Finding Utopia : Another Journey into Lost Ohio

Overview

A fascinating journey through Ohio's forgotten past

In Finding Utopia, Randy McNutt sets off again to explore Ohio's forgotten nooks and byways. He begins where his last journey ended-on roads less traveled-finding more ghost towns, battlefields-turned-cornfields, and old memories that beckon him like spectral hitchhikers. On the way, he meets a cast of quirky and determined people who struggle to keep their towns on the map.

Aided by his aging...

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Finding Utopia: Another Journey Into Lost Ohio

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Overview

A fascinating journey through Ohio's forgotten past

In Finding Utopia, Randy McNutt sets off again to explore Ohio's forgotten nooks and byways. He begins where his last journey ended-on roads less traveled-finding more ghost towns, battlefields-turned-cornfields, and old memories that beckon him like spectral hitchhikers. On the way, he meets a cast of quirky and determined people who struggle to keep their towns on the map.

Aided by his aging Jeep and a longing to escape, McNutt discovers a pioneer inn that harbors the ghost of a headless coachman (and a surprising personal connection), a Victorian town that looks like an empty movie set, the gruesome battlefield on which the U.S. Army suffered its worst defeat ever by Native Americans, and a gunpowder manufacturing town that was blown to atoms on a sizzling summer day in 1890. Often encountering a past that is livelier than the present, he walks through another town where magnetic water once "cured" many ailments, stays the night in a stagecoach inn known for a ghostly cat and its owner who still roam the halls, finds a town built on cranberry bogs, and uncovers what's left of a World War I training camp sitting atop ancient Indian mounds. In tiny Utopia, for which this book is named, he descends into an underground stone chamber to hear tales of the spirits that haunt it.

McNutt seamlessly combines the genres of travel narrative, history, and memoir and effectively merges past and present, giving readers a strong sense of place. Finding Utopia will appeal to anyone interested in heritage tourism, folklore, Americana, Ohio history and lore, back roads, ghosts of many kinds, and small-town life.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
McNutt (Lost Ohio: More Travels into Haunted Landscapes, Ghost Towns, and Forgotten Lives) takes another journey into the history of small, vanishing, and unusual towns in Ohio. The introduction frames this undertaking as a way for McNutt to come to terms with leaving his hometown, and the book promises to be a memoir of personal as well as historical discovery. However, in his enthusiasm for the history of regular people in small towns, McNutt seems to forget to weave in his own story. In the few instances when he does—such as the discovery that his own innkeeper ancestors may have committed an infamous murder—the result is compelling. An addendum of town names with curious origins may be interesting for Ohio residents.

Verdict Overall, the omission of McNutt’s personal story makes the book less powerful and sometimes dry. However, Ohio residents, Americana history buffs, and small-town enthusiasts will find at least a few chapters to enjoy. After all, Utopia (and Tranquility, Equity, and Harmony) really can be found in Ohio.—Audrey Barbakoff, Kitsap Regional Lib., Bainbridge Island, WA

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606351314
  • Publisher: Kent State University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2012
  • Pages: 258
  • Sales rank: 1,483,281
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Moving On 1

Part 1 Big Dreams, Small Places

1 Finding Utopia 11

2 The Pull of Magnetic Springs 24

3 In Search of the Believers 35

4 Autumn at Sun Watch 47

5 Knights of Shawnee 53

Part 2 Lost Legends

6 Army of the Damned 69

7 A Village of Bones 84

8 The Road to Fort Laurents 100

Part 3 Back Roads

9 Freedom's Towns 109

10 Colors of Tranquility 124

11 The Legacy of Edward McClain 136

12 Ghosts of Rogues' Hollow 141

13 Confederates on the Island 148

Part 4 Ghosts of the Stage Lines

14 The Wickerham Secret 161

15 Riding the Line 174

16 Major Buxton, I Presume 188

Part 5 Vanishing Places

17 Ammo Towns 199

18 Phoneton Calling 205

19 Freezing on the Underground 210

20 Above the Fruited Bog 218

21 Camp Sherman of the Mounds 224

Ghost Town: The Naming of Ohio 232

Bibliography 245

Index 250

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