Northern Ohio: Kirtland, Novelty, Chagrin Falls & Cuyahoga Valley NP

Sumoflam with his wife at the Kirtland Temple
Sumoflam with his wife at the Kirtland Temple

During a trip in May 2016 I visited my birthplace in the Little Italy neighborhood (See Little Italy Post) of Cleveland and then spent a day with family driving around Cleveland and catching a few sites (see post about Cleveland).  On my final day I picked up my wife in Kirtland, OH.  She had been there for a conference with her sister.  While there we visited a few places and I also had the opportunity to drive a few back roads while they were busy on the conference.  Actually, some of the locations I visited on one of the mornings prior to returning to Cleveland, but they are all compiled here.

Welcome to Kirtland, OH
Welcome to Kirtland, OH
Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, OH
Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, OH
Sumoflam at the Kirtland Temple
Sumoflam at the Kirtland Temple, Kirtland, OH

On the Sunday morning I was there we got the special opportunity to ring the Temple bells at 9 AM.  Photos inside the Kirtland Temple are not allowed, so we didn’t get any pictures, but it was fun to ring the bell.  I then left her and her sister there wile I did some driving around.

As many of my readers know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons).  I am a convert to the Church, after

Kirtland Temple was the site of many miraculous occurrences according to LDS Church history.
Kirtland Temple was the site of many miraculous occurrences according to LDS Church history.

joining when I was 18 (back in 1975 — if interested you can read that part of my life story in my Sumoflam Singlewide Blog Here.) The Kirtland Temple figures prominently in the history of the LDS Church.  (Read details HERE on the LDS History site).  My wife comes from church pioneer heritage, but most of her relatives came from England and went to Nauvoo, which was the next stopping point west for the Mormons.  But key pieces of the church’s early history took place here.  Initially, the Prophet Joseph Smith dedicated the temple on March 27, 1836. According to church history, beginning in January and continuing past the dedication, many Church members reported witnessing heavenly manifestations during this season. Soon thereafter, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery noted the appearance of the resurrected Jesus Christ to them to accept the temple. Later, the resurrected personages of Moses, Elias, and Elijah also appeared to Joseph and Oliver to restore priesthood keys for the salvation of all mankind.

LDS Church Kirtland Visitor's Center
LDS Church Kirtland Visitor’s Center
Newell K Whitney Store
Newell K Whitney Store

Just a few blocks from the Temple is the Historic Kirtland Visitor’s Center which has a number of historic buildings. One of these was the Newell K. Whitney Store where many of the revelations now included in the Doctrine and Covenants were received by the Prophet Joseph Smith. He also received the revelation now called the Word of Wisdom,  as well as the oath and covenant of the priesthood, and the command to build the temple. Joseph also completed much of his inspired translation of the Bible here.  Following are a few other photos I took while at the temple and the visitor’s center.

Historic Sign about the Mormons in Ohio
Historic Sign about the Mormons in Ohio
The Tannery
The Tannery
Historic Kirtland
Historic Kirtland
Kirtland Temple as seen from a distance
Kirtland Temple as seen from a distance
Novelty Post Office
Novelty Post Office

After my visit to Kirtland, I continued south on US Highway 6 towards Russell Township, which also used to be known as Novelty, OH.  There is still a Novelty Post Office.  Of course, one of my favorite road trip activities is visiting towns and places with unique names and this one was a true novelty!!

I am not certain how the Post Office got its name (closed on Sundays obviously), but it is fun.  Outside of the post office, attached to the building is a large wooden postage stamp for Novelty.  See below.

Novelty Post Office
Sign on Novelty Post Office
Welcome to Russell Township
Welcome to Russell Township
ASM International
ASM International

Not far from the Novelty Post Office, on Kinsman Road, is the headquarters for ASM International (formerly known as the American Society for Metals).

According to its website, “ASM International was founded in 1913 as the American Society for Metals. Today, ASM is the world’s largest association of metals-centric materials scientists and engineers with over 30,000 members worldwide. ASM is dedicated to informing, educating and connecting the materials community to solve problems and stimulate innovation around the world. ”  But the reason I went there was for something grand…indeed, the largest geodesic dome in the world and, unique to all others, a non-covered one.

Geodesic Dome National Register of Historic Places sign
Geodesic Dome National Register of Historic Places sign
World's Largest Geodesic Dome at ASM in Novelty, OH
World’s Largest Geodesic Dome at ASM in Novelty, OH
Sumoflam at Geodesic Dome
Sumoflam at Geodesic Dome

The dome was initially constructed in 1959 and was conceived by prominent Cleveland architect, John Terence Kelly; ASM’s managing director for 50 years, William Hunt Eisenman, and futurist and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller.

The geodesic dome is actually two domes, one inside the other that are 30 inches apart, rising to a height of 103 feet and is 274 feet in diameter.  The dome is built using approximately 65,000 parts, including 13 miles of extruded aluminum tubing and tension rods welded into hexagons. There are no internal supports and the entire 80-ton weight rests on five concrete-filled pylons driven up to 77 feet into the earth.

Another view of Geodesic Dome
Another view of Geodesic Dome

The entire complex sits on a 400-foot diameter piazza with a 100-foot diameter mineral garden in the center that contains 66 labeled specimens of mineral ores with a fountain in the center. The 50,000-square foot headquarter building is a three-story semi-circular shaped concrete structure that occupies two-fifths of the piazza perimeter. The building resides on the western perimeter and is independent of the dome structure and has three distinct sections.

