A short drive leads to trip back in time
I visited one of my favorite little communities this past week.
news source "The Times Leader"
On Wednesday afternoon, I took an impromptu drive through Morristown. Although I was actually looking for a large group of law enforcement officers who had been called to handle an incident I knew almost nothing about at that point, I couldn’t help but notice a few changes in the village.
Morristown was platted 220 years ago, and it was named for settler and innkeeper Duncan Morrison. It was established by Jonathan Zane and William Chaplin along the path of the developing National Road — the highway to the West throughout the first half of the 19th century.
The presence of the road and all the traffic it carried led to growth, and hotels, stores, factories and mills grew up around it. Many of those buildings are still standing in Morristown, which is the best preserved example of a “Pike Town” in Eastern Ohio, according to morristownohio.org.
In the 1850s, there were as many as 40 or 50 businesses in town, including blacksmiths, cigar factories, grocers, clothiers, Saddlers, wagonmakers and many others. Many of those buildings were abandoned in the decades that followed, as a new form of transportation — the railroad — bypassed Morristown and ran through communities to the south instead, passing from Zanesville to Barnesville and through Bethesda and Belmont on its way to Bellaire.
Today, the remaining 19th century buildings in Morristown are largely occupied again, but they now serve as private homes.
Of course, being from nearby Belmont myself, I know several of the people who occupy or work to preserve these historic structures. And, being a history buff, I also know that many of these buildings were built in the 1840s and ’50s.
It’s amazing to see how they have stood the test of time!
What’s also amazing to me is how much some of these structures have been improved. Driving along Main Street last week, I noticed some new roofs and siding, as well as equipment stationed at buildings that are being renovated. I was happy to see that all those improvements seem to be in keeping with the original appearance and historic colors of the original construction.
There’s just something special about this little slice of a bygone era. No matter why I visit the village, I always appreciate its character and feel like I can see and hear the shadows of those who came there before me.
So, if you have business to conduct in or around Morristown, take the time to notice just how much of the original community has been spared for posterity.
Or, if you have a leisurely day to spend somewhere in the region, consider making an intentional visit. Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places are clearly marked with bits of their history on plaques near their entrances. A walking tour is also outlined on the website mentioned above.
In addition to its historical significance, Morristown has a 73-acre park with ballfields, playground equipment, disc golf and more. And it is near many other attractions, such as Barkcamp State Park, Pike 40 restaurant, Valleyview Campgrounds where Blame My Roots Fest is held, and the Union Local schools campus.