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10+ Epic Ohio National Parks (First-Hand Tips + Helpful Guide) 2021

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Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Ohio National Parks
Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) | Ohio National Parks

Ohio National Parks

Ohio National Parks! In this article, we feature some incredible park sites in the great state of Ohio. We’ve got 10+ national park sites for you to see on your next visit to the Buckeye State.

These Ohio National Parks include amazing historic sites, incredible monuments, iconic parks, legendary trails, and much more.

It’s the home of presidents and offers wonderful possibilities for travelers. Whether you’re looking for a cosmopolitan experience, a small-town retreat, or a great escape to nature you can find it in the Buckeye State.

To be clear, these include national park sites (as in managed by the National Park Service) but not capital letter National Parks. There are only 63 of those (so far) and only one of these parks is included on that list.

We’ll give you 10+ reasons why you’ll want to make Ohio your next vacation destination.


Ohio National Parks Table Of Contents

  1. Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
  2. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  3. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
  4. First Ladies National Historic Site
  5. Hopewell Culture National Historic Park
  6. James A. Garfield National Historic Site
  7. Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
  8. North Country National Scenic Trail
  9. Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial
  10. William Howard Taft National Historic Site

National Park of Ohio

1. Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument | Ohio National Parks

Charles Young House | Ohio National Parks
The Charles Young House (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) | Ohio National Parks

For almost 30 years, I taught high school history. What impresses me most about the field of history are the amazing stories of men and women whose contributions changed the course of human events. In doing so, they helped to bring about the world we have today.

The people we know, however, are few compared to the people we don’t. A case in point is Colonel Charles Young.

Born as a slave during the American Civil War, Charles Young lived a truly extraordinary life. He was the first African American to graduate from a white high school in Ohio. In 1884, Young defied the odds winning an appointment to West Point though a competitive military examination.

After confronting the racism which was unfortunately typical of his era, he emerged as only the third African American to graduate from America’s most prestigious military academy.

Captain Of An All Black Regiment

Charles Young | Ohio National Parks
Charles Young (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) | Ohio National Parks

Young served as a cavalry officer. He then became the captain of an all-black regiment at San Francisco’s Presidio. Young’s career path would take an interesting turn when managing the national parks became the responsibility of the U.S. Army beginning in 1891.

This was before the creation of a unified system of national parks or the establishment of an elite cadre of park rangers.

By 1903, the U.S. Military was providing protection at America’s parks. Young was assigned to take his troops to Sequoia and General Grant (what is now Sequoia National Park and a small portion of Kings Canyon National Park).

It was during the summer of 1903 that he made history by becoming the acting superintendent of the these two parks. He was the first African-American to hold such a position.

RELATED: 10+ (GIANT) Sequoia Tree & Kings Canyon National Parks Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.

-Booker T. Washington

No Poaching On His Watch

Poaching | Ohio National Parks
Poaching had become a problem in our nation’s parks | Courtesy of NARA

Poaching had become a problem in the parks given their limited supervision. As a result of Young’s leadership, however, there was no poaching reported at Sequoia or General Grant during his tenure as superintendent.

In commemoration, a Sequoia Tree would be named in his honor.

Young spent one summer as an acting superintendent at Sequoia/Kings Canyon before being reassigned as a military attache in Haiti. He then served in the same position in Liberia.

With General Pershing In Mexico

John J. Pershing | Ohio National Parks
Charles Young served under John J. “Black Jack” Pershing in Mexico. Pershing led the American Army in World War One. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Eager to see some action, Young went on to serve under General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing in Mexico. It was during this assignment that he engaged in active combat against the Mexican Revolutionary Leader Pancho Villa.

Charles Young Earns The Rank Of Colonel

Pancho Villa | Ohio National Parks
Charles Young would see action against the Mexican Revolutionary leader Pancho Villa | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Young was sidelined from active duty during World War One due to health issues, but returned to command after the war. He would earn the rank of colonel. Young died unexpectedly, however, in 1922.

As the National Park Service notes, Charles Young overcame stifling inequality to become a leading figure in the years after the Civil War when the United States emerged as a world power.

His work ethic, academic leadership, and devotion to duty provided a strong base for his achievements in the face of racism and oppression.

