Wednesday, June 4, 2008

US 20 in Ohio: Indian Museum of Lake County

Literally a stone’s throw away from the intersection of US Route 20 (Euclid Avenue), near the corner of Center and River Streets in quaint downtown Willoughby, Ohio, is the Indian Museum of Lake County. The museum was established in 1980, and includes exhibits of the earliest Native Americans from the Lake County area from 10,000 B.C. to 1650 A.D. Groups represented are Paleo, Archaic, Adena, Hopewell, Whittlesey and local Whittlesey.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently featured the museum; the article, and link, follows:

Discover Area's Primal Past at Indian Museum of Lake County

Tuesday, June 03, 2008
By Deanna R. Adams

Did you know that if you live in Lake County, there is a chance you can still find an ancient Indian artifact in your own backyard?

And if you lived in Eastlake in the 1970s, you most likely did.

Thousands of artifacts including pipes, stones, shells, bone hair pins and beads, turned up in the area in 1973 when property on Reeves Road was sold to make way for condominiums. Pipes, in particular, were easy finds.

"There were so many pipes in the area because there were a lot of tobacco patches there," says Ann Dewald, director of the Indian Museum of Lake County.

The Lake County Chapter of the Archaeological Society established the Museum in 1980. Today it is located in downtown Willoughby.

Exhibits include ancient artifacts dating back to 10,000 B.C.E., from areas including the Eastern Woodlands, the Great Plains, the Southwest, California, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Various groups known to roam the Lake County area include the Paleo Indians (the area's first inhabitants), the Archaic Indians, and the Hopewell people, among others.

Indian arts and crafts from North America, from 1800 to the present, are also displayed at the Willoughby museum. And there are hands-on activities, like corn-grinding with a mortar and pestle, which is the biggest attraction for school-aged visitors. The pre-historic Whittlesey Reeve Village Site of Lake County - dating from 900 to 1650 is one of the first exhibits visitors will discover upon walking into the museum.

"The kids enjoyed the entire museum, but they really loved the hands-on activities," says Kirtland Elementary teacher, Matt Ridgeway, whose fifth-grade class visited on a recent field trip.

Fascination is what lures many to become collectors. And Ohio has one of the largest number of amateur archaeologists and collectors in the Midwest. One of them is Allen D. Smith, who has donated many Native American items.

"My real focus is the baskets," Smith says. "Each one is so unique. You can appreciate the differences, the weaves, and various colors. It's amazing when you think about the process involved; from collecting the grass, to weaving it and making it all uniform."

Not everyone, however, is willing to give up their special finds. "Not long ago, I had a five-year-old show me an absolute perfect spear point he'd found in his yard," Dewald says. "He was so very proud of it, there was no way he was going to hand it over to us!"

The museum is a nonprofit and run by a small group of volunteers.

Tours are a specialty at the museum where groups from as small as 10 to as large as 100 can come to learn and explore our country's Indian heritage. Dewald sees visitors throughout the week, from schools to scouts to seniors. In addition to artifacts, the museum has a resource library of close to 1,000 books and periodicals-all of which were donated or acquired by Dewald.

If You Go:

Indian Museum of Lake County
The corner of Center St. and River St. (Rt. 174) in Downtown Willoughby.
Technical Center, Building B, Door #3.

Hours: May through Aug.: Mon. - Fri., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat. and Sun. 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., closed holiday weekends.

The Indian Museum of Lake County’s web site can be found here.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

No comments: