BOWLING GREEN - Considering that Wood County was part of the Great Black Swamp, it's not that surprising that today's bustling U.S. 20 was once called Mud Pike and known among locals as "the worst stretch of road in the country."
And did you know that the original Wood County jail was located in Perrysburg? That the nation's second Medal of Honor winner was from Pemberville?
Those and other bits of Wood County trivia are part of a new, 74-minute compact disc produced by the Wood County Historical Center that is intended to take listeners on a historic driving tour.
"We want to encourage people to stop and visit these places, but if you do that, you probably can't get through the entire CD in one afternoon," said Kelli Kling, marketing, public relations, and special events coordinator for the historical center. "The idea is to expose people to different entities in our county that they might take a little time to explore."
The CD, which went on sale last week for $10, features 32 tracks narrated by local residents and accompanied by folk music performed by local musicians the Diamonds in the Rough, the Root Cellar String Band, and the fife and drum duo of Ian and Andrew Bova.
The tour covers much of the county, including stops in Pemberville, Fostoria, North Baltimore, Grand Rapids, Perrysburg, Rossford, Stony Ridge, Bowling Green, and a number of rural locales in between.
It's a user-friendly compact disc that includes a map as well as phone numbers and Web sites where listeners can get more information about historic sites, including times when the attraction is open.
Of course, not all of the sites have hours, or even much left to see. Some tracks talk about events that occurred in a particular spot such as the 1932 murder of police Marshal Jay Davis in North Baltimore, which is marked today by a plaque in his honor at the entrance of an alley that runs behind the library.
Others talk of places long gone - from the pioneer town of Pottertown off Wapakoneta Road south of Grand Rapids to an Indian missionary school on State Rt. 65 east of State Rt. 582. A historical marker designates the former location of the school for Indian children that closed in 1834, while the only remnant of Pottertown is a cemetery set back off a dirt road that is not open to the public.
Many of the locales are well-known attractions, like Fort Meigs in Perrysburg or Nazareth Hall along Route 65, but as familiar as the sites might be, not everyone knows when or why they were built. The disc gives a brief history of each with what Ms. Kling calls some "neat little tidbits."
When she took the tour, for example, she enjoyed the story about the tiny holes in the velvet stage curtain that hangs inside the Pemberville Opera House. Performers often smoked backstage and burned the holes right through the curtain while peeking anxiously out to the audience.
Museum staff members have been working on the driving tour CD for nearly two years and hope to produce more if this one proves popular.
Ms. Kling said among the ideas they have is creating driving tours focused on cemeteries in the county or unusual architecture. The idea, in any case, is to get people to see and understand their local history.
"We talk so much about increasing tourism in our own backyard," Ms. Kling said. "That's why we wanted to do this."
The CDs are on sale at the historical center on County Home Road, the gift shops at Fort Meigs and Providence Metropark, Beeker's General Store in Pemberville, and the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau and Main Street BG offices in downtown Bowling Green. Proceeds will be used to support historical preservation and tourism in Wood County.
Contact Jennifer Feehan