His long and distinguished career as a commissioned officer in the United States Army made him a popular figure of his time and a role model for generations of new leaders.

“The life of Charles Young was a triumph of tragedy.”

-W.E.B. DuBois

Things To Do At The Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument

Two men being interviewed by people holding microphones and cameras
Former Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar (blue suit, right center), and former NPS Director, Jon Jarvis (green suit, left center), being interviewed inside of the house during the April 2013 dedication of the park. Courtesy of the National Park Service

Visitors to the site can take a guided tour of the Charles Young Home. Here you can learn more about the incredible story of this remarkable man.

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2. Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Ohio National Parks

Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Ohio National Parks
You can take a scenic train ride at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Courtesy of the National Park Service (NPS)

You may have driven, fished, hiked, rode horseback, skied or swam in a national park, but did you ever travel through it by train? All Aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad!

Visitors to this national park can experience its natural wonders onboard a train as it winds its way through the Cuyahoga Valley and along the Cuyahoga River.

The trip by train provides passengers the opportunity to possibly spot eagles, deer, beavers, and herons in their natural habitat. It’s a great way to travel!

Hiking At Cuyahoga

Hiking at Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Ohio National Parks
There are over 125 miles of hiking trails at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Ohio National Parks

Of course you don’t have to travel by train. There are over 125 miles of hiking trails available too. These trails range from nearly-level to more challenging, and pass through various habitats including woodlands, wetlands, and old fields.

If you’re looking to do some serious hiking then I would recommend picking up a copy of the Trail Guide Handbook: Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area. It’s an excellent resource which will enable you to make the most of your hiking experiences while at Cuyahoga.

Other Things To Do At Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The Ritchie Ledges | Ohio National Parks
The Ritchie Ledges (Courtesy of the NPS) | Ohio National Parks

Popular attractions and activities include:

  1. Beaver Marsh where you will enjoy exceptional scenery and wildlife. It’s one of the park’s most popular destinations.
  2. Brandywine Falls which is a magnificent 60-foot waterfall that’s accessed by boardwalk.
  3. The Ritchie Ledges are a geologic wonder. The trail around The Ledges is 2.2 miles and connects to a larger network of trails in the Virginia Kendall Area.
  4. Blue Hen Falls is a 15-foot waterfall. To get there you will hike 1.5 miles (one way) from Boston Mill Visitor Center.
  5. The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is accessible by biking, walking or even wheelchair.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park also offers boating, fishing and horseback riding trails too.

RELATED: 4+ EPIC Indiana National Parks (Helpful Guide + Photos)


3. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park | Ohio National Parks

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park | Ohio National Parks
Entrance sign for the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and Aviation Trail Visitor Center and Museum (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) | Ohio National Parks

Growing up you were probably taught that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” As I’m an avid history buff, what I learned is that “two Wrights make one fabulous airplane.”

All joking aside, on a cold, windy morning on December 17, 1903, history was made. It was at the sandy dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, that two Ohio brothers changed the world.

These two intrepid brothers, named Orville and Wilbur Wright, built and successfully tested the first airplane, the Wright Flyer 1. They were early pioneers of flight who faced tremendous obstacles.

The Wrights were ridiculed as cranks and fools. As award-winning author and historian David McCullough notes:

“I don’t think they were ever happier in their lives than they were living in the extreme hardships of Kitty Hawk. The attacks of mosquitos, the winds, the struggle they had against the elements. But they loved it.”

They Had The Wright Stuff

Historic photo of the Wright brothers
Historic photo of the Wright Brothers’ third test glider being launched at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, on October 10, 1902. Wilbur Wright is at the controls, Orville Wright is at left, and Dan Tate (a local resident and friend of the Wright brothers) is at right. | Courtesy of the National Park Service

Before experimenting with airplanes, the Wright brothers ran a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. In 1900, the brothers traveled from Ohio to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to begin a series of flight experiments which would rewrite the history of aviation.

While their historic flight lasted only 12 seconds it was nevertheless the first flight in history in which a machine carrying a man had raised itself by its own power into the air in full flight, had sailed forward without reduction of speed, and had finally landed at a point as high as that from which it started.

“Without the Wright brothers’ invention, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart would not have made their solo trans-Atlantic flights until much later. Aircraft would not have been as effective in the world wars, and jet and rocket engines would have been developed later as well. The Wright Flyer is also an antecedent to the space shuttle.”

-U.S. Department of the Interior, First Flight: The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Airplane, by Tom Crouch

Things To Do At The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center | Ohio National Parks
Visitors enter the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center (Courtesy of the NPS) | Ohio National Parks

The Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center is one of two visitor centers operated by the park in Dayton, Ohio. It’s located just west of downtown Dayton. Visitors can go there and learn the amazing story of Orville and Wilbur Wright.

The Center also celebrates the achievements of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dunbar was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, on June 27, 1872, to parents who had been enslaved in Kentucky before the American Civil War.

Dunbar went on to become one of the first influential African-American poets in American literature.

You Can Visit Paul Dunbar’s Historic Home

Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site | Ohio National Parks
The front entrance sign to the Dunbar House (Courtesy of the NPS) | Ohio National Parks

The Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site honors his legacy. Visitors will learn about the renowned poet and his mother, Matilda. The house, the interpretive exhibits and displays inside the home document Dunbar’s travels, lifestyle and poetry.

Visit The Site Where Aviation History Began

Huffman Prairie Flying Field | Ohio National Parks
At Huffman Prairie Flying Field you can see the replica rail and catapult system used by the Wrights to propel their airplanes at takeoff (Courtesy of the NPS) | Ohio National Parks

There is a second interpretative center. It’s the Huffman Prairie Interpretive Center. It’s located northeast of downtown Dayton, next to the Wright Patterson Air Force Base and the National Museum of the Air Force.

While you’re there you’ll have the opportunity to visit the site where aviation history began. At Huffman Prairie Flying Field you can explore the area and view a replica hangar that is very similar to the one which the Wrights used to house their airplanes. 

You can also tour a replica of the bike shop that the Wright Brothers operated. It’s part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Visitors can step back in time and tour the bike shop where the Wrights fixed bicycles and refined their mechanical ingenuity to develop the world’s first practical airplane.

And there’s Carillon Historical Park. It’s a 65-acre open-air history museum you can learn about the history of Dayton, Ohio. There you can view the world’s first practical airplane, the 1905 Wright Flyer III.

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4. First Ladies National Historic Site | Ohio National Parks

First Ladies National Historic Site | Ohio National Parks
First Ladies National Historic Site in Canton, Ohio (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) | Ohio National Parks

Almost 50 women have served as the “First Lady” of the United States. At the First Ladies National Historic Site in Canton, Ohio, you can explore a museum of rotating exhibits, watch a film which examines the legacies of America’s first ladies, and check out the National First Ladies’ Library.

You can also step back in time and visit the Saxton House. It’s the former home of First Lady Ida and President William McKinley.

Ranking America’s First Ladies

So, who’s the most influential first lady of all time?

The Siena Research Institute attempted to answer that question by ranking each woman who has been a First Lady, on a scale of 1-5, five being excellent, in ten separate categories:

  1. Background
  2. Integrity
  3. Intelligence
  4. Courage
  5. Value To The Country
  6. Leadership
  7. Being Her Own Woman
  8. Public Image
  9. Accomplishments
  10. Value To The President

The Top Ten First Ladies

Lady Bird Johnson was America’s Environmental First Lady. Here she is at the Grand Teton National Park (Courtesy of the National Park Service) | Ohio National Parks

In 2016, the most recent survey released ranked all of America’s first ladies. Here are the top ten in reverse order:

Coming in at 10th Place is Rosalyn Carter. She took up the issue of mental health research as her main cause while also serving as husband Jimmy’s most influential advisor.

In 9th Place we have Martha Washington. America’s first first lady set the precedent for those who would follow.

And then there’s Betty Ford in 8th Place. Mrs. Ford was a breast cancer survivor who took up numerous causes, including breast cancer awareness and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. She also founded the Betty Ford Center to combat substance abuse and drug addiction.

In 7th Place we have Lady Bird Johnson. Lyndon Johnson’s wife was the “Environmental First Lady.” Major legislative initiatives resulting from her efforts included the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Land & Water Conservation Fund and the Wild & Scenic Rivers Program.

