Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Prehistoric Forest in the Family Album

Prehistoric Forest has long been a favorite topic on this blog, as I noted a few days ago when I wrote about its sister attraction, Mystery Hill.

Well, shortly after my August 2014 post about the now-extinct dinosaur attraction, I received an email from the administrator of the "Oberlin in the Past" Facebook page. The post had reminded her of some old photos in the family album that had been unlabeled, and thus – a mystery.

She wrote, "Could these pictures be from that Prehistoric Forest? I have been wondering where they were taken.” She originally thought that the photos were from a family trip to California in 1963. "The signs are cut off, so I can't be sure – but I have been wondering for years,” she wrote.

Here are her vintage family photos. As you knew from the title of this post, they were indeed taken at Prehistoric Forest. You can compare the photos with the vintage postcard at the top of this post.

I pointed out to her that in addition to the "PRE-" and "-TORIC” signs visible in the photos, there's that Cheesehaven sign on the bench in the first shot which is a dead giveaway as to where the photos were taken! 
"Hah! Isn't that funny,” she wrote back. She planned to upload her now-identified photos to a vintage roadside attraction website.
Anyway, it was very nice of her to share some family memories, and provide a rare glimpse of Prehistoric Forest during its early days.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Hotel Victory at Put-in-Bay Burns – August 14, 1919

The Hotel Victory at Put-in-Bay
Have you ever been to Put-in-Bay? I know a few people who have lived in the Lorain area all their lives, and have yet to visit South Bass Island.

If you have paid a visit to Put-in-Bay, you probably checked out the ruins of the old Hotel Victory, which burned down exactly 99 years ago today.
Here’s the account of the mysterious disaster as it appeared on the front page of the Lorain Times-Herald the next day. It includes a nice history of the hotel and its guests.

For an excellent history of the hotel and the fire that destroyed it, be sure to visit the Midwest Guest blog by clicking here. The well-written post contains great photos, including several of the former hotel property today.

Monday, August 13, 2018

East Harbor State Park Postcards

Since I was writing about Mystery Hill a couple days ago, I think I’ll loiter here on the blog out in Vacationland a little longer. After all, summer is rapidly slipping away. So let’s pay a visit to East Harbor State Park through a series of vintage postcards.
East Harbor State Park has long been a favorite destination of the Brady family. It was one of the places (along with Mill Hollow) where we learned to camp.

According to online sources, the park has been around since 1947. Here are a few early postcards promoting the park, which is located on a peninsula near Marblehead.

Here are a few more beach shots. Who can forget those huge (and hot) slabs of stone leading down to it.
As I mentioned, we enjoyed camping at East Harbor. Here are some postcards promoting the campground. Hey, our tent might be in one of those shots!
When the Texas Bradys come east to Ohio for a spell each year, a picnic at East Harbor State Park is often a highlight of their visit. Here are two postcards of pic-a-nic’ers of the past.
The one was postmarked 1960.
And lastly, a day of fun at East Harbor wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the concession stand for some goodies.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Pixieland Miracle House

On yesterday’s post, I mentioned that there were attractions similar to Marblehead’s Mystery Hill all over the country.

One of them was out in East Manitou Springs, Colorado. How do I know about it? Because my parents saved a tourist guide from our family trip to Colorado back in the summer of 1970. Here’s the proof (below).
The guide is a lot of fun to look at, and I pull it out every once in a while to examine the ads for the many long-gone attractions – such as Pixieland.
As you can tell from its sign, Pixieland boasted two attractions: the Mystery Hill-like Miracle House, as well as a miniature golf course.
(I’m not sure that ‘Miracle House’ is such a good name for an attraction like this. It seems more suitable for a place where people come to be healed, not watch to water flow uphill.)
Here are the two ads that appeared in the Pike’s Peak Regionnaire Complete Information and Visitors Guide for the week ending July 31, 1970. I like the Pixieland logo type. (But where is the obligatory pixie advertising mascot?)
I wonder why the shacks in these gravity-gone-wild attractions always seem to have knotty pine walls?
Anway, here is a vintage postcard giving you a glimpse of the Pixieland golf links. Maybe the pro shop was located in the Miracle House.
And here are a few images of Pixieland’s advertising brochure.
Courtesy Frank Brusca’s website
So what became of Pixieland? It lasted into the early 1980s at least, with a mention of it in the August 20, 1983 Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph. By that time, the whole complex was called Wet ’N Wild Waterslide and Amusement Park.
By the end of the 1990s, however, according to the Society for Commercial Archeology, the sites for both the Miracle House and Pixieland Miniature Golf were “weeds and rubble.”
Today a variety of office buildings and parking lots make up the former Pixieland property at 327 Manitou Avenue.
It’s hard not to feel a little melancholy about the passing of the era in which tourists were amused and entertained by quaint little attractions like Pixieland.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Mystery Hill Girl

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been eight years since I paid my Farewell Visit to Prehistoric Forest and Mystery Hill out at Marblehead and wrote about it here on the blog.

(Both attractions have been favorite topics here, with my original post about Prehistoric Forest; some vintage postcards and a collection of articles about both attractions; and the aforementioned three-part Farewell series of posts when the attractions closed for good.)

