Some of the smaller cities in Ohio have become well known because of quirky spectacles and places there to visit.
Here are seven towns made infamous for unique reasons:
1. Ava: USS Shenandoah crash
The U.S. Navy launched the USS Shenandoah — the nation’s first rigid dirigible (an airship) — in 1923, and two years later, on Sept. 3, 1925, it crashed in the hills of Southeast Ohio during a thunderstorm while on an ill-advised tour of Midwestern state fairs. The incident killed 14 of 43 crewmembers.
The crash site is now an official Shenandoah Memorial that people can visit – with a small replica of the airship floating inside a tall granite archway and a bronze plaque with the names of those who died – and there also is a trailer full of artifacts and memorabilia related to the Shenandoah.
2. Zanesville: Y Bridge
Zanesville’s charmingly strange bridge is one of just a few in the world that can be crossed without changing sides of the river.
Located over the Licking River, the city’s Y Bridge is so unique that even aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart once remarked that it made Zanesville “the most recognizable city in the country.”
3. Athens: The Ridges
Originally monikered the Athens Asylum for the Insane, this massive institution has become the source of modern folklore, making the city known as one of the most haunted places in the U.S.
The facility first opened its doors in 1874 on more than 1,000 acres of land atop a hill across from the campus of Ohio University. Treating more than 1,800 patients in 78 buildings, it was one of many mental hospitals using treatments such as lobotomies, but Ronald Reagan’s “de-institutionalization” redefined the official standard for mental illness and days of “The Ridges” were marked from there.
The final patients left the Athens Center in 1993, and the building stood vacant for several years until renovation work was completed in 2001, turning the main building into Lin Hall housing music, geology, and biotechnology offices, as well as the Kennedy Museum of Art. Nearly all of the dozens of hospital buildings have been remodeled and put to use by the university.
4. Peebles: The Great Serpent Mound
This 1,348-foot-long, three-foot-high prehistoric effigy mound along Ohio Bush Creek appears just as the name would indicate. Early records indicated it is a depiction of a snake swallowing an egg, while others claimed it represents the phases of the moon by the representation of the snake swallowing it.
The mound has been designated a National Historic Landmark, making this small Adams County town in Southwestern Ohio widely known.
5. Mansfield: The Ohio State Reformatory
Also known as the Mansfield Reformatory, the Ohio State Reformatory is a historic prison made famous by the filming of The Shawshank Redemption, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, in 1994.
Built between 1886 and 1910, it was closed in 1990 by a federal court order but now is open for tours throughout the year.
Often described as Germanic castle architecture, the prison is impressive in scale and construction. Most of the outer wall and support buildings for the prison have been demolished over the past couple of decades, but the main building still stands and is maintained by the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society, which oversees the tours.
6. Dublin: Field of Corn
Commissioned by the Dublin Arts Council and completed in 1994, the Field of Corn consists of 109 six-foot white ears of concrete corn that sprout right up from the ground just off the highway.
It sits on a former corn field toiled by farmer Sam Frantz, who worked with The Ohio State University on the creation of several species of hybrid corn.
Central Ohioans frequently refer to the work as the Cement Corn, and it is visited by residents of Dublin and out-of-towners alike.
7. Newark: Basket building
Once the home office for Longaberger Baskets, this strange structure is actually a seven-story building that resembles its products and can hold up to 500 people.
The building opened in 1997 and was designed like the “medium market basket” the company sells, though it is no longer used as Longaberger’s corporate headquarters. After spending three years on the market, the big basket sold in January of 2018 for $1.2 million.