Day 2: June 10, 2011
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I backtracked just a tiny bit to pickup the "BEGIN 36 WEST" sign then continued west on US-36. It alternated between two and four lane but it all looked pretty good.

Just a bit east of a crossroads called Millwood, there is a series of five signs on the north side of the road. They read the same in either direction. The west most sign was partially down so I've substituted the sign from the other end to show the full text presented to a west bound traveler. I don't know if the down sign was the work of vandals so can't say whether of not consequences are on the way.

The sun was shining when I reached Mount Vernon and walked around the park like traffic circle with the Civil War monument at its center. However, rain started falling as I drove from town. It quickly increased and remained fairly heavy as I drove through Centerburg, at the geographical center of Ohio, and on to the Rutherford B. Hayes Memorial BP Station in the town of Delaware.

The rain was really fading as I drove through Urbana and stopped at Crabill's Hamburgers. I sat at one of the restaurant's eight stools. David Crabill, son of the couple that started this place, sat on the right most stool while his daughter and her husband, Marsha and Andy Hiltibran, worked on the other side of the counter. He was waiting for a hotdog and I teased him about it. "A hotdog in a 'burger place?" I asked. "I like them crisp", he answered with a smile. They're crisp because they're cooked on the wet grill next to the hamburgers. David soon had his hotdog and I soon had my 'burgers. Three seemed about right although some folks eat a lot more. They are small but they sure are tasty and the small size is matched by the small 65¢ price. The 'burgers are good and I know I'll be back though I may just have to add a crispy 'dog to the order next time.

This is the town that granddad built. Actually it was my great-great-great-granddad, Levi Robbins. He called it Elizabethtown when he founded it in 1830 but the name got changed to Lena somewhere along the way. Making people aware that 4-H Club founder A. B. Graham was born here on US 36 is a very good reason for posting the picture but we all know I posted it so I could mention Levi and point out that, without my family, a place where that 4-H guy could be born might not even have existed.

I've mentioned that part of the attraction of driving US-36 is that it passes through the county of my birth and here it is. Bear's Mill is about a half dozen miles inside the Darke County line and about a quarter mile off of Thirty-Six. It was built by Gabriel Baer (Baer morphed into Bear) in 1849 and has never had a big vertical water wheel like most mills. Its stones are driven by cast iron hydraulic turbines hidden below the water. Pretty high tech stuff for the mid-nineteenth century. The mill still operates with its products offered for sale along with other local craft and food items. Plus, a portion of the mill now serves as a gallery for local artists.

A trail running beside the stream leads to a Vietnam Veterans Memorial created by Terry Clark; a veteran who is also largely responsible for getting the mill up and running again. The dome and pillars were salvaged from a renovation of the county courthouse. The plaque holds the names of twenty-one Darke Countians lost in Vietnam.


There are a number of 'S' bridges in Ohio. These are bridges with the approaches at an angle to the bridge deck which is perpendicular to whatever it crosses. Greenville is an 'S' town. Anthony Wayne's fort and the first streets of the city were both set parallel to Greenville Creek which flows from southwest to northeast at this point. Broadway runs perpendicular to the stream. At some point, expansion both north and south became aligned with the cardinal directions. The result is a town shaped exactly like an 'S' bridge. 'Y' intersections exist at both ends of the half mile long Broadway where it connects to streets running "square" with the compass. The first picture is of the 'Y' intersection at the south end. US-36 now completely bypasses the town but it once came in from the left of that picture then turned the corner where Any Oakley now stands. Krupp's service station once occupied that space as shown in the second photograph. That picture is from an ad in the 1925 Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway guide. David Paul (a.k.a. Keep the Show on the Road) generously provided a scan of that ad.

As I took the picture of Annie and the corner, the building that once housed my favorite hamburger joint, was behind me. It's now home to a jeweler but evidence of its past life, with a price from before even my time, can be seen under the canopy.


Downtown has lots of historic buildings. That's the courthouse whose castoff parts supplied the memorial at Bear's Mill. The theater in the same picture is where I saw -- a few decades apart -- first run showings of Lady and the Tramp and Cars. Kitchen Aid mixers are probably the best known product coming out of Greenville. The former Murphy's store is now the Kitchen Aid Experience which offers classes & demos and is a sort of factory outlet. Kitchen Aid is now owned by Whirlpool and the mixers are built in a big new factory north of town. Once they were built by Hobart Manufacturing at three locations in town. One, where my Dad worked, burned in the mid-50s. Another, where Dad worked after the fire, is now a very nice restaurant called The Bistro Off Broadway. The third, where I worked for one summer, is now idle and available.

Area history is presented quite nicely at Garst Museum. Annie Oakley and Lowell Thomas were both born in Darke County (Annie also died here) and both have significant displays in the museum. Two major treaties with American Indian tribes were signed here. One in 1795 and the other in 1814. The 1795 treaty is credited with opening the Northwest Territory to white settlement. It is commemorated by the Altar of Peace dedicated in 1940. An "eternal flame" originally burned at the top of the tall pole at its center. It hasn't burned for quite awhile. It is rumored that, partially due to this monument, the word "eternal" has entered the Shawnee language as a synonym for "life span of mayfly"


Greenville's Maid-Rite is on Broadway near the northern 'Y'. It was very briefly a franchise of those early Iowa Maid-Rites but has developed a taste and reputation all its own. There is rarely less than two cars at the drive up window and at meal time the cars can stretch for quite a ways in the unofficial "Maid-Rite lane" of Broadway. Stories that the building is held together by chewing gum are flatly false though it looks as if it could be true. The gum covered bricks are part of that reputation. The counter -- all four stools -- was filled but I did find an empty booth after I got my sandwich. In my day, there were just a few parking places behind the building where meals purchased at the window could be eaten. This was often on the way home late at night and I remember sitting their one night when a buddy stuffed a whole Maid-Rite in his mouth to prove he could. That's small town entertainment at its finest. There is now a large parking lot beside the building and an attractive "Maid-Rite Park" out back. In the summer, that lot is frequently packed with motorcycles. As I was taking some outside pictures and preparing to leave, I witnessed a miracle. It was kind of like the parting of the Red Sea without all that water. For a moment, the drive through was completely empty. It was just a matter of seconds before a car pulled in and another was in line after a few seconds more. But I saw it. And I got a picture.

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