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All Aboard to Mount Liberty
Welcome to Mount Liberty another trail town on the Heart of Ohio multi-use trail where three Geocaches are located. As you visit our GeoTrail we want you to enjoy learning the history of Ohio Railroads and their significance to the growth of these towns you will visit. In the late ’90s, Knox County began to explore the idea of taking the abandoned railbeds and converting them to a multi-use recreational trail.
As you discover areas on the Heart of Ohio Trail, imagine the importance and many benefits of the railroad through our trail towns. Before automobiles and good roads, recreational day trips of any distance were chosen if the desired destination was reasonably close to a railroad. The alternative means of travel simply were too slow and would consume much of an outing therefore leaving little time to socialize or picnic.
Can you picture vast woodlands of Black Walnut and Sugar Maples or a possible encounter with Native Americans searching for the geocache? Can you identify a nearby creek or a tree?
History of Mount Liberty
Mount Liberty was laid out in 1835. The community was named for the lofty elevation of the town site, and its location within Liberty Township. Near the Heart of Ohio Trail head at Mount Liberty, you will notice the post office which has been in operation since 1838. At the intersection of Simmons Church Road and the Multi-use Trail stood the Train Station of the Cleveland Akron and Columbus Railroad. Take a look at the Kiosk and view information supplied by the Heart of Ohio Trail board. View the historical photo below and locate the Samuel Thatcher home which is stands in your current view.
Mount Liberty Tavern was the second tavern to be constructed in the area. It was built around 1832 and opened its doors for customers in 1833. The tavern later became a residence and has remained since. You can view the home on your way to Mount Vernon. This property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As you leave the trail head and proceed to Route 3 and 36, look to the left to view.
Did you notice the tall concrete pillar engraved with a large W on the trail? This marker, known as a “Whistle Stop” was used for incoming trains to sound their whistle to warn buggies and/or automobiles approaching the crossing that a train was about to come through. Whether it is an original or a repurposed sign, this was an important signal to instill safety. The marker stands near the former station site, not far from what would have been the railroad crossing.
Dry Creek which you will notice along the trail was a natural source to power mills. It empties into the Kokosing River at Mount Vernon and at one point it rises 230 feet along the railway. Often, Steam locomotives struggled to make it up the grade. In 1827 a sawmill was built on the north fork of the Creek and in 1839 a carding mill was built at the south fork of Dry Creek. In 1847 a Grist Mill was present East of Mount Liberty. Many were built by Samuel Thatcher who was a millwright and builder. He and his son made money selling livestock and horses to the Army during the Civil War but lost it at the time of his death. His home is still standing at the corner of Simmons Church Road and Columbus Road. You can see the back view from the trail.
The rail line came through in 1873 as part of the Cleveland, Mount Vernon and Delaware Railroad Company. The company however, ran out of money and by a near decade, and it was reorganized as the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railway Company in 1885. The Cleveland, Akron and Columbus Railway depot once stood in Mount Liberty to receive passengers and freight. It was located near the intersection of what is Simmons Church Road, near the trail head of the Heart of Ohio Trail. On the south side of the trail where a picnic table is located is where it stood.
Governor William McKinley made a whistle stop speech from the Tavern/Hotel location in Mount Liberty. McKinley was the 39th Governor of Ohio in 1892-1896 and later became the 25th President in 1897 until 1901 when he was assassinated.
Today we celebrate the rail line as part of a 365-mile multi-use trail called the Ohio to Erie which spans from Cincinnati to Cleveland. Knox County is proud to be a part of this trail system which includes our Heart of Ohio Trail, Kokosing Gap Trail, and Mohican Valley Trail.