Mohican State Park
The Mohican State Park area was once the hunting grounds of the Delaware Native Americans, whose more famous warriors included Janacake, Bill Montour, Thomas Lyon and James Smith. Smith was the first white man to come to this area after he was captured by the Native Americans and later adopted into their tribe. Several Delaware villages were also located in the Mohican Vicinity.
John Chapman, immortalized as Johnny Appleseed, frequented the region during the 1800s, caring for his apple tree nurseries. His name and the date, carved into the wall of Lyons Falls, were an attraction for years. Unfortunately, the etchings have been worn away over time.
Prior to 1949, most of the area that comprises the present state park was part of Mohican State Forest. The forest lands were administered by the Ohio Division of Forestry. In 1949, when the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) was created, Mohican and several other state parks were developed from existing state forests. The new park was named Clear Fork State Park, but later changed to Mohican State Park in 1966.
Loudonville, the only town in Hanover Township, Ashland County, was laid out on August 16, 1814 by Stephen Butler and James Loudon Priest, Jr. At the time, there was only one dwelling in this newly constructed town and it was a one-room log cabin owned by Stephen Butler. James Loudon Priest Jr., by moving from Sandusky County, showed good judgement when he located on 1,000 acres where Loudonville now stands. Mr. Priest laid out the town and named it after his grandmother Loudon. The first sale of lots began on September 14, 1814.
Loudonville is the birthplace of inventor Charles Kettering, Antarctic explorer and researcher Danny Foster and Robert Bacher nuclear physicist and one of the leaders of the Manhattan Project.
Loudonville was the home of the Flxible Company, a manufacturer of motorcycle sidecars, commercial cars (hearses and ambulances), intercity and city-transit coaches. The Flxible Company, not unlike many other companies had a modest, but unique beginning… In 1912, Hugo H. Young (founder and former president of the Flxible Co.), while operating a motorcycle sales agency in Mansfield Ohio, had an idea for a new type of motorcycle sidecar; one which would permit the third wheel to tilt and stay on the ground when the motorcycle leaned while going around curves either to the left or right. The sidecar was attached to the motorcycle with a “flexible” connection. This was a new and basic idea. It also allowed the sidecar wheel to rise over obstructions, or to drop below the road level without affecting the motorcycle’s balance. The axle pivot of the sidecar wheel was slightly tilted which caused the sidecar wheel to always follow the direction of the motorcycle, whether rounding turns or on a straight course.
Young built a prototype sidecar for his own use. A traveling salesman friend saw the newly designed sidecar and realizing its great possibilities, urged him to patent and manufacture the sidecar. In 1913, Young founded the Flxible Side Car Company in Loudonville, Ohio to manufacture his patented vehicle. This original company was a partnership owned by Hugo Young and Carl F. Dudte. In 1914 they incorporated the Flexible Sidecar Co. for $25,000.
Young’s sidecar went over in a big way. It was such an improvement over the other sidecars that it soon became the favorite of most motorcyclists. This was especially true for the riders in the dangerous sport of motorcycle sidecar racing. Soon all important sidecar racing records were held by race drivers whose cycles were equipped with Flexible Sidecars. In 1916, the company built its own factory. In July of 1919, the directors decided to change the name from the Flexible Sidecar Co. to The Flxible Co., and increased capitalization to $500,000. It was then the name Flxible without the first E was copyrighted and that spelling has been exclusive to Flxible ever since. By 1919 the company had gained the distinction of being the world’s largest exclusive manufacturer of motorcycle sidecars.
During WW1, Flxible produced its unique sidecars for the Allied Armies. They were attached to an Excelsior motorcycle, carried a mounted machine gun and were used very effectively overseas.
In the early 1920s the sidecar market suddenly disappeared when Henry Ford established the price for a Ford Roadster at $360.00 less than the cost of a motorcycle and sidecar. The Flxible Co. was forced to find seek new fields, thus the entry into the bus, funeral car and ambulance markets.
