Summer is approaching and it’s time to plan a time travel weekend to Chillicothe in southern Ohio! Whether you’re a history buff or simply enjoy sightseeing, Chillicothe and Ross County has plenty in store for you. As you make your way into town, the first thing you will notice is the scenic, Appalachian foothills. Nestled between these rolling hills is thousands of years worth of history and cultural heritage. Discover an ancient culture from nearly 2,000 years ago, explore pieces of the city when it was just starting, tour a 19th century mansion that played a role in Ohio’s statehood, and spend some time in the present with unique shops and flavorful local restaurants.
Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
The “Hopewell Culture” was a Native American group that inhabited the lands over 2,000 years ago. Much is still unknown about this Culture as they left behind no written history. Archaeologists continue efforts to discover clues about the Hopewell.
What is known about this prehistoric culture is they hand-built, magnificent earthworks featured at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park. These sites feature earthen walls and majestic mounds that were used by this culture for celebrations, funerals, and rites of passages.
The National Park preserves six sites within Ross County, with five being open to the public, where these amazing earthworks were built in shapes of squares, circles and through mounds. Research has determined that some of the Hopewellian sites correspond to solar and lunar events. Learning about these Native Americans continue to fascinate and intrigue archaeologists as they seek answers to many questions.
Hopewell Culture National Historical Park and its six sites are part of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks World Heritage nomination. Upon inscription to the World Heritage list, these sites will be recognized as globally significant and listed beside the Pyramids of Egypt, Machu Picchu, the Grand Canyon, and many other sites. Learn more at World Heritage Ohio.
Adena Mansion & Gardens
Step back into the 19th century at the hilltop estate known as Adena Mansion. Construction of the mansion was completed in the early 1800s for Thomas Worthington and his family. Worthington is best known as the sixth governor of Ohio, and has been dubbed the “Father of Ohio’s Statehood”.
Upon arrival you will travel uphill to the plateau where the estate sits. Views of Chillicothe and the Mount Logan range will greet you in the distance as you drive up to the Visitor Center. Once there, you will be welcomed to an interactive museum that showcases life in the 1800s and an intricate miniature model of the buildings and grounds of Adena.
Adena Mansion was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, a prominent architect of the time. Adena Mansion is one of three remaining Latrobe designs remaining in the United States.
Additionally, the views of the Mount Logan range was the inspiration for the Great Seal of the State of Ohio that is still used to this day.
Your tour will begin after a short walk from the Visitor Center to the mansion itself. A docent will greet you and lead you on a fascinating tour of the mansion where you will see many original furnishings of the Worthington family. As you tour the mansion, you’ll appreciate the luxuries that we have in our modern homes, even though this was considered a luxurious mansion of the time!
Your guided tour will conclude at the end of the mansion tour, but the experience doesn’t end there. Stroll through the gardens where volunteers continue to work the soil with vegetables and beautiful flowers. Explore the grounds that offer several outbuildings such as the barn and spring house.
Ross County Heritage Center
When you walk through the doors of the Ross County Heritage Center, you are instantly transported through centuries. Behind these walls there are exhibits that reflect just a glimpse in time such as vehicles that were used in early Chillicothe such as sleighs, horse drawn carts, covered wagon and many others.
Some exhibits take you back thousands of years, and some from the not so distant past. There is a wide range of exhibits that will be of interest to everyone who comes through the Heritage Center.
The tour will take you through exhibits featuring Native Americans and prehistoric cultures of the Scioto River Valley, history of the Northwest Territory, the importance of the railroad systems, miniatures featuring early Chillicothe. Additionally, you can explore the time of Camp Sherman, the third largest training camp in the United States during World War I that was located in Chillicothe.
As part of your tour, you can walk through the Knoles Log House that was originally built during the early 1820s on a farm and shows what life was like during that era. The house was disassembled and moved twice before being reconstructed on the grounds of the Heritage Center.
“Tecumseh!” Outdoor Drama
A visit to Chillicothe and Ross County isn’t complete without watching history come to life on Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre. Monday through Saturday from June 17th – September 5th, the life of Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, comes alive on the outdoor stage. As the storyline unfolds you will be taken back to the late 1700s to witness Tecumseh’s struggle to defend his homelands.
As you sit beneath the starry, southern Ohio sky, the outdoor stage provides the audience a unique viewing experience where you are surrounded with galloping horses, a military cannon in action, and a story that makes you feel as if you are one of the characters.
“Tecumseh!” Outdoor Drama first premiered in the summer of 1973, at the newly constructed Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre. Since its debut, it has drawn over 3-million visitors to Chillicothe.
Continuing this year is the ability to take a backstage tour prior to the production. This is an excellent option for children to get them acclimated and prepared for the show but is also fun for everyone.
New this year is a Tomahawk Throw. This experience gives attendees the opportunity to learn how to throw a tomahawk at a wooden target. You’ll be guided by experts throughout the whole process for safety and fun.
These are just some of the stops along your time travel weekend. While visiting you can find out about the first, First Lady of the White House, Lucy Webb Hayes by visiting the home she was born in. Enjoy a scenic drive to Bainbridge to explore Seip Mound, a Circus Museum, and the first dental school in the U.S. Don’t worry, you can enjoy the present time as well during your visit! Explore over 200 miles of trails with beautiful views from the Appalachian foothills, relax and savor the local flavor at the many restaurants, and explore the shops and architecture in historic downtown Chillicothe.
Find out more about the local attractions by visiting the What To Do page on the website, and don’t forget to check out the calendar of events to see if there’s a special activity taking place while you are in town. Start planning your time travel weekend today!