Located in Ohio’s Appalachian range is an Ohio county that is made up of a tapestry of both history and natural resources, just waiting to be explored. This vast area of approximately 207,000 square miles includes three state parks and has a past that includes “Old West” gunfights, massacres, the Underground Railroad, a river system that helped shape Ohio, ties to Morgan’s Raid and is home to the largest dragline bucket. When visiting Morgan County, you will find that it has quite a colorful past to share, as well as beautiful sunrises and sunsets with rolling hills that offer spectacular views of the countryside and a fun winding road driving experience. Keep your camera ready.
Located along the Muskingum River, McConnelsville is Morgan County’s largest community. Settled in 1817, the town is named after General Robert McConnel, a Revolutionary War officer and one of the first settlers to the area. Over the years, the town has maintained its small town feel, historical architecture and is the perfect stop to start learning about the history of the county.
Places to visit in McConnelsville:
Morgan County Historical Society Museum
68 E. Main St., McConnelsville, OH 43756
740-962-4785 | historicalmorgancounty.com/museum.htm
- Works by the renowned illustrator, Howard Chandler Christy
- Memorabilia from world famous magician, MacDonald Birch
- Information about Morgan’s Raid
- The typewriter of Composer Lelia Naylor Morris (1862-1929), who wrote over 1500 hymns.
Evelyn True Button House (Historical Marker #58-14)
142 E. Main St., McConnelsville, OH 43756
740-962-4785 | historicalmorgancounty.com/museum.htm
(Please call ahead for a tour.)
- Architecture – Federal style home built in 1836.
- Home of the great granddaughter of General Robert McConnel, founder of McConnelsville. General McConnel also served in the War of 1812.
- Evelyn True Button was Ohio’s first female high school principal.
- The museum is home to a vast collection of 1830 to 1890 period furnishings and artifacts.
- A Carriage House and Blacksmith Shop are also located on the property.
The Doll House
126 E. Main St., McConnelsville, OH 43756
If you are a doll collector, you are going to want to make a stop at the museum. The museum boasts a collection of over 2600 dolls, doll houses, doll clothing and doll accessories.
Twin City Opera House
On the Square, McConnelsville, OH 43756
740-962-3030 | operahouseinc.com
- Built in 1890, the Twin City Opera House is home to the Ohio Valley Opry.
- The theater has been operating continuously since its Grand Opening in 1892.
- The Opera House features a ground floor auditorium. In fact, it’s one of the last remaining auditoriums with this style of architecture. The beautiful central dome allows for perfect acoustics for the actors.
- A charming feature of the auditorium is that over the years, the seating has changed. If you look from the stage back, you will see that there are different sized chairs.
- Make sure you find out the history of the “owl” that can be seen above the Opera House entryway. Hint: It has something to do with politics.
- If you love ghost stories, the Opera House has its share. Learn more here.
- Currently the theater is featuring family-friendly movies. Visit their website for updates.
- Tours are available by contacting the Opera House direct.
More Notable Historical Sites:
The Rock Hollow School (Historical Marker #58-17)
142 East Main St., Malta, OH 43756
(Open May to October by appointment.)
This one-room schoolhouse was originally built in 1877 and held classes for fifty-seven years. The schoolhouse was re-located by the Morgan County Historical Society to its present location. A peek inside you will take you back to a time when children were all taught in one room.
The Morgan County Dungeon (Historical Marker #58-1)
142 East Main St., Malta, OH 43756
Adjacent to the one-room school you will find a dungeon. Yes, I said dungeon. At first you may come to conclude that this is where the school children were sent for punishment. In actuality, the dungeon was located beneath an old jail. During 1833 to 1839, town folk who were caught committing adultery, as well as other notorious deeds were sentenced to time in the dungeon. Today, you can experience what it would have been like to have been sent to the dungeon.
Big Bottom Memorial Park (Historical Marker #58-11)
“Named for the broad Muskingum River flood plain, this is the site of a 1791 attack on settlers by American Indians that marked the start of four years of warfare in Ohio.” Click here to learn more.
2741 OH-266, Stockport, OH 43787
As slaves made their way north through Ohio, the path to freedom included a stop in the Quaker Village of Chesterfield, nka Chesterhill. The Quakers were known as being abolitionist and their meeting house was a station on the underground railroad. The “Quaker Meeting House” is still used today for both meetings and worship.
The Quaker Meeting House (Historical Marker #58-15)
1510 Coal St., Chesterhill, OH 43728
Also, located in the town, is the Chesterhill Multicultural Genealogical Center which offers a wealth of information for those seeking to gain more knowledge on African-Americans in Southeast Ohio, including Civil War files, and a collection of material on those who would consider their heritage “Melungeon. The center is also a perfect stop for those who are looking for area family history or to learn more about Ohio’s Underground Railroad.