Inside the Dome at ASM
Inside the Dome at ASM

The building has floor-to-ceiling aluminum frame windows inside poured concrete walls and floors. The exterior of the western-facing second level glass wall is protected by a 13-foot high, 390-foot long satin-finish stainless steel “sun shield,” which protects against the afternoon sun without obstructing the view by providing 4,000 one-foot by five-inch louvers. Stainless steel, bronze, copper, aluminum, titanium and tungsten elements are incorporated into the interior design.  This was an amazing sight!

Holden Arboretum
Holden Arboretum

Not too far away from Novelty/Russell Township is the Holden Arboretum which encompasses 3,600 acres in Lake and Geauga counties.

I had hoped to visit, but time constrained me.   The arboretum offers plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities and an abundance of flora from what I could see driving by.  It is also home to a 120 foot tall “Emergent Tower” which can provide views of Lake Erie on a clear day.  The Murch Canopy walk is 500 feet long and is 65 feet above ground. I would love to visit these on a future visit. (See details here).

The Kalberer Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum (photo from holdenarb.org)
The Kalberer Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum (photo from holdenarb.org)
The Murch Canopy Wlk at the Holden Arboretum. (photo from kirtlandchronicle.com)
The Murch Canopy Wlk at the Holden Arboretum. (photo from kirtlandchronicle.com)
Chagrin Falls, OH
Chagrin Falls, OH

After driving past the arboretum I had to head back to meet my wife and her sister and we then headed south on OH 306 to Russell Center and then onto OH 87 to get to Chagrin Falls. This is a quaint touristy little town with two nice waterfalls smack in the middle of the village.

Chagrin Falls Historic Sign
Chagrin Falls Historic Sign
Stroll down Main Street Chagrin Falls, OH
Stroll down Main Street Chagrin Falls, OH
Sumoflam at Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop
Sumoflam at Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop

Chagrin Falls has a few claims to fame — it is the birthplace of famous comedian Tim Conway and was the home of Bill Watterson, the creator of the comic characters Calvin and Hobbes from age 6 on. It is also home to the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop, known for its massive variety of flavored popcorn.  The building now housing the Popcorn Shop was constructed in 1875 adjoining the hydro-powered flour mill to showcase “The Pride of the Falls” grocery items. It was complete with a water-wheel driven gristmill powered by the Chagrin River.  The shop opened as a Popcorn Shop in 1949 and takes pride in offering what they claim to be “the finest & freshest, locally made ice cream, Euclid Beach custard, locally roasted coffee and old fashioned candies.”  The foundation of their tradition is carefully crafted locally made popcorn, always made in small batches with only the finest ingredients.

Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop
Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop
Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop T Shirt
Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop T Shirt
Popcorn!
Popcorn!
Ice Cream Offerings at Chagrin Falls
Ice Cream Offerings at Chagrin Falls
Too bad -- No Pets allowed...I had to stay outside!
Too bad — No Good Doggies allowed…I had to stay outside!
Chagrin Falls in the middle of town
Chagrin Falls in the middle of town

The highlight of the town is the two sets of falls in the middle of town.  Its a real drawing card indeed.  The setting is wonderful with restaurants and cafes overlooking the falls. There are also a number of old buildings in the town giving it an old-fashioned and cozy feel.

Old Bank in downtown Chagrin Falls
Old Bank in downtown Chagrin Falls
Old Wall Advertisement on the side of a building in Chagrin Falls
Old Wall Advertisement on the side of a building in Chagrin Falls
David and Julianne at Chagrin Falls in Ohio
David and Julianne at Chagrin Falls in Ohio
Sumoflam at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio and Erie Towpath Bike Trailhead
Sumoflam at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Bike Trailhead

After a nice lunch in Chagrin Falls, we departed for our final destination – Cuyahoga Valley National Park. For me it was an opportunity to add another National Park to my collection, but for Julianne and her sister Laura it was an opportunity to ride the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath trail, the first of their long trail rides in a week (the second was the next weekend as they  took a portion of the Montour Trail near Canonsburg, PA).  Since that trip, Julianne has been on five major bike trails.  I will be writing about these in future blog posts including the the above two and also includes the Dawkins Line Rail Trail in SE Kentucky, the Little Miami Scenic Trail from Xenia, OH and then again with her sister on the North Bend Rail Trail east of Parkersburg, WV.  Great opportunities to see some unique places!!

Sumoflam with Julianne and Laura at the Boston Store Visitor's Center in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Sumoflam with Julianne and Laura at the Boston Store Visitor’s Center in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Part of a boat in the Boston Store Visitor's Center
Part of a boat in the Boston Store Visitor’s Center

While the girls rode the trail, I enjoyed reading up on the history of the Boston Store and grabbed a few shots of the surrounding buildings.  Then I just chillaxed in a rocking chair (I am a grandpa mind you) while I waited for Julianne and Laura to get back from biking.

Boats of the Erie Canal
Boats of the Erie Canal
Boston Store and Peninsula, OH history
Boston Store and Peninsula, OH history
Trail Mix Boston - Unique eatery, gift shop and snack stop in Peninsula, OH
Trail Mix Boston – Unique eatery, gift shop and snack stop in Peninsula, OH
History Diorama Plaque of the Boston Store
History Diorama Plaque of the Boston Store
Chillaxin' on the porch of Boston Store in a nice rocking chair
Chillaxin’ on the porch of Boston Store in a nice rocking chair

This was a nice final stop to a great four day trip to Ohio.  I sat on the porch, enjoyed the view, watched the bikers and reminisced on all of the fun places, great food (Little Italy!!), history and quirky sites we visited.  Then it was back home to Kentucky with a stop in Wilmington, OH, which I will cover in a subsequent post.

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