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I-71 South
Cleveland to Columbus, OHIO

    Ask just about anybody who drives I-71 between Cleveland and Columbus, and they are likely to tell you how boring this road is. Well, yes: it is boring. For the length of this highway, everything looks pretty much the same. Yet, even along this tedious road, there's more than meets the eye.

  •     You'll pass the legendary community of Hinckley where each March the buzzards (also known as turkey vultures) return. There are at least two stories that purport to explain this inspiring phenomenon, both of which take us back to the early 1800s. One involves witchcraft and a curse put upon the community; the other is the theory of the "Great Hinckley Hunt." If you look up, you might even see some of those vultures flying abovethey hold their wings in a V shape and sort of teeter when they fly.

  • At about the Wayne County border, you'll be entering Amish country. About 50,000 Amish live in this region, making it the largest concentration of Amish in the world. You might see a black horse-drawn Amish buggy crossing a bridge over the interstate or bearded Amish men working alongside of the highway in their characteristic black hats, blue shirts, and broadcloths pants held up by suspenders.

  • As you drive further south, Interstate 71 takes you through Johnny Appleseed territory. Over 150 years ago, John Chapmana rather odd member of an old Massachusetts familyappeared in Ohio where he supported himself by selling apple seedlings. He was an exceedingly private man, preferred sleeping under the stars or staying with a pioneer family rather than maintaining a home, thought of himself mainly as a missionary, and even then was considered eccentric.  But he was one of the few people trusted by both settlers and the Native American communities.

  • Richland County was so named because of the richness of its land. But it wasn't just the land; the region was also thick with wildlife. During the 1820's, residents were required to turn in between 10 and 100 squirrel pelts along with their taxes. (Don't try this today.)

  • As you approach the exits for Mansfield, you might be surprised to learn that this community is the center for the wooden carousel industry in the country. (You might be surprised to learn that there even is a wooden carousel industry in America.) The only two American companies that create and renovate wooden carousel horses are located in Mansfield. How they got there is an interesting story.

  • After you pass Mansfield, you'll see an exit for Bellville. In 1853, Bellville was the site of a gold rush. Gold flakes were discovered, and people descended on the community with hopes of getting rich. But not much more gold turned up. The flakes that inspired the rush probably had been pushed south from Canada by a glacier. The total value of Bellville gold: about $30.

  • When you enter Morrow County, you'll see signs for Mt. Gilead, the Morrow County seat. The population of Morrow County is smaller than other adjoining counties and Mt. Gilead is a small town, with just over 3,000 residents. But it is known throughout the world as the site of the annual Ohio Gourd Show, where more uses for gourds are featured than you would have thought possible.

  •  By contrast, Delaware Countythe next county we pass through on I-71is Ohio's fastest growing, thanks to its proximity to the Columbus metropolitan area. Columbus is the only major city in Ohio to show consistent population increases over the past decades and so adjoining regions benefit from its growth. As other Ohio cities struggle to replace the heavy manufacturing their economies have been dependent upon, Columbus boasts a thoroughly modern economic mix of state government, state university, financial services, high tech, distribution, and retail headquarters.

    Interstate 71 between Cleveland and Columbus roughly follows a natural geographic boundary. To the east are the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, albeit shaved down by the glaciers that took up residence in this area for about two million years. To the west is flat land: the beginning of the plains that spread west to the Rocky Mountains. This geographic boundary is also a cultural boundary: it's where the East ends and the Midwest begins.

This program is available for purchase on CD. The narration runs for about 75 minutes in 5 segments and takes you from Cleveland to Columbus along I-71. This CD sells for $9.95.

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