boom and eventually disappeared just a little over 150 years later.
The story goes that around 1859, a brakeman for the railway fell asleep and sometime during the night, he was awakened by the sound of his train leaving the depot. He arose, stumbling on to the train track and falling beneath the wheels of the train.
The brakeman never recovered from his injuries and the ghost of the man is said to be seen stumbling down the tracks within the tunnel with lantern in hand, still trying to catch the train before it leaves Moonville Station” (https://vintoncountytravel.com/history/moonville-tunnel/).
Pretty great story right? Well, if you like ghosts. To read more on paranormal activity of Moonville Tunnel and Hope Furnace click here. And if you don’t like investigating the beyond, Moonville Tunnel is now part of a 16 mile Rail Trail that highlights several different Vinton County Parks beautiful scenery. Click here to learn more.
Inns and Institutions
It seems like every small town has unique old buildings that capture your attention and your imagination. It is wonderful when you’re able to visit a town that has invested resources in these institutions and brings them back to life. In addition, another great part of visiting a small town is finding a great local business that has been around so long, it has become part of the fabric of the town, or in Vinton County’s case- of their county. You will find these investments at Hocking Hills Farm and Lake Hope Lodge.
Hocking Hills Farm
You can’t put a price on happiness, but by staying at Hocking Hills Farm, you are going to get a lot of happy for your dollar! Many places claim that they are a place that where you can slow down and unwind, but at Hocking Hills Farm you are in an environment to create memories that just cannot be manufactured.
My Town stayed in Pleasant View Cottage, a three story generational farmhouse built into the hillside. It has three adorable and super cozy bedrooms, full kitchen, living and dining rooms. Hot tub, charcoal grill and fire ring, and it’s all on a whopping 80 acres for you to explore (See Photo Gallery at bottom of article for more).
The history of the farm goes back to the owner’s (Lisa Mader and Jim Thrasher) grandmother Ethel Smith who ran it as a farm in the 1930’s. The farm then passed to the owner’s father Paul Smith who built the main cottage using existing trees from the property. Red Oak trees found on site make up the hardwood floors of the cottage. This is an amazing property to relax, explore, create memories, and make you a part of the ongoing history of Vinton County. Exclusive Offer: Just for My Town Readers- If you book with Hocking Hills Farm in the months of January-February 2021 for two weeknights (Sunday-Thursday), The Third night is half off! Just use Code: MYTOWN2021 when booking.
Additional Fun Right In Your Cottage
They say it’s the little things in life that matter. Well, at Hocking Hills Farm they took one of those little things, and made a great memory and keepsake right in our cottage! Thanks to Hocking Hills Farmers Daughters (traveling crafters), The My Town family had a great project to work on together while enjoying our down time, all in the comfort of our cottage. This was such a special “extra”, and you can do it too. When booking just mention to proprietor Lisa Mader, that you would like to incorporate a project into your stay!
Lake Hope State Park and Lodge
The area for Lake Hope was originally designated during Roosevelt’s presidency with the creation of the Works Projects Administration. The area bears the history of the Industrial Age furnaces used to process Iron Ore, that was the backbone of progress in the United States at the Turn of the 20th century. Today, you can explore the history on the trails at Lake Hope, and stay in their cabins and campsites. In addition, The Lake Hope Lodge has also made a name for itself with outstanding dining, featuring locally sourced produce and meats. Plus there are great historical features in the area like Hope Furnace.
Unique, Interesting, Yours of Vinton County
What is it about a town that makes it special? A local attraction, a family-owned business that has been there forever? A piece of history you can’t find anywhere else, or a bookstore with just the right vibe? Here are a few of the Unique, Interesting, Yours of Vinton County.
The Main Eatery
When visiting Vinton County, you have to go to The Main Eatery in Small Town Mcarthur. This old school walk up stand, is one of those magical places that everything on the menu makes you want to indulge. It’s like going to the fair! Just look at the pictures of the massive tenderloin, and the Poor Man Poutine Gravy and Cheese over fries (like I said, you can induldge, we did!). It’s also a great stop during continued social distancing. Just walk up, and if the weather’s nice, tailgate like My Town! (Pictures in Gallery).
Did you know there is an authentic castle nestled in the Vinton County woods? Thanks to the owners of Ravenwood Castle’s European adventures, these proprietors decided to make a truly unique and unforgettable trip for guests to Southeastern Ohio. Complete with trails on the ground and a tavern- Ravenwood Castle is definitely what My Town calls a unique find!
Le Petit Chevalier Winery
There seems to be many wineries springing up all over American countrysides in the past 10 years, but what My Town loved about Le Petit Chevalier, is its dedication to the history of the 1800’s. The theme here, as with most of My Town’s stops in Vinton County, is tied to its history. And they have a dedication not only to creating wine, but serving others wineries for their needs of sourcing grapes. In addition, new for 2020, check out their airbnb on site!
The Quilt Barn Trail
Quilting has a long standing history in Southeastern Ohio. So much so that you can still take classes and shop for quilts in downtown McArthur. So the Quilt Barn Trail is a pretty unique and fun way to explore Vinton County. It’s also a way to spot beautifully painted landmarks, bearing tribute to a beloved skill. Click here to learn more.
Small Town Story Highlight
One aspect of My Town adventures that always bring joy to our hearts, is a small town success story. For Vinton County, we were intrigued by the story of Buff Lo Dip.
Buff Lo Dip’s current operations are in small town Wellston in Vinton County, OH. The delicious creamy buffalo ranch dip was created by owner Duane Boring in his kitchen, while on a mission to put together a dipping sauce for chicken nuggets. After realizing he put together something special, Duane wrote down his measurements and ingredients and began to dream.
Later that year after many overwhelmingly positive taste tests, Duane set up shop in Athens, OH. There Duane and his team put 283 jars of Buff Lo Dip in a grocery store and sold out in 3 days. After that it was more continued growth, moving production to a commercial facility in Kingston, OH, and now to their home of Wellston. Now, you can find Buff Lo Dip of Small Town Wellston, OH in local grocery and convenience stores in 13 states. A wonderful small town success!
MTT Antique and Market Finds
Great Antique Shops and Farmers Markets are familiar sights in small towns. This includes Thrift Shops, Local Eats, and the like! Below are a list of My Town Musts from Vinton County.
My Town Today has started a referral section of each article. It’s based on visiting a town, and finding out what town the majority of its residents recommend My Town to visit next.
The referral for this entry is: Laurelville, OH. Stay tuned for My Town to pop up there soon.
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