All Aboard to Round Hill
Welcome to Phillips Park, a Mount Vernon City Park located on a connector trail to the Kokosing Gap Trail. Phillips Park is a busy city park throughout the summer months as Mount Vernon Little League Baseball games are played. And with baseball comes tradition, which might include a trip to get ice cream for the winning team. There are a few ice cream shops in town but one to call your attention to is Round Hill Dairy.
Henry B Curtis perhaps was the individual who had the greatest role in developing and shaping Mount Vernon and Knox County. Henry had a desire to succeed in all his business endeavors, and he did just that. He was a lawyer, banker, churchman, city developer, and civic leader. He had ties to the railroad as was instrumental in the completion of the Sandusky, Mansfield, and Newark Railroad. On January 6, 1851, he stood in the snow to see the first train travel through Mount Vernon. He later served as Director of the Lake Erie Division of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He also built the Curtis House Hotel in 1876 now known as the Grand Hotel today.
Among his friends was Bishop Philander Chase’ who came to the area seeking a suitable location for a proposed institution later named Kenyon College. Together they rode on horseback all over the hills east of town, and with Henry’s influence, the Bishop was able to purchase the needed 8,000 acres.
Henry Curtis built and resided in Round Hill mansion which is located at the corner of Larmatine and McKenzie Street in Mount Vernon. The mansion itself is said to have a secret underground passageway that connects it to the family vault of Henry B. Curtis, the builder of the mansion. He was an Abolitionist who used the vault to conceal slaves along the Underground Railroad. The family’s crypt is located in nearby Mound View Cemetery.
Round Hill was passed down through the years to descendants of the Curtis family. In 1946 Henry L Curtis and his wife Alice began to start a business that would have an impact on Mount Vernon. Henry’s father, Walter Curtis, sold milk from their family farm, Round Hill. All the milk produced was delivered to homes around the town by horse and buggy.
In 1948 Henry and Alice had a dream of expanding the farm as they began to pasteurize and homogenize milk in their small dairy processing building at Round Hill. By 1950 the start of Round Hill providing deliveries of bottled milk was well underway. As the business grew the Dairy needed more room for a full-service store and in 1954, Round Hill Dairy opened its doors to provide a variety of dairy products. Ten years later the dairy plant transitioned to milk cartons and glass bottles ceased.
Henry and Alice’s love for the dairy continued until 1980 when they decided to retire from the dairy business. Although they retired, they continued to deliver milk to Kenyon College on Sunday mornings for the entire campus to enjoy. The bond to the college remained as you will discover how Henry Curtis became instrumental in developing the College as you travel to Gambier.
By the time the Civil War engulfed the nation, milk revenue was an important part of the railroad’s income in many areas. In the 1880’s refrigerated rail cars were introduced and in 1881 the Ontario and Western Railroad conducted a successful trial of transporting a carload of milk for 195 miles. With this discovery, the transport of milk flourished on the rail lines.
Today, Round Hill Dairy is owned and operated by Tyler McCann and Johnny Curtis ( a descendant of Henry B Curtis) and their mission is to ensure Mount Vernon has a great place to enjoy a premium ice cream all while following in the footsteps of Henry and Alice Curtis. Their mission has soon become a reality and Round Hill Dairy is known as the best ice cream shop in Knox County.
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.