Ohio’s Happy Campers!

The "Out-Mount Campers Club" in 1886, courtesy of the Washington County Public Library via Ohio Memory.
The “Out-Mount Campers Club” in 1886, courtesy of the Washington County Public Library via Ohio Memory.

Camping has long been a favorite summer pastime of many Ohioans, from the shores of Lake Erie and its islands, to the rolling Hocking Hills of southeastern Ohio–and Ohio Memory has a variety of historical images documenting this part of our state’s past!

Seen in the top photograph is a group of campers from 1886, identified as the “Out-Mount Campers Club.” This large group was spending two weeks at Camp Riverside, above Coal Run in Washington County, Ohio, and along the banks of the Muskingum River. Numerous club members are identified on the backs of the photographs, and judging by the photographs, this group was well-equipped for a couple of weeks in the woods!

Images from the Bert Highlands Photograph Collection, courtesy of the Mechanicsburg Public Library via Ohio Memory.
Scrapbook page from the Bert Highlands Photograph Collection, courtesy of the Mechanicsburg Public Library via Ohio Memory.

A selection of interesting images is available on Ohio Memory from the Bert Highlands Photograph Collection of the Mechanicsburg Public Library. Highlands was the superintendent of Mechanicsburg Schools from 1912 until 1937, and also served as the assistant scoutmaster for the local Boy Scouts. He loved nature, and did an excellent job capturing scenes of Ohio’s campsites and landscapes. The scrapbook page at right shows images of the Dunn Raven Boy Scout Camp on the Scioto River, in August of 1916. Highlands also documents a scout trip to the John Bryan Farm, near Yellow Springs, in 1915. Local businessman John Bryan purchased this stretch of land along the scenic Little Miami River in 1896, and upon his death in 1918, bequeathed the remarkable property to the state of Ohio as one of the state’s first forest parks. Camping is still available on the grounds of this state park today!

 

Campsites from the Ohio Guide Photograph Collection.
Campsites from the Ohio Guide Photograph Collection, ca. 1940.

Other exciting camping options from Ohio’s past have included the barrel-shaped “cabents” (a portmanteau of “cabins” and “tents”) seen above, likely located on one of the Lake Erie Islands. These 6 buildings, each shaped like a wine barrel, have a covered porch, windows and a soft fabric roof. These days, South Bass Island State Park offers 4 “cabents,” and it is possible the buildings in this photograph are predecessors of the current structures.

If you’re considering escaping to the wilderness before the summer ends, we hope you’ll check out more historical images showing “Camp Glee” at Meyer’s Lake, Lake Alma State Park and more as you plan your trip. Happy camping!


Thanks to Lily Birkhimer, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!

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