The War of 1812 in Northern Ohio

By Ron Davidson, Host Committee member

Perry's Victory, painted by William Henry Powell of Cincinnati in 1865. The painting is currently hanging in the rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse (photo courtesy of the Ohio History Connection, Perry's Victory Collection, SC 1038,8354)
Perry’s Victory, painted by William Henry Powell of Cincinnati in 1865. The painting is currently hanging in the rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse (photo courtesy of the Ohio History Connection, Perry’s Victory Collection, SC 1038)

The bicentennial of one of the nation’s “forgotten” wars, the War of 1812, has recently passed. It is not quite as forgotten in Ohio, however, because this region was the northwest front of the United States of America’s war with Great Britain, its Canadian colony, and their Native American Allies. Ohio was both a defensive front and a staging area for the invasion of British held territory, including Canada. If you have some spare time to study history and enjoy the region, there are several nearby sites to visit.

The Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, shortly after construction (photo courtesy of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center)
The Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, shortly after construction (photo courtesy of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center)

Lake Erie was a significant battleground in the war against the British, culminating in the Battle of Lake Erie, fought just off South Bass Island (better known as Put-in-Bay) in 1813. Oliver Hazard Perry led the American fleet to a victory that gave the United States control of Lake Erie for the remainder of the war. This allowed the Americans to take back Detroit, at the west end of Lake Erie. The battle and the subsequent years of peace between the United States and Great Britain are commemorated at the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial at Put-in-Bay. You can get to the island via passenger ferry from Sandusky or Port Clinton, or by auto ferry from Catawba Island (each a little more than an hour’s drive west from Cleveland). About a hundred miles to the east of Cleveland, in Erie, Pennsylvania, you will find a replica of the brig Niagara, from which Perry let the battle after his flagship, the Lawrence, was destroyed.

A little further to the west are other historical battlegrounds of the War of 1812. Perrysburg, just south of Toledo, is home to Fort Meigs, built in 1813 by order of General William Henry Harrison as a defense post in the Northwest Territory of the United States. Twice in 1813, American troops withstood siege from British and Native American forces. Later in the war, a redesigned Fort Meigs was used as a supply depot for an attack on Canada. Today a replica fort stands on the grounds, offering museum exhibits and public events. On August 22 and 23, the Fort will host re-enactors and craftspeople demonstrating “Life in Early Ohio.”

Fort Meigs Blockhouses, photo by John Stanton 10 Sep 2010, under Creative Commons license. via
Fort Meigs Blockhouses (photo courtesy of John Stanton, via

And if you like to hunt for historical markers, Ohio has plenty of those on the War of 1812, including one at the site of Fort Stephenson in Fremont. “Old Betsy,” a cannon that helped to defend the fort, is in position at the site, but now it “guards” the Birchard Public Library.

The grave of George Croghan, leader of American forces, and the cannon “Old Betsy,” used to defend Fort Stephenson, now the site of the Birchard Public Library, Fremont, Ohio (photo courtesy of

Neighborhoods: Lakewood is for Archivists

Lakewood, Ohio
Lakewood, Ohio (Courtesy of theunquietlibrarian via Flickr Creative Commons)

Located to the west of Cleveland on the shore of Lake Erie, Lakewood is one of the inner-ring suburbs that surround the city proper. The area was settled by farmers in the early 1800s and was established as a city in 1911. Typified by a variety of home styles and sizes from the workmen’s cottages of Bird Town to the millionaires’ estates of Clifton Park, Lakewood is known as the “City of Beautiful Homes.” It was most recently designated “A Great Place to Call Home” by Business View Magazine.

#SAA15 attendees looking for a break from the hustle and bustle downtown should take time to visit this friendly, laid-back community which boasts a number of tranquil parks, including one of Ohio’s largest lakefront recreation areas. Main business districts on Detroit Road and Madison Avenue boast acclaimed dining, retail, and entertainment establishments.

Some of the top Lakewood restaurants include Melt Bar and Grilled for a grilled cheese extravaganza like no other, Pier W for fabulous views and great seafood (and an even better brunch, if you’re here on a Sunday and can think ahead to make reservations), Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar, El Carnicero, Forage Public House, Barroco Grill, Dewey’s Pizza, Buckeye Beer Engine, and Voodoo Tuna for unique sushi creations. If after dinner you’re up for a bit of gaming, head out to 16 Bit Bar + Arcade or The Side Quest. And be sure to top the night off with Griffin Cider Works for authentic English-style cider made in Ohio by an Englishman!

To help plan your visit further check out these resources:

How to get there? Lakewood is easily accessible by car or hired ride as well as Cleveland RTA busses and trains leaving from Public Square.

Northeast Ohio: Quick Trips to Surrounding Counties

Map of counties surrounding Cuyahoga County and Cleveland
Map of counties surrounding Cuyahoga County and Cleveland. Map of Ohio counties (image courtesy Ohio Department of Transportation)

By Jillian Carney, Host Committee member

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Cleveland while you are attending SAA this August?  Try taking a quick trip to one of the surrounding counties to experience all that Northeast Ohio has to offer! From coastline to countryside, there is something for everyone to see or do.

For more information on upcoming events or activities, check out the county visitors bureau’s websites below:

Lake County:

Geauga County:

Portage County:

Summit County:

Medina County:

Lorain County:

Shipping and Submarines on the Great Lakes

By Leslie Cade, Host Committee member

The Great Lakes transportation industry has had a major impact on Cleveland, and conversely, the city has played a significant role in its development. Many rivers flow to the south shore of Lake Erie. Historically, a town developed at the mouth of most of them. Only three – Toledo, Cleveland, and Buffalo – emerged as major cities, with water transportation as the focus. For all three, the catalyst was canal construction, with each serving as a terminal point. By the late twentieth century, 115 million tons of cargo were shipped on the Great Lakes by 58 U.S. flagged ships. Stone, cement, coal, and iron ore remain mainstays of waterborne transportation in Cleveland, and the revival of the traffic in bulk cargo, primarily iron ore, has kept Cleveland at the heart of the transportation industry on the Great Lakes.

You can learn about shipping on the Great Lakes at the steamship William G. Mather, flagship of the Cleveland-Cliffs steamship company, now a floating museum berthed at the East Ninth Street Pier right next to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

“A Stern Look” at the William G. Mather, with Cleveland in the background (photo courtesy of Laszlo Ilyes via Flickr, creative commons license)

You can also experience life on a World War II submarine with a visit to the U.S.S. Cod, a GATO class fleet submarine named for the world’s most important food fish, just east of the William G. Mather.  The sub’s five diesel engines were built by the General Motor’s Cleveland diesel plant on the city’s west side. After being decommissioned from active service, the Cod served as a naval reserve training vessel until being reactivated as a museum in 1976. It achieved National Historic Landmark status in 1986.  The Cod is the only U.S. submarine on display with its original stairways and doors so be prepared for a real submarine experience!

U.S.S. Cod (photo courtesy of Cliff via Flickr, creative commons license)
U.S.S. Cod (photo courtesy of Cliff via Flickr, creative commons license)

Enjoy some of the other maritime sites in Ohio while you’re here!