I’ve found a few new Mystery Hill postcards since my last blog post. All were published by Buckhorn Press Inc. of Gatlinburg, Tennessee with photography by Gene Aiken.

Most of the postcards feature the same pretty young girl. She’s wearing the same outfit in each photo so it must have been a busy day of shooting. We’ll call her the Mystery Hill Girl.

Here’s the Mystery Hill Girl on the Mystery Table. I like that knotty pine paneling.

Here she is again. The caption for this postcard was, “DID YOU EVER SEE WATER FLOW UP HILL?”
In this shot, the Mystery Hill Girl has picked up a little buddy. Well, maybe she’s not really a little buddy because she’s taller than the Mystery Girl in one of the photos. (The caption is “NOW SHE IS TALLER, NOW SHE IS NOT!”)
In this shot, the little buddy takes a break from shooting and relaxes in the Mystery Chair.
There are also postcards out there for Mystery Hill attractions in different parts of the country. They feature other models, including some Mystery Hill Adults.
But it’s only the blonde Mystery Hill Girl who is featured on three postcards. I wonder if she gets a kick out of being recognized by postcard collectors everywhere?

Let’s hope she’s still out there somewhere in America, enjoying life as well as her fame.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Mysterious Clifton House in Avon – August 1949

These days, the Morning Journal is no longer a “Lorain” newspaper. Its coverage includes much of Northeast Ohio beyond Lorain County, in an attempt to reach a larger readership – and stay in business as well.

But back when the newspaper was the Lorain Journal, it still covered stories beyond the city’s borders. In the 1940s and 50s, the paper had a particular interest in historic houses in Lorain County with a story to tell. Sadly, most of these homes are gone today – but the Journal’s stories about them survive (and often appeared on this blog.

Here’s one of those stories, about a mysterious house in Avon. The article ran in the Lorain Journal on August 18, 1949.

Mysteries Surround Avon Home

No one can say if the whisperings surrounding an Avon house over 100 years old stand true.

But’s a known fact the strange old home at 36468 Detroit-rd twice yielded gold from its walls – slightly over $100 – and that unaccountable wealth may be buried above its oval windows today.

All that Miss Beulah Clifton, 40 King-st, Oberlin, recalls is she was born in the 12-room mansion her grandfather built about 1826. And that about $100 in gold coin was discovered inside its damp foundation walls.

“My father found almost $100 in gold coin,” said the employe of the Elyria Savings and Trust Co.

Believed To Be Slave Hideout
The mansion was once reported to be a slave hideout.

Large windows, deep rooms, a massive foundation and adjacent barn alone testify to the era when elderly Mr. Clifton – a notary public and apparent village prominent – made his way to and from his home by carriage and deposited his earnings in the walls.

The present owners added to the story when they discovered a deerhide trunk and a tombstone.

“Upstairs in a large, unfinished attic with jutting rafters,” said Mrs. Bill Wingate, “in a tiny room all plastered and finished and standing by itself, was a trunk dated 1774, a marriage license of 1829 and a supina [sic] dated 1860.”

The tombstone inscribed “Ann Clifton, 1854” Mrs. Wingate has inverted for use on her front stone steps. She found it in the basement.

21 Acres On Wingate Land
The Wingates’ land (Bill is associated in Lorain with Mobile Vendor Corp.) extends back 21 acres. Their 14-year old son Douglas now plays baseball near the window where gold was found and close by the purported burial ground.

No one knows what the tombstone was doing in the basement. And neither the Wingates or her parents Mr. and Mrs. M. D. Miller who live there have prowled in the strange attic – except once – because no stairway connects it to the mysterious old Detroit-rd landmark.

It appears that today, the 36468 Detroit Road address of the mysterious house roughly coincides with the entrance to French Creek Reserve. The winding lane’s name – Clifton Way – is an apparent nod to Mr. Clifton.
Today, the relocated Clifton barn is part of Old Avon Village. Here's the link to the website for The Clifton Barn at Old Avon Village.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Sheffield Lake Model Home Ad – August 1941

I haven’t done one of these in a while – in which I post an old model home ad and then go out and see what it looks like today. So here’s a new one for your viewing enjoyment.

In this case, the ad ran in the Lorain Journal on August 9, 1941. The house in the ad (located on Dillewood Avenue in Sheffield Lake) wasn’t for sale, but the builder was offering to duplicate it exactly.

And that he did. There are two homes on Dillewood today that look pretty much like the one in the ad.

One of them – on the east side of the street – is listed on the Lorain County Auditor website as being built in 1900. That means that the Auditor’s office doesn’t know when it was built.

Here is the house. It’s one of the first ones you see as you proceed south on Dillewood.

And here's the second house, which is located a little bit further down the street on the west side. (Photo courtesy of the Lorain County Auditor’s website.)

Here’s a Google Maps view of the second house (below). I like how the owners were home, watching their house being photographed! (At least it wasn’t me with the camera this time!)
At first I thought that the second house may be the one in the ad, because the wires behind the house are exactly in the same spot. But the Auditor’s website says it was built in 1946.

So I guess I’m going to have to go with House #1 because of the scalloped (why am I suddenly hungry?) trim, which matches the house in the ad. Plus the shadows on the front door seem to match the house in the ad better too.

In case you’re wondering, I did drive down Dillewood to make sure there weren’t any other architectural clones.