In 6th Place there’s Hillary Clinton. She championed health care reform. After her husband left office, she also proved that a woman’s place was not in the house, but in the Senate instead. She was the first former first lady elected to the U.S. Senate. In 2016, she was also the first former first lady to run for President of the United States.

The environment is where we all meet, where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.

-Lady Bird Johnson

The Top Five First Ladies

First Lady Michelle Obama and Students from Harriet Tubman Elementary School Film an Episode of Puppy Bowl for Animal Planet (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) | Ohio National Parks

And now we turn our attention to the “Top 5.” Coming in at 5th Place is Michelle Obama. She championed causes that included: childhood obesity, veterans’ wellness and education for young women. She was also the first African-American to serve as America’s First Lady.

In 4th Place we have Dolly Madison. She served as an unofficial first lady for the bachelor Thomas Jefferson before becoming first lady in her own right as the wife of James Madison. Dolly Madison championed social causes of her time and used her extensive social networks to support her husband’s political career. 

And Dolly Madison is the first women to have been referred to as “first lady” by President Zachary Taylor in his eulogy of her.

And now in 3rd Place is Jacqueline Kennedy. She is considered by many to be America’s most glamorous first lady. Mrs. Kennedy demonstrated tremendous grace in the days following her husband’s tragic assassination.

In 2nd Place is Abigail Adams who was America’s second first lady. She was considered by many to be the intellectual equal of the leading political minds of her time including her husband John Adams as well as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. She also was the first first lady to live in the White House.

“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals.”

-Michelle Obama

America’s Most Influential First Lady

Eleanor Roosevelt is considered to be America’s Most Influential First Lady. Courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library & Museum

I love doing historical research which is probably why I ended up teaching history for almost 30 years. You’re likely familiar with rankings. You know that they tend to change over time. And yet the woman considered by many knowledgeable experts to be America’s Most Influential First Lady hasn’t changed.

Eleanor Roosevelt served as First Lady for over 12 years. She played an active role in advising her husband and was the first first lady to hold her own press conferences. Mrs. Roosevelt also championed causes, such as Women’s Rights, and supported programs, such as the one which gave African Americans the opportunity to become fighter pilots during World War Two.

Eleanor Roosevelt was the first first lady to remain an influential political force after her husband’s death. She served as Chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

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“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

While In Canton, Ohio, There’s Another Hall Of Fame Worth Seeing

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

We’re More Than Just Parks which means we’re more than just parks. If you’re planning on traveling to Canton, Ohio, to see one collection of “All Stars” then why not see two while you’re there?

The Pro Football Hall of Fame opened in 1963. Over the years, it has expanded and been transformed into a 118,000 square-foot museum. You can tour this incredible museum and learn about the talented athletes who played what is today considered to be America’s most popular sport.

This museum features a number of interactive experiences. And while you’re there be sure to visit the Hall of Fame Gallery, which houses the bronze busts of each of its inductees .

There are touchscreen kiosks available which include bios, photos and videos of the inductees.

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.

-Vince Lombardi

5. Hopewell Culture National Historic Park

Hopewell Culture National Historic Park | Ohio National Parks
The park’s visitor center at Mound City Group (Courtesy of the NPS) | Ohio National Parks

The Hopewell Culture National Historic Park is a testament to Native Americans who built dozens of monumental mounds and earthen enclosures in southern Ohio nearly 2,000 years ago.

These earthwork complexes were ceremonial landscapes used for feasts, funerals, rituals, and rites of passage associated with an American Indian religious movement that swept over half the continent for almost 400 years.

Visitors can walk among the earthworks while experiencing the past.  (Source: NPS)

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6. James A. Garfield National Historic Site | Ohio National Parks

James A. Garfield National Historic Site (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) | Ohio National Parks

James A. Garfield served as Brigadier General in the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln, however, felt that Garfield could be of greater use to the Union cause in Congress. So, being a good soldier, Garfield resigned his commission in 1862 to serve eighteen years in Congress. He became the leading Republican in the House of Representations.

In 1880, Garfield was nominated for the presidency. He defeated his Democratic opponent, another former Civil War General named Winfield Scott Hancock, by a mere 10,000 votes.

Historians consider Garfield to have been a “brilliant maybe.” He was committed to political reform and hemispheric cooperation. Sadly, on July 2nd, 1881, he was struck by an assassin’s bullet.

