Thursday, September 30, 2010

Johnny Appleseed Follow-up

As a follow-up to my blog about Johnny Appleseed in Lorain County (back here), I paid a visit to the Johnny Appleseed Educational Center and Museum down in Urbana, Ohio last weekend. It was a fairly long drive on a Sunday afternoon (more than three hours one way!) but it was a must-see for fans of the American folk hero.

The reason I went last weekend was because it was the final day of the Johnny Appleseed's 236th Birthday Celebration and Tree Planting Tour sponsored by American Forests.

I'm really not the biggest tree-hugger around, but I think this is a fine organization, and its Historic Tree Program is pretty unique. It's a cool concept to be able to purchase a tree that is a descendant of a variety of famous ones, including an apple tree planted by the tin pot-wearing pioneer himself, or one of George Washington's red maples found at his home at Mount Vernon.

After a pleasant Sunday drive down there (taking as many back roads as possible), I was given a guided tour of the Museum, which is said to have the largest collection of Johnny Appleseed memorabilia in the world. After seeing it all, I believe it.

Since there are no photos of Johnny Appleseed, it was interesting to see the different representations of him throughout the Museum. Some artists saw him as a tall, gaunt figure; others decided he was a chubby, apple-cheeked guy. His image adorned books, paintings, advertisements, collectible plates and even a comic book. I liked the comic book version best (although he looked like Santa Claus), probably because I hadn't seen one of those Classics Illustrated comic books in a long time!

The Museum also has a nice big chunk of bark (at left) from the last remaining tree planted by Johnny Appleseed on display. The tree still stands in Nova, Ohio. (I guess that's a destination for some future Sunday drive.)

Outside the Museum, there was a small festival centered around the Johnny Appleseed Birthday Celebration, with vendors peddling apple treats and other crafts. I spent some time talking with the owner of The Green Owl, a retail store in Urbana specializing in pottery, jewelry and paper crafts. Here's a link to its online store.

All in all, I enjoyed my trip to Urbana and the Johnny Appleseed Educational Center and Museum. It was a nice way to wrap up my brief odyssey into the world of Johnny Appleseed.

One thing for sure, I've been eating a lot more apples lately!

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