They say Ohio is a cross-road state. Lots of people cross through Ohio going somewhere else without ever realizing the beauty, traditions, and rich heritage that carved this state out of a dangerous and deadly wilderness. In time Ohio became the land where dreams were realized and a flood of immigrants from Europe and the east coast flooded into the state making it a true melting pot, unique in the country and unlike any other state.
First Ohio is a 4 season state. In reality it means we sometimes we can have all 4 seasons in one week anytime during the year. That’s why winters seem to drag on and on here because we experience multiple years of weather in such a short span of time.
Some years the seasons get out of phase. Months normally associated with winter, may switch with summer and winter may replace spring. The reason is simple: we live in some kind of vortex that can turn a beautiful warm spring day into a raging snow storm in the span of 6 hours.
These are just a few of the things first time visitors should be aware. Here's a few more things you might want to keep in mind.
Speaking of weather, the first snowfall of the season brings traffic to a crawl. By the third snow, anyone that is driving with a modicum of caution will be blown off the highway by someone driving an SUV.
Being new to the state, you’ll find TV weather segments dominate local news. If there is a possibility of flurries anytime during the next few days, it is wall-to-wall “possible” snow event coverage. When the white snuff starts to fall, local stations undoubtedly will have an on location reporter bundled head to foot with enough layers they could survive a week in the arctic, holding a ruler to measure the accumulation.
Later in the season a reporter will be reporting from on of the big salt piles strategically located and tell us how long the “snow warriors” have been in position ready to assault the coming accumulation. TV personalities refer to snow plow drivers as “snow warriors” even though only TV personalities are the only ones that make this reference.
Schools will more often than not close for the duration of the flurries. Grocery stores will have runs on bread and milk. People that haven’t drunk a glass of milk in years will feel the urge to have one just in case this weather event turns out to be another big one like 1978. Everyone that was alive and in Ohio in 1978, remembers that one, even those that weren’t still remember it.
Soft drinks are called “pop” or sometimes "cokes" even if what you’re getting is a Pepsi. They only people that call them "sodas" are from people that are transplants from the east. Sodas are carbonated drinks with ice cream and are often called “floats” which can never be confused with 4th of July parades that have lots of community “floats” that more often than not are just a flatbed truck with bleachers filled with previous high school graduates.
If you plan on driving a car, be prepared for encounters with orange barrels. Road construction season begins on January 2 and runs through December and like Camelot, construction is often only done at night. It’s often a tradition with road construction projects to design them so they last no more than 5 years at most before they need to be redone once again.
If you venture outside of the big five cities (Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Akron) you will find an unbelievable number of small towns named for places on the east coast or places in Europe. Those places that aren’t named for somewhere else, are often given a Native American name that is unpronounceable in almost any language except its original tongue.
Those born in the Buckeye State, have a natural accent that they don’t realize they have. For example, we don’t live in Ohio, with live in Ahia. It’s a Native American term that means something like 4 seasons in one week or something like that. Native American names and words are common throughout the state, as well as Native American leaders. Because Ohio was formed just after the formation of the United States, there are many Revolutionary War names associated with the state: Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison, and Hamilton. Revolutionary War names are also common, but perhaps the most notable name is Wayne. This is probably the most widely used name in the state. We have Wayne County, Wayne National Forest, the village of Wayne, many schools named Wayne, many townships named Wayne. The person being honored fought in the Revolutionary War where he earned the monicker "Mad" Anthony Wayne. The nickname wasn't because of his mental state, but because of his audacity in leading a small elite military group that did what seemed like the impossible at the time. These exploits put General Wayne as a capable leader and when he needed someone that could handle a difficult problem, President Washington called up his old friend from the war to bring peace to the western frontier between the pioneers and some of the increasingly hostile Native Americans.
General Wayne led an expedition from Cincinnati (which Wayne named) all the way up to about where Toledo is located today. Along the way he fought a number of battles with an American Indian Confederacy led by Little Turtle. The results of this fighting and Wayne's leadership, a treaty and lasting peace was established and within less than 10 years, Ohio became a state.
Other common names found in abundance include Sandusky. There is Sandusky the town which is where Cedar Point is located, there is an Upper Sandusky which is south of Sandusky on the Sandusky River. At one time there was a Lower Sandusky, but this was later renamed Fremont. Long before the pioneers came to this land, Native Americans used a trail that connected the Ohio River and Lake Erie, This trail followed two rivers: the Scioto and the Sandusky. Today, highway SR23 roughly follows the trail until it reaches Upper Sandusky. From there SR 23 follows the military road built at the onset of the War of 1812 by General William Harrison.
Ohio is named for that river to the south, but in truth only the first 15 feet of it belong to Ohio. The rest belongs to Kentucky. Don’t ask me why but they do. The name Ohio has Native American origins in the word Oyo, which some translations mean "great river" and some translations have it meaning "good river." An early French explorer named LaSalle, called it "beautiful river" and so that translation also has some merit.
When the Mound Builders arrived in what would someday become Ohio, came up the Mississippi River, then the Ohio River and Miami Rivers, the Scioto River and the Muskingum River in their exploration and settlement of the land. There's no record as to what they called these rivers and the only record we have that they were even here are the giant earthworks they left behind when they disappeared from the land sometime around 1000 A.D.
Most Ohioans don’t have a clue about the history of the state, even though there’s more than 1400 historical markers scattered throughout its 88 counties. Just before Ohio became a state, the wild-west was what would become Ohio. Just living here was a life and death proposition. Our fore-fathers knew what it meant to be a Buckeye long before it became tradition.
Today, living in Ohio is usually NOT a life or death situation, unless... a snow squall is approaching from the northwest. Then, all bets are off and you better get some milk and bread to weather the white apocalypse.