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  • Fort Meigs State MemorialFort Meigs State Memorial Toledo, Ohio
    Fort Meigs was a post on the Maumee River near Toledo, Ohio in the War of 1812, but wasn't started until the winter of 1813 under the leadership of General William Henry Harrison. The construction started in the harshest of conditions, with the cold winter winds blowing across the swampy land, with a sentry freezing to death during his guard post within two hours. It would be the longest wooded walled fort in North America and named in honor of the Ohio governor, Return J. Meigs, Jr., who had helped Harrison with supplies and men for the forts that would line the Old Northwest frontier boundary. In May, 1813, General Henry Proctor, the British leader, and Chief Tecumseh started a siege against the fort, and a Colonel Dudley had taken a party out of the fort and never returned. The same thing would happen to many wood gathering parties from the American fort, usually ambushed and slaughtered by the Native Americans fighting for the British. Harrison had been able to withstand the attacks because of the undulating terrain inside the fort, with long broad hills created in the fort that were called traverses, that would buffer the shells coming in from the British, as well as giving the soldiers a safe haven to sleep. When the damper weather arrived, these quarters would become soggy and damp, forcing many of the troops to go outside and sleep in the army issued canvas tents. Proctor increased the siege on May 9, 1813, and since Harrison had mobilized the soldiers into an army, left General Green Clay in charge. Clay would hold the fort when another attempted siege occurred again in July, which forced the British to leave the region. After that, Harrison ordered the fort taken down. Presently, the fort has been rebuilt, and is now a state memorial to the courage and perseverance of these hardy fighters, and the 65 acre park contains a complete reconstructed fort. It is located in the corner of a local cemetery, where the remnants of the original British artillery positions were still seen. There is a wonderful Visitor's Center museum, with displays of the frontier, the early Native Americans, the role of the fort in the War of 1812, military life and the history of the War of 1812. You can visit the reconstructed blockhouses and stockade area once outside the center and it is just as it was back then. There are numerous re-enactments of those battles at the fort every year; that includes the first siege, that are the actual recorded events that took place during that period, with military and artillery from both sides. This is held on the Memorial Day weekend, and on Memorial Day, there is a marvelous ceremony that commemorates the fallen soldiers. On Father's Day weekend, the muster on the Maumee is re-enacted with a timeline event that contains various battle re-enactments that have Roman soldiers to the present day army of one. July 4th celebration had the events that occurred on July 4th, 1813, and is honored with an 18 gun salute and toasts to the fallen soldiers. Another great event is the Drums Along the Maumee, that brings together a drum and bugle corps that uses the historical drums and fifes from that period, but brings these excellent musicians from all around the nation to participate in the celebration. In the end of October, the Garrison Ghost Walk happens on the last two weekends, where a guide takes you on a dark ghostly walk in the night telling you the horror stories that will raise the hair on your head and the back of your neck.

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  • SS Willis B. Boyer Maritime MuseumSS Willis B. Boyer Maritime Museum Toledo, Ohio
    The SS Willis B. Boyer, was a lake freighter that was a commercial vessel on the Great Lakes for most of the 20th century and is now in the process of being restored to be used as a museum ship in Toledo, Ohio. July 1st, 1911, a little before noon, there were hundreds of people standing on the shores of the Great Lakes, and on the vessels in the Ecorse, Michigan shipyard, in the shadow of steel and smoke. These people had come to the area to see history in the making at the Great Lakes Engineering Works, with a ship slowly sliding down the docks to the water; the Col. James M. Schoonmaker was on her way. Gretchen V. Schoonmaker would christen the ship named in honor of her father, a Civil War hero, and railroad industry innovator. Sliding down the ways, the steel monster, would become the world's biggest bulk freighter, nicknamed "the queen of the lakes". Besides from being huge, the Schoonmaker showed a bit of elegance that wasn't normal for ships of freight, which would be the showpiece of her owner, William P. Snyder, as well as his flagship for the fleet that would be built. The vessel would give such elegant passenger accommodations that it would be rivaled against outstanding transatlantic steamships like the Olympic and Lusitania. On her first trip, the behemoth freighter would carry 12,650 tons of coal from Toledo to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and would be the beginning of a great number of voyages. The Schoonmaker would retain her crown from July 1, 1911 to April 14, 1914, making many tonnage records for rye, coal and iron ore cargoes. The ship would be the widest until 1927, and the most regal for the rest of her career. The Schoonmaker would be leased to the Wilson Marine Transit Co. in 1965, and it looked like her illustrious career with the Shenango Furnace Co. was at an end; but the vessel was returned to the Shenango fleet in 1966 and continued to sail under their flag until 1969, when they liquidated all their assets. In 1969, she was bought by the Interlake Steamship company and chartered to the Republic Steel Corporation, and renamed the Willis B. Boyer in honor of the president and CEO. In 1972, the Boyer would be sold to one of the most respected and oldest fleets on the lake, the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Co. In 1972, as the Boyer set sail under the flag of the Cleveland Cliffs company, she was actually starting the final period of her sailing. Once hailed as the world's biggest freighter, the Boyer was now dwarfed by the technologically improved self-unloading 1000 foot freighters of the 1970s. However, the ship was still cared for by sailors and marine buffs, so she continued to sail deeper into history with every trip, since she personified the Golden Age of the Great Lakes shipping, and by 1980, she was docked at the Toledo Frog pond, for the last time and looked at an uncertain future. The Cleveland Cliffs steamship company, now more than a century old, and in the midst of a great decline in tonnage commitments, in 1984, stopped operations. In 1986, the Boyer would be saved from the scrap heap after she was purchased by the city for a museum ship. Somehow, fate still has a hold on her, as she is docked at International Park, in the same location where she had loaded her first cargo in 1911, and is now the biggest museum ship on the inland seas, bringing thousands of visitors each year.

January 11, 2011