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Published: Wednesday, 5/2/2007

Old Territorial Road sale organizers hope rain will stay away

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Dates are June 19-24

for the event that stretches 120 miles

LYONS - Torrential rain soaked some areas along the historical Old Territorial Road 120-mile yard/barn/garage sale in June, but the wet weather hasn't dampened interest in the event this year.

Dave Blesing, the Fulton County resident who came up with the idea for the event, said he's been flooded with requests for information about the sale that stretches from Sylvania to Elkhart, Ind. Sale dates this year: June 19 to June 24.

"I'm guessing it will be bigger than last year," said Mr. Blesing, who lives near Lyons.

Residents, churches, entire communities, organizations, and others can join simply by setting up a place where items can be sold.

Many participants live along the Old Territorial Road. They sell merchandise, ranging from antiques to used clothing, at yard sales or garage sales or barn sales. Highway signs direct motorists to other spots, such as along nearby county roads where residents want in on the action.

Each group or resident decides how many days to participate. Mr. Blesing encourages those involved to sell items during the entire six-day event.

This is the event's third year. At first, the sale spanned 60 miles but the route length doubled last year. Now it extends to Elkhart and picks up several lake communities.

An Ohio Historical Marker in Berkey in western Lucas County describes the Old Territorial Road as the "earliest improved public road west from Lake Erie to the Indiana border."

Built in 1834-35, the road paralleled the Harris Line, the northern boundary of a narrow strip of land that both Ohio and and Michigan contested from 1803 to 1836, when Ohio annexed it after the Toledo War.

The road became the Indiana Plank Road in 1848 and later was known as Sylvania-Metamora Road, according to the marker.

Here's Mr. Blesing's update: From the east, Territorial Road starts in Sylvania as Erie Street. It becomes Sylvania-Metamora Road as it crosses Centennial

Road. At Metamora, it becomes State Rt. 120. Moving slightly north into Michigan, the road is known as Morenci Highway. After crossing U.S. 127, the road reverts to Territorial Road until the Indiana line, where it becomes Indiana Rt. 120.

Metamora's community garage sales on June 23 will coincide with the 120-mile sale. Village residents can purchase $10 permits to take part in the local event, sponsored by the firefighters' auxiliary. The auxiliary will run advertisements about the village garage sales.

Again this year, Mr. Blesing is promoting the "best barbecue beef sandwiches east of the Mississippi" for hungry shoppers. The Lyons Area Historical Society will serve the sandwiches in front of the historical society's depot in Lyons.

Mr. Blesing jokingly suggested that he cut into his own business by expanding the route last year. Folks who started in Sylvania didn't get to his barn sale, about 25 miles away, until late in the afternoon. Those who began in Elkhart took up to three days to get to his sale.

Anyone who wants to start midroute is welcome to do so, he said with a smile. And the weather forecast this year? Mr. Blesing is counting on no rain. A couple of showers to settle the dust would be OK, but not a repeat of 2006. "Four out of five days last year were rainy," he recalled.

Mr. Blesing began organizing the sale three years ago after he shopped along a sale route that runs through a string of Southern states. "That was disappointing. Most of the stuff was recycled junk, and the good stuff was overpriced." Because he's always liked the Territorial Road's history, a multimile highway sale seemed like a good fit. "I jumped on the idea, tried it, and succeeded."



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