Day 14: May 3, 2012
Twenty-Two Skidone
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Look at what appeared just a few steps from my door this morning. Coffee and tea are provided every morning at 6:15. Its nearness was pure luck. Later, after my included breakfast, I took another short walk to see what the locals were driving (This was in the hotel lot last night.) and verify that the Marathon was progressing.

Stonewall cemetery is about a half mile off of US-22. The cemetery was created in 1817. The wall is a more recent (1838) addition. There is truth to the story that the cemetery was deeded to the President of the United States (starting with James Monroe). There may or may not be truth to the story that walking around the top of the wall thirteen times will get you pulled inside by the residents. There is a good 2003 newspaper article here and a site with some pictures here. I found no date for the photos but they leave no doubt that the Lebanon Cedar in the cemetery's center is doing quite well.

Another cemetery or at least a memorial lies just a few miles further south. This one is right on the edge of US-22 where the single marker on the hill is easy to spot but difficult to read as you drive by. A full stop and a long lens helps.

From the moment the mere thought of driving US-22 end to end entered my head, there was one stop that was firmly on the agenda: The Last Honky Tonk in Circleville. It's a place where we stopped on the mid-1970s drive I've mentioned. I believe it really is the physically last (farthest west) place, the one labeled Mary's, but things have changed a lot so I'm not quite certain. Mary's Saloon is now called Wits End but it has only been a year and changing the sign is still on the to-do list. Beers were a dollar. "It's Happy Hour", the bartendress explained. It was 12:30 on a Thursday. Before I finished my Bud, a fellow a few stools down bought me a beer. I'm guessing he bought a round but am not sure. He got a mixed drink and both he and the drink disappeared almost before I could thank him. At this point my cost per beer was fifty cents. However, to cover all bases on the Last Honky Tonk thing, I had one more beer at the Main Street Pub and the $2 price rocketed my CPB back to a dollar. There was no air conditioning on at Wits End. The doors were open and a couple of fans were running. Some eight or ten people sat at the bar or played pool and complained about the record heat. The AC was going full tilt over at the Main Street Pub but it was empty. When I entered, even the bartendress was out back smoking a cigarette. There's a story there that I didn't get.

The last picture is of the tall reminder that Circleville is best known for its Pumpkin Show. I know it's a biggy but confess to never actually attending. Maybe this year. But, pumpkins and honky tonks aside, there is a dark side to Circleville. The name comes from its location in the center of a pair of circular Hopewell mounds built at least thirteen centuries before the settlement's founding. Today only the name remains. All traces of the mounds have been obliterated.

Quite a few of these mile markers stand beside US-22 between Circleville and Washington Court House. I've never seen or heard anything to prove it but my best guess is that they marked the Circleville and Washington Turnpike in the early 1800s. I suppose it's possible that the "Cincinnati" at the top of the markers indicates they were part of something bigger but I'm thinking it is just there for information. They were not, despite the information given here, associated with Zane's Trace. For one thing, Zane's Trace was a trace and almost certainly had nothing as elaborate as stone markers beside it. But, more significantly, Zane's Trace turned south some fifteen miles east of Circleville. The marker shown in the Library of Congress American Memory was still in place the last time I looked although I did not seek it out today.

This is the world famous and fun to say Washington Court House court house. It's looking a little ragged inside but the murals by Archibald Willard, that Spirit of '76 guy, are pretty cool. Painted in 1882, they are Spirit of the Telegraph, Spirit of Electricity, and Sprit of the U.S. Mail.

This diner in Sabina is kind of special to me because it was the subject of my first published bit of writing, a "Diner Days" piece for American Road Magazine. But it was even more special for Kim Starr who shopped for it, had the 1946 Silk City shipped here from Michigan, and watched over its renovation. It was a dream come true for Kim but it didn't last long. I was probably about five years after the opening that a family illness forced her to sell the diner. Someone else tried operating it for a short while but it has been idle for several years now. I always wonder about Kim when I pass her diner and I sure hope she's doing well.

In Wilmington, I met John for a beverage and snack at the General Denver. The hotel was built on US-22 when the route was just two years old and the eastbound route still passes by the front door. Like many towns, Wilmington has split some routes onto two one-way streets and west bound Twenty-Two is a block to the north. The General Denver is a very cool old hotel that I wrote a little about, with a few pictures, in the last couple paragraphs of my Thanksgiving blog entry. I really should stay here sometime.

It was John who was working in New York in 1975 and it was his travel allowance we spent on gas and other liquids to get us home. I need to get him to Circleville sometime to see if we can come up with a positive ID on the Last Honky Tonk. Then maybe we can put up a plaque or something.

ADDENDUM: May 14, 2012 - John and I made it back to Circleville last week and he concurs with my guess that it was Wits End (a.k.a., Mary's Saloon) that we dubbed "The Last Honky Tonk in Circleville" back in 1975. The weather was cooler and the presence or absence of air conditioning was not a factor but, just as on my May 3 visit, the Main Street Pub was empty while Wits End had a decent little crowd. There is a major difference in the personalities of the two bartenders and John thought that might be behind the difference in business. Makes sense to me.

I drive the road in the first picture a lot and I like it a lot. It's a few miles out of Wilmington. Even though I'm always headed home when I see it, the scene makes me think for a brief moment that I'm heading off to somewhere interesting. The next two pictures are of the Train Stop Inn in Foster. It is on the Old 3C Highway which was also US-22 until 1937 when the big bridge leveled and straightened things considerably. I enjoy watching the Little Miami River flow by from one of the old benches but it looks like trees are rapidly blocking the view. The last picture is of the climb up from Foster to the current US-22. It's another view I like.

US-22 passes in front of Arnold's, Cincinnati's oldest bar, then ends two turns and a half dozen blocks later. It's a good place to celebrate driving any highway end to end.

US-22 ends at the intersection of 9th and Elm just a little bit beyond this sign. Now if I could just find a good place to celebrate driving a couple of US highways end to end. Maybe a place with Christian Moerlein on tap.

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