Heart of Ohio Tour

The Heart of Ohio Tour has been a scenic tour of Knox County since the early 1980’s.  Various entities of the Knox County agricultural sector such as the Knox Soil and Water Conservation District and OSU Extension Knox County plan this yearly event. The Knox County Park District upon recent years assists in the planning as well. Each year the tour explores different regions of Knox County and originally showcased the various forms of agriculture and the area’s natural farming heritage.  With the threat of bio-security measures on local farms and the decrease in farming operations in the county, the tour has shifted to also include local businesses and other areas such as local parks, churches or areas of interest such as this year’s stop at Camp Mohaven.

The tour is always held the first weekend of October as October 5 and 6 are the 2019 scheduled dates. The tour begins at 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. and will feature areas northeast of Mount Vernon and a total of (6) stops are planned. The areas of interest in this tour are for all ages as many will enjoy what each stop has to offer.

The tour will include Quarry Chapel, The Ramser Arboretum, Kokosing Nature Preserve, The Bridge of Dreams, Camp Mohaven, and Kauffman Beef Farm. Below is a quick summary of each of the stops and to print out a tour map click  here.  The Mount Vernon News will also feature an insert to the newspaper a week prior to the tour.

  • Kokosing Nature Preserve is a conservation burial ground located at 10608 Quarry Chapel Road in Gambier.  Established in 2015 by the Philander Chase Conservancy, Kenyon College’s land trust, the preserve offers the option for natural burial, also known as green burial, within 23 acres of native prairie and woodlands. It is the first and only green burial cemetery in Central Ohio. Green burial emphasizes simplicity and a return to nature. Burials take place using biodegradable coffins or shrouds and without the use of embalming fluid or concrete burial vaults. Over time, the gravesites, which can be marked with flat, natural engraved stones, return to an undisturbed state, covered in prairie grasses and wildflowers, surrounded by trees and rolling farmland. There are walking paths throughout Kokosing Nature Preserve, and visitors are encouraged to tour the grounds and enjoy the beauty of the space. Tour attendees should begin their visit at the Reception Center at Kokosing Nature Preserve, a space which is available to the public for rental for their private events/parties. Staff and volunteers will be available to answer any questions. There are restrooms located in the Reception Center. You can learn more about Kokosing Nature Preserve at www.kokosingnaturepreserve.org


  • Quarry Chapel is included on the National Register of Historic Places and has been lovingly restored and stands today in a condition that would marvel its 1860s builders. The Chapel was built in 1862-63 with stone from the local Fish Quarry. Stones were harvested, cut and hauled by hand and horse. The daunting task was a labor of love by stonemasons who were working at nearby Kenyon College. The Chapel was to be a place of worship and social gathering for the stonemasons and their families — recent immigrants from England and Ireland. Today it serves as a vital venue for weddings, concerts, funerals, social gatherings and meetings. The Chapel reminds us of the well-knit social fabric that was dear to the new immigrants. They wanted a chapel close to their homes and farms, where they felt comfortable as they transitioned from a society steeped in class distinction to the more inclusive American way. Some stonemasons who built the Chapel during the Civil War also served in the great conflict. After falling into disuse, new life was breathed into the old stone walls by community volunteers, first during the 1970s and again during the late 1990s. Restoration was completed in 2009. The College Township Cemetery rests next to the Chapel, including burials that range from the mid-19th century to the current year. A Jewish cemetery was established in 2013 as an expansion of the College Township Cemetery. The Chapel is at the corners of Quarry Chapel and Monroe Mills roads, near Gambier, Ohio. The original Fish Quarry can be seen about 100 yards north on Monroe Mills Road. Friends of the Quarry Chapel, a not-for-profit, volunteer group, has sole responsibility for the management, improvement and maintenance of the Chapel. To learn more about the history, restoration and uses of the Chapel, please visit www.quarrychapel.com


  • Ke-Car Beef Farms: Keith and Carma Jo Kauffman purchased their Danville farm in 1988 and today have 200 acres and over 50 head of breeding stock black angus. Rotational grazing between hay and pasture offers the cows options for grazing. Keith has served as; Beef Superintendent at the Ohio State Fair, a member of the Cattlemen’s Association and the Ohio Angus Board and was named Knox County Cattleman of the Year in 2000. He also taught Agricultural Education (Vo-Ag) at Danville High School for a few years. Keith and Carma Jo have two daughters who are now married and several grandchildren, who enjoy being on the farm. Carma Jo has created a bluebird trail on the farm, and will have information available about bluebirds and birding for visitors. She is also a Master Gardener and will have exciting information available about gardening. Also, a quilt frame will be set up in the barn to give a demonstration of quilting.


