Tuesday, February 26, 2008

US 20 in Ohio: Geneva

US 20 intersects the small city of Geneva, Ohio, which is only a few miles from the shores of Lake Erie. The city sits almost right between the much larger cities of Cleveland, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania, both between 45-50 miles away in each direction. The area is surrounded by vineyards and wineries, the area having a climate ideal for growing grapes.

According to the Visit Geneva OH website, it is believed that Bob Dylan “almost certainly” hitchhiked on US 20 (called Main Street) on his 1961 trip from Minnesota to New York City to visit the ailing Woody Guthrie. (No one can say that they really saw Bob, though.)

Geneva State Park

What is most interesting to visitors to US 20 in Geneva is not what is directly in Geneva, but just about 2 miles to the north of US 20, in Geneva-on-the-Lake. There you will find the relatively new Lodge at Geneva State Park, which sits right on the shores of Lake Erie. But, just around the corner is the famous – maybe infamous – Strip of Geneva-on-the-Lake. It is like a place frozen in time, looking like something out of the 1940s and 1950s, filled with small arcades and attractions, along with small cottages. In years past, it was a family vacation place, many people coming west from Cleveland and east from Erie on Route 20 to enjoy the beaches and the games. In fact, my parents may have honeymooned there in the 40s.

The Strip in Geneva-on-the-Lake (from city-data.com)

With the advent of more freeways – I-90 is very close by - many families passed up US 20 and Geneva-on-the-Lake for places a little farther away and faster to access. For a time in the 1970s Geneva-on-the-Lake became a rough place, being invaded by some not so nice bikers. However, over the years things have settled down. It is still a favorite hangout for bikers, but now everyone has respect for the varied crowd that the area brings. In fact, the 2nd Annual Thunder on the Strip is being planned for September 5-7, 2008.

So if you’re traveling in eastern Ohio this summer, check this place out and take a step back in time.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

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