The Chesterhill Multicultural Genealogical Center
7540 Marion Street, P.O. Box 125, Chesterhill, Ohio 43728
This is one stop that you can mark off your “bucket list”. Literally.
Located in the Jesse Owens State Park and Wildlife Area, is the Miner’s Memorial Park. There you will find a memorial to the men and women who worked the local mine, as well as the “Big Muskie”. From 1969 to 1991, the Muskie bucket was used by the AEP Muskingum River Power Plant to surface mine over 483 million tons of soil and rock. It was the largest dragline ever to be built. Each scoop could swallow 220 cubic yards of earth. I was told that is the size of a 12- car garage or a lot of school buses, whichever way you want to calculate it. That is a lot of dirt and coal!
Miner’s Memorial Park (Historical Marker #58-10)
4470 E. St. Rt. 78, McConnelsville, OH 43756
Get Your Motor Runnin’
Biking enthusiasts will love the winding roads and the scenic views of the Triple Nickel (Rt. 555). In fact, you will find this Ohio winding road listed on most motorcycle enthusiasts must do list. But beware. This road is not for the novice bicyclist.
Suggested food stop:
Where else would you want to eat if you are on the Triple Nickel, but at the Triple Nickel Diner. The diner is locally owned and uses locally sourced ingredients in creating many of their dishes. Check their website for updated menus and times.
Triple Nickel Diner
1060 High St., Chesterhill, Ohio 43728
740.554.3299 | https://www.triplenickeldiner.com/
Closed Monday – Wednesday
Visit a Produce Auction.
Chesterhill Produce Auction
8380 Wagoner Rd, Chesterhill, OH
(Between SR 555 & SR 377)
Auctions are held every Monday & Thursday at 4PM.
(Seasonal April – October)
740-677-4047 | chesterhillproduceauction.com
If you love the thrill of an auction, you’d better bring your cooler, a chair and some cash, because the highest bidder wins. Twice a week, Appalachian farmers bring their crops to Chesterhill to be auctioned off. Restaurants, schools, markets, and locals come to the auction to purchase locally grown produce. The auction can last up to three hours.
Wood product and livestock auctions are held every second Saturday of the month from March through December.
(Please note: If you use a debit or credit card there is a surcharge. And if you decide to buy any livestock, including chickens you will need your own cage. )
Explore the outdoors.
There are three Ohio State Parks located in the county, as well as the Buckeye Trail, the AEP ReCreation Land, and the Muskingum River. There is a reason why Morgan County is the “Front Porch to the Great Outdoors”.
It is truly a place where nature shares its wildlife and its beauty. Perfect for hikers, bird watchers, fishermen, hunters, campers, and family explorers. If you want to view Ohio’s fall foliage, this Appalachian area will not disappoint.
Muskingum River Parkway State Park
547 E Riverside Dr. McConnelsville OH 43756
“The Muskingum River is the longest continually navigable river traversing Ohio.” The locking system has earned its place in history, as a “National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark”. The ten locks are still manually operated to this day. The day of our tour provided us the opportunity to observe a pontoon boat making its way through one of the locks. If you decide to navigate the river, you will need to call ahead. (Click: How to Lock Through.) There are primitive camping sites available within the parkway, and the area offers boating, fishing, and picnicking.
Burr Oak State Park
10220 Burr Oak Lodge Rd, Glouster, OH 45732
740-767-3570 | website
Jesse Owens State Park and Wildlife Area
4470 E. State Route 78, McConnelsville, OH 43756
The Buckeye Trail – For trail information click here.
MY OHIO FUN ROAD TRIP NOTES:
Before you go:
- Order or download your FREE Morgan County visitor guide.
- Contact the visitor bureau for any assistance in planning your trip.
- Pack your camera. You’re going to want to take lots of photos.
- The best way to enjoy Morgan County is to take it slow. Enjoy the area’s small-town charm and natural beauty.
A visit to McConnelsville would not be complete without a visit to Ohio’s oldest family owned, full-service hardware. Established in 1845, the hardware store is located in the heart of downtown. When visiting don’t forget to look-up at the tin cut ceiling which was installed by the founder the hardware store.
50 E. Main St., McConnelsville, OH 43756
740-962-4261 | website
If you are not into hardware stores, then browse the isles of the smallest Kroger store in the chain. You are going to be surprised how many items they have been able to pack into this small grocery store.
240 W Main St, McConnelsville, OH 43756
Can’t forget about the local food.