Garfield spent two and a half months in a slow, agonizing decline before dying on September 19, 1881.

Things To Do At The James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Library at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) | Ohio National Parks

If you’re a first timer then I recommend that you start your visit to James A. Garfield National Historic Site in the Visitor Center. There you can see the 18 minutes biographical movie of James A. Garfield and tour the museum exhibits which examine his life.

You’ll have the opportunity to step back in time, put yourself in the mindset of our nation’s 20th president and imagine what might have been had Garfield not been tragically cut down at the outset of what many believed could have been a consequential presidency.

Then you can explore the beautiful grounds surrounding Garfield’s home.

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7. Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail | Ohio National Parks

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail | Indiana National Parks
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail at Decision Point (Courtesy of the National Park Service) | Ohio National Parks




The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail follows the historic outbound and inbound routes of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I don’t know about you, but I get goosebumps just thinking about the Corps of Discovery.

Commemorating the Lewis & Clark Expedition (1804-06), the Lewis & Clark Trail connects 16 states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon).

This trail is administered by the National Park Service. It’s not a hiking trail, but does provide opportunities for hiking, boating and horseback riding at many locations along the route.

It’s a great opportunity to see the USA while learning about the brave men (and one woman) who weren’t able to make the journey in an air-conditioned SUV.

What Can I See In Ohio That’s Connected To Lewis & Clark

Map of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail | Indiana National Parks
Lewis & Clark Trail Map (Courtesy of the National Park Service) | Ohio National Parks

Places of interest to visit in Ohio include:

  1. Campus Martius Museum-Founded in 1788 by Rufus Putnam, Marietta, Ohio, was the first settlement established in the Northwest Territory.  The stockade was known as Campus Martius, so named because it put settlers and soldiers alike in mind of the Fields of Mars, a training ground once used by ancient Roman legions.  
  2. Eulett Center-The Eulett Center takes its name from Charles A. Eulett, a teacher and naturalist from Adams County who advocated for the protection of local prairies and grasslands in the 1960s and 70s. The nature preserve protects 20,000 acres of pristine forestlands, prairies, ravines, and slopes.
  3. Historic Fort Steuben-It’s a reconstructed military fort located in Steubenville, Ohio, along the Ohio River. The Reconstruction of Fort Steuben began shortly after 1986, 200 years after the fort’s initial creation, and was led by the Old Fort Steuben Project. (Source: NPS)

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8. North Country National Scenic Trail | Ohio National Parks

North Country Scenic Trail | Wisconsin National Parks
Beautiful view from the North Country Scenic Trail on the Hiawatha National Forest in the Upper Peninsula of the state of Michigan (USDA photo by J. Knowlton) | Ohio National Parks

The North Country National Scenic Trail provides visitors opportunities from bird watching to backpacking.

The trail traverses eight northern states and connects a host of natural, historic and cultural sites. You can see everything from small towns to larger cities, valleys to hilltops and much more.

The History Of The North Country National Scenic Trail

North Country Scenic Trail | Wisconsin National Parks
North Country National Scenic Trail (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) | Ohio National Parks

In 1980, the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) was authorized by Congress. It stretches 4,600 miles from upstate New Hampshire to its western terminus at Lake Sakakawea State Park.

The trail actually traversed seven states until 2019 when Vermont was added. The Vermont section is only about 70 miles long.

The Trail enters Ohio from southern Michigan and joins the Wabash Cannonball Trail. It shortcuts a portion of this rail trail through Maumee State Forest and Oak Openings Metropark. Dipping south and following the Maumee River, the NCT converges with the Buckeye Trail.

It passes through more urban areas like Dayton and Xenia, skirts east of Cincinnati, and nearly reaches Kentucky before trending further east then eventually north again. (Source: North Country Trail Association)

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9. Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial | Ohio National Parks

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial is located on Lake Erie in Ohio and was built to commemorate Commodore Oliver Perry’s victory over the British in the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) | Ohio National Parks

The Korean War is referred to as the “Forgotten War.” As a former high school history teacher, I can tell you that it’s not the only war my students forgot. Another such conflict was the one which came between the American Revolutionary War and the Mexican American War.