  • Camp Mohaven: Is located at 18744 Turkey Ridge Road in Danville. Camp Mohaven is a premier Christian camp and retreat center for in Ohio. Owned and operated by the Ohio Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Mohaven occupies 700 acres of lush forest in the Danville area, bordering 2 ¼ miles of the scenic Mohican River. It’s a popular site for outdoor sports, horseback riding, and just getting out in nature.Guest lodging at Mohaven range from lodges with fireplaces, bathtubs, linen and kitchenettes to bunk-bed cabins. Camping sites range from those offering electrical/water hookup or primitive camping with open fire pits beside a nearby spring. Summer Youth Camps are from June through August where the grounds are filled with laughing young people having the time of their lives in a wholesome, caring, Christian environment. Mohaven has been a favorite choice for either outdoor or indoor weddings.  The spacious Cedar Lodge features a roomy and atmospheric banquet hall with commercial kitchen facilities. The main lodge serves both as a meeting place and a large dining room with a complete commercial kitchen. The camp also has a Welcome Center for guest services and a modern meeting and conference center that comfortably seats up to 200 people.  A fully operational stable with gentle horses allows for great horseback riding on our beautiful forest trails. Recreation at the camp includes horseback riding, canoeing, swimming, an 18-hole Frisbee golf course, volley ball and basketball courts, and of course miles of hiking in seasoned forest. Camp Mohaven got its name from the ‘Mo’ for the MOhican River and “haven” for the nearby town of BrinkHAVEN.


  • The Bridge of Dreams: The Bridge of Dreams is located on the Mohican Valley Trail at 16606 Hunter Road, Brinkhaven. The covered bridge spans 360-feet across the Mohican State Scenic River.  It is the second longest covered bridge in Ohio and the third longest in the United States, although the signage still claims it is the longest in Ohio. The Mohican Valley Trail is a 5-mile trail which runs along an abandoned right-of-way of the old Penn Central Railroad on the eastern edge of Knox County between Brinkhaven and Danville.  Visitors to the Bridge of Dreams will sense the rich history of the area, particularly the relics left behind by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Mohican Valley Trail allows for equestrians with their horses, the Eastern Knox County Amish population with their horse and buggies, as well as for bicyclists, roller bladers and walkers. The horse hitching posts located at the trailhead at 16606 Hunter Road, Brinkhaven are constructed of original metal pipe used on the railroad. The steel beams that form the structure for the Bridge of Dreams were erected in 1944. This portion of the Pennsylvania Railroad closed after the 1959 flood washed out the track and bridges to the east.    The Mohican Valley Trail is part of the Ohio to Erie Trail system, as are all the trails in Knox County (Kokosing Gap Trail and the Heart of Ohio Trail).  The Ohio To Erie Trail is a planned 320-mile route, of which over 90% is completed and open for use, and will eventually span Ohio from the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland to the Ohio River in Cincinnati. Recently the Knox County Park District repaved the parking lot which is handicapped accessible to the Mohican Valley Trail.  There is a shelter house and picnic tables on-site and an ADA compliant porta-john.  In addition to the new parking lot and improved drive to access the parking lot, the Mohican Valley Trail was repaved from the Bridge of Dreams just beyond the Knox County line to connect with the recently paved Holmes County Trail.  Holmes County assisted with partial funding to make this connection happen.  The Knox County Park District continues to thank Knox County citizens for passage of a modest .35 replacement levy in 2017 that allowed funding to make possible the drive and parking lot improvements and the repaving of the Mohican Valley Trail from the Bridge of Dreams towards Holmes County.  Food items of sandwiches, chips, cookies and drinks will be available at this stop with all proceeds going to the Brinkhaven Playground Fund to purchase new equipment.


  • The Ramser Arboretum  was founded by Jelloway businessman and farmer Russell Ramser. The Arboretum was established as an educational and outdoor recreation resource for individuals and groups interested in native Ohio hardwood trees. The Ramser Arboretum is located in northeast Knox County, Ohio, at the intersection of SR3 and SR205, adjacent to the Village of Jelloway. The Arboretum is open daily from dawn to dusk (closed during deer gun seasons). Activities include hiking the five miles of maintained trails. The terrain is hilly and the elevation difference is approximately one hundred feet. There are tens of thousands of planted Red and White Oak, Green and White Ash (and the effect of the Emerald Ash Borer), Tuliptree, Burr Oak, Pin Oak, Black Walnut, woods, wildflowers, ferns, and wildlife to observe on the trails. Cross country skiing is excellent and the trails were laid out by a cross country enthusiast, and are easy to difficult depending on the slope. Ramser Arboretum Trail Map