The Boondocks BBQ & Grill
4653 N State Route 60 NW, McConnelsville, OH 43756
740-962-4100 | theboondocksbbqandgrill.webs.com
Although our tour did not allow us time to enjoy one of their meals, the Boondocks BBQ & Grill received high marks from the locals.
El Palenque Mexican Restaurant
205 West Main Street, McConnelsville, OH 43756
740-651-5206 | Facebook page.
If you enjoy Mexican dishes, you are sure to find your favorites being served up at El Palenque.
Enjoy a brew.
Old Bridge Brewing Company
281 West Main Street, McConnelsville, OH 43756
740-651-5042 | oldbridgebrewing.com
The Old Bridge Brewing Company is a new area brewery and taproom that has made its home in a 100-year old building in historic downtown McConnelsville. Once a car dealership and a repair shop, the microbrewery offers IPA’s, Lagers, Stouts, Seltzers and more. If you are hungry, you can order food from a local restaurant and they will deliver it right to the taproom or to their outdoor patio. If you like to sample different craft beers, then order one of their flights. If you stop, make sure you check out their “Pay-it-Forward” board.
Where to stay:
If you give me a choice, I will always choose a local bed and breakfast over a chain.
Stockport Mill Inn (Historical Marker #58-7)
1995 Broadway Ave., Stockport, OH 43787
740-559-2822 | stockportmill.com
The Inn was once a working Grist Mill that drew power from the Muskingum River Dam at Lock #6. Each of the 14 restored rooms in the Mill offer beautiful views of the river. A fine dining restaurant is on site, as well as a gift shop. The perfect spot to rest your head and recharge after a day of traveling the countryside.
MyOhioFun Road Trip Note:
- Owner, Dottie Singer, and her daughter are wonderful hosts and their homestyle cooking is delicious.
- Throughout the Inn, you will see that care has been given to preserving the architecture, the Mill’s original operating equipment, and its historic charm.
- There are no public elevators in the Inn. Rooms are located on four floors.
- Spa suites are available, as well a 2 Bedroom Captain Hook suite.
- Each level of the Inn has its own common area for guests.
- Reservations are required.
- Disclosure: Our media tour included accommodations at the Inn, as well as a delightful homemade dinner. (Please note all opinions are my own.)
The Inns at 8th & Main
Historical Boutique Bed & Breakfast
214 E. Main St., McConnelsville, OH 43756
740-651-5198 | https://www.innsat8thandmain.com/
Built in 1835, The Stone House was once a stagecoach stop and tavern. Today, the home has been converted to a bed & breakfast, offering two guest rooms and a king suite.
Burr Oak Lodge
10660 Burr Oak Lodge Road, Gloucester, OH 45732
740-767-2112 | stayburroak.com
What is fascinating about Burr Oak State Park, is the history of the area. The “Valley of Sunday Creek” was once settled by Native Americans. Followed by settlers and then coal miners. Our guide for the day shared a little history of one town called “San Toy”. It seems this town had quite a notorious reputation, including a robbery of the coal company’s payroll. The town has long since turned into a ghost town, but the stories and its history still make up the fabric of the county.
For those who like to take a hike in nature, the park offers over 40 miles of trails. Looking for a little more privacy? Cabins are available for rent or your may want to set-up camp at one of their many campsites.
MyOhioFun Road Trip Note:
- Make sure you check out the State Park’s special page for any current accommodation deals and packages.
- If you like to fish, pack your pole. The lake has bluegill, crappie, catfish, and largemouth bass. A valid Ohio fishing license is required and can purchased online.
- We suggest making reservations ahead of your trip. The reservations team can be reached at 740-767-2112.
Breathtaking views. Waterways. Covered Bridges. Small Town Charm.
I hope you enjoyed a little taste of Morgan County, and I truly hope you find yourself enjoying their front porch in the very, very, near future.
Morgan County Convention and Visitor Bureau
35 W Main St, McConnelsville, OH 43756
740-962-4909 | visitmorgancountyohio.com
This past August, I was invited to join five other influencers for a 3-day journey through three different southeast Ohio counties. The media tour was sponsored by Guernsey-Cambridge CVB, Muskingum-Zanesville CVB, and Morgan County CVB. During our tour we visited museums, historical sites, as well as state parks. We also sampled local faire and even toured a glass factory! A lot was crammed in those 3 days, but I walked away with a whole new perspective.
I would like to thank our Morgan County host, Wendy Waite, Executive Director of the Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau for being such a gracious host and tour guide. Your knowledge of the area is remarkable.
Article and photos by: D. Rock, MyOhioFun.com
Editor’s note: Any use of the above article or images without prior permission, will be in violation of copyright laws.
***Disclosure: MyOhioFun.com was guest of Morgan County’s Convention & Visitor Bureau. Transportation, accommodations and meals were supplied. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***