It was known as the War of 1812 or the Second War of American Independence.

In the rematch between Great Britain and its former colonists, Oliver Hazard Perry was a U.S. naval officer. He became a national hero when he defeated a British squadron in the Battle of Lake Erie.

This was the war in which the British actually marched on Washington. They set the Capitol ablaze as America’s leaders fled. The United States desperately needed victories and Perry’s naval success was a tremendous morale booster.

He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1814 for his heroic actions.

Perry later went on to command a diplomatic and anti-piracy naval mission to Venezuela. Sadly, he died of yellow fever in 1819 at the age of 34 while still at sea.

A Memorial Was Built To Honor Perry

Oliver Hazard Perry by Jane Stuart (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) | National Parks Ohio

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial was established to honor those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie and to celebrate the long-lasting peace among Great Britain, Canada and the U.S.

The Memorial is a Doric column which rises 352 feet over Lake Erie. It’s situated 5 miles from the longest undefended border in the world. It’s an important reminder that freedom is not free.


10. William Howard Taft National Historic Site

William Howard Taft National Historic Site (Courtesy of Wikimedia) | Ohio National Parks

While he is not considered a great president, he’s most certainly considered a large one. Weighing in at upwards of 330 pounds, William Howard Taft was the largest man ever to hold the office.

Taft had studied law and served in several minor appointive offices until 1887, when he was named to fill the unfinished term of a judge of the superior court of Ohio. From 1892 to 1900 he served as a judge of the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. So far, nothing he did brought him any special distinction, but that was about to change.

In 1901, Taft became the first civilian governor of the Philippines under President William McKinley. His administration of the Philippines was considered a success.

In 1904, Taft returned to Washington to serve as Theodore Roosevelt’s secretary of war. Four years later, Roosevelt endorsed him for the presidency. He was elected in 1908.

During his tenure in office, William Howard Taft signed the first tariff revision since 1897; established a postal savings system; formed the Interstate Commerce Commission; and prosecuted over 75 antitrust violations, far more than pursued by the famed “trust- buster” Theodore Roosevelt.

Things To Do At The William Howard Taft National Historic Site

William Howard Taft by William Valentine Schevill (1864 – 1951) (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) | Ohio National Parks

I recommend beginning at the Taft Education Center. It’s the park’s only visitor center. There you can see the film, William Howard Taft, Public Servant. It’s approximately 15 minutes and covers the life and legacy of Taft and his career as a judge and a politician from the local level through the federal ranks. 

There’s also a gift shop with souvenirs and an assortment of Taft and presidential-related books.

From there you can take a ranger-guided tour of the birthplace and home to the nation’s 27th President. Did you know that William Howard Taft was the only president to also serve on the Supreme Court? He was the 10th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Visitors will take a trip back in time as the home is decorated in Victorian-era style, which it was during the years that William Howard Taft lived in the house.

To Learn More | Ohio National Parks

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Twilight-Zone-Books-Wikimedia-2-770x1024.jpg
So many books, so little time. Why not take a deeper dive with some excellent book recommendations. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
  1. For Race and Country: The Life and Career of Colonel Charles Young by David Kilroy.
  2. Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment: The Military Career of Charles Young by Brian G. Shellum.
  3. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.
  4. First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower.
  5. Women of the White House: The illustrated story of the first ladies of the United States of America by Amy Russo.
  6. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard.
  7. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose.
  8. Oliver Hazard Perry: Honor, Courage, and Patriotism in the Early U.S. Navy by David Curtis Skaggs.
  9. The Naval War of 1812: A Complete History by Theodore Roosevelt.
  10. The William Howard Taft Presidency by Lewis L. Gould.

RELATED: 30+ Best National Parks Books (Great Gifts For Parks Lovers)


Map Of Ohio National Park Sites

List Of Ohio National Parks

  1. Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
  2. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  3. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
  4. First Ladies National Historic Site
  5. Hopewell Culture National Historic Park
  6. James A. Garfield National Historic Site
  7. Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
  8. North Country National Scenic Trail
  9. Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial
  10. William Howard Taft National Historic Site

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Tony Pattiz

Tony Pattiz is a retired history teacher currently researching and writing articles for More Than Just Parks.

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