National Parks in Ohio: 2,000 Years of History, Presidential Homes and the Birth of Aviation

Ohio is right up there with such original colonies as Virginia and New York when it comes to being a major player in the making of a President. In fact, just one more President from Ohio and they will move out of a first-place tie with New York and put one more notch between them and the original colonial state that produced half of the first ten Chief Executives: Virginia. One result of all that Presidential timber has been an increase in the number of units associated with the National Park system that Ohio offers. Not that you necessarily have to possess a big interest in the West Wing to find something of interest in Ohio’s contribution to those elements in the National Park system that have little to nothing to do with awe-inspiring natural beauty of America.

William Howard Taft National Historic Site

One could make a fairly substantial argument that William Howard Taft has been the unluckiest President of them all. Oh sure, many other Presidents are remembered for doing far worse things while in office (or for doing nothing at all) than Taft. But let’s face facts: when you hear the name William Howard Taft, if you think anything at all, you probably think of a fat man getting stuck in a small tub. A visit to the William Howard Taft National Historic Site will give you the opportunity to find out if that story of Taft and the tub is merely urban legend as well as learn some far more impressive biographical facts about the man.

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Ohio also recognizes James A. Garfield as one of its Favorite Sons. While Garfield’s term as President came to a tragically short end as the result of becoming the second holder of that office to be assassinated, at least his legacy isn’t quite as embarrassing as Taft’s in the minds of most people. Ohio’s contributions to the National Park system includes this seven acre unit highlighted by the home from which Garfield ran his front porch campaign. While there, you can learn about the full life James Garfield lived as carpenter, framer, minister, college professor, attorney and Civil War hero before his elevation to the nation’s highest office.

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park

Ohio’s contribution to American history extends beyond the White House. The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park is a unit of the National Park system that pays tribute to the state’s vital bestowment to the evolution of transportation. Wilbur and Orville Wright sit at the center of this National Park, but you will also leave with a glimpse into the poetry of their friend Paul Laurence Dunbar. The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park takes you through the history of early American aviation via the print shop and bike shop of the Wright Brothers that eventually led to the replica of their 1902 glider that changed the course of history forever.

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park

The history of the land we now call Ohio traces back to even before it started producing Presidents and inventors. In fact, this Ohio unit of the National Park system can send you 2,000 years back in time. Traversing the more than 1,000 acres of Hopewell Culture National Historical Park are earthen structures of highly sophisticated geometrical shapes. In addition to the glimpse into a lost history of early America, this National Park also offers more traditional enjoyments of the concept like hiking, biking, picnic areas and canoe rides.

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