The first Flxible bus, a Studebaker 12 passenger sedan, was delivered to E.L. Harter in 1924, who operated a line from Ashland to Mt. Vernon, Ohio. The first Flxible performed so well, that Harter decided to buy a second one in April, 1925. This second coach established an unviable record of long life and dependability. For three years it was used in regular service and accumulated a total of over 275,000 miles. It was traded in on another coach in 1928 and that same year set the new record for the trip from New York to Los Angeles in four days, nine hours and forty one minutes. (1984 publication by the Flxible Corporation)
The town of Loudonville includes several sites on the National Register of Historic Places. The Ohio Theatre which was erected in 1909 under the name of “City Hall and Opera House”. In 2009, the Ohio Theater celebrated its 100th anniversary. The home of Phillip J. Black, located at 303 N. Water Street, is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1856, it is now home to the Blackfork Marken Inn Bed & Breakfast.
Mohican Canoe Capital
The first area canoe livery, the Mohican Canoe Livery, was opened on Hanover Township Road 629, just east of the busy state Routes 3 and 97 intersection, on a bend in the Clear Fork. The livery was just a few hundred yards upstream from the confluence with the Black Fork and the beginning of the Mohican River.
Dick Frye of Mansfield, described as an avid snow skier and canoeist, reportedly returned from a trip to Michigan with a plan. Modeled after a business he saw up north, he purchased 16 canoes and constructed an A-Frame office on the banks of the Clear Fork. Called Mohican Canoe Livery, it was the first business of its kind in Ohio. His livery offered a safe adventure that could be both fast and exciting for the serious canoeist, or slow and relaxing for the novice. He offered trips from two hours to a six-day quest all the way to Marietta. Frye also is credited with helping establish the Mohican area as one of Ohio’s premier tourist destinations. His Mohican Canoe Livery has grown and is now known as Mohican Adventures. His was the first livery in an area that has supported as many as nine competing canoe liveries in some seasons.
The Mohican-Loudonville area serves as the Canoe Capital of Ohio due to the more than 50 years of canoe livery operation, number of canoes registered in the area, and concentration of paddling activities. For those who enjoy paddling and other outdoor recreation pursuits, this area affords more opportunity than any other in Ohio. In fact, the stretch of the Mohican from Loudonville to Greer, Ohio, near the Wally Road Scenic Byway, serves as Ohio’s largest outdoor recreational complex. Traveling to the Mohican area allows a visitor to enjoy several scenic byways, including the Gateway to Amish Country, Wally Road, and Amish Country Scenic byways. As you paddle down the river, you will cross from Holmes to Knox County. This point is historically significant, since the Greenville Treaty line crosses this point. The Greenville Treaty line was established in August of 1795 between the United States and Native American tribes, following the end of the Northwest Indian War. Those lands south of the treaty line, including Knox County, were open to settlers, while those to the north remained Native American territory.
Today, five liveries operate on the Mohican, which was designated as a State Scenic River in 2006.
Frye died in 1992 on an area ski slope, and a memorial plaque in his honor is prominently displayed south of Loudonville near the canoe livery he helped establish.
Wally Road Scenic Byway
The scenic beauty of the forested treetops, deep ravines and wetlands of the Mohican and Walhonding Valleys was restricted to a few river travelers and remote villages before the Toledo, Walhonding Valley and Ohio Railroad (the “Wally”) opened a 45-mile connecting route from Coshocton to Loudonville in 1892. This route was considered one of the most scenic train rides in Ohio. The railroad ceased operations in 1942, but part of the route lives on as the Wally Road Scenic Byway.
Now visitors can view the same scenery that railway passengers experienced a century ago, and they can do it from a canoe or their own vehicle! In Ohio’s largest Outdoor Recreational Complex, Wally Road Scenic Byway is 10.4 miles of county road that runs parallel to the Mohican State Scenic River. The Byway has a number of recreational facilities from camping, cabins, canoeing, horseback riding, and arts programs. There are historical-themed events along this route throughout the year including the popular Mohican Bluegrass Festival and Great Mohican Pow Wows. The natural beauty seen is well worth the drive down the Wally Road Scenic Byway during every season of the year.