On October 5, 1905, years of invention and failure culminated into history as Wilbur Wright took to the sky in a craft that soared through the air for 24 miles. More than a century later, just a few miles from the field over which it first flew, the 1905 Wright Flyer III—now designated a National Historic Landmark—spreads its wings at Carillon Historical Park, inspiring visitors with its tale of innovation, persistence, and progress, and the aptly named "Wilbur Wright: A Life of Consequence" exhibit. Nearby, the park's Heritage Center features the year-round Carousel of Dayton Innovation, which contains 31 figures, a 38-foot hand-painted mural illustrating the turn of events in the Wright Brothers flying exhibits, and rides for $1.
As impressive as they are, the airplane and carousel are only a few of Carillon Historical Park’s myriad attractions. Named for the 151-foot-tall Deeds Carillon, whose 57 bells have been pealing since 1942, the campus spreads across 65 acres. Just south of downtown, 30 historical buildings, including the 28,000 sq.ft. Heritage Center of Dayton Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship, draw visitors into Dayton’s past and share in the park's devotion to history, heritage, and progress. Early settlement structures such as the Newcom Tavern—the oldest building still standing in Dayton—sit alongside other original buildings such as an 1815-era stone cottage. The park also includes replica buildings, such as the Deeds Barn and the Wright Cycle Shop, which recreate the birthplaces of the automobile self-starter and the airplane.
The park’s transportation theme continues with an 1835 B&O steam locomotive and an interactive 1/8 scale railroad available to ride on select days for an extra fee and whose train cars carry passengers more effectively than 1/8 scale feet would. Nearby, the first Chevy S-10 truck minted by GM’s Moraine Plant in 1988 mingles with a fleet of vintage and classic autos. After admiring their hulls, visitors can swing by Culp’s Café—named and modeled after the eatery where widow and mother of six Charlotte Gilbert Culp served pies in the '30s and '40s—and order burgers or soda-fountain creations off a '40s-style menu. Before leaving, guests can peruse Wright brothers paraphernalia and items from the park’s 1930s letterpress printing shop at the museum store or sign up for educational programming that teaches lost arts such as candle dipping and butter churning.
Permeated with casual elegance, The Wine Gallery festoons its eclectic menu with classic bistro fare in the form of flavorful salads, soups, sandwiches, and specialties. Let the nibbling commence with starters of chips, dips, spreads, breads, and more, such as the cheese plate, a tour de fromage sidekicked by gourmet crackers and olives ($9), or its smokehouse doppelgänger ($9). Like a whole-wheat aqueduct, the mushroom-spinach pizza siphons a steady stream of silver-dollar mushrooms, mozzarella, feta, and provolone ($8). Chew through an English hedge maze of panko-coated eggplant caprese salad, with mozzarella, tomato, and basil ($5 half, $9 full), then celebrate victory with the succulent, spice-rubbed prime-rib sandwich ($8) or Italian basil-chicken sandwich ($8).
The Gallery for Young People offers summer art camps, field trips, and classes for kids and teens, helping them create art using a variety of media. Kids aged 3–5 start out by working with charcoal, paint, pastels, and papier-mâché. As students get older, lessons become more challenging, encouraging them to craft mixed-media self portraits and study printmaking. The studio also hosts exhibitions of the children's work to showcase their unique accomplishments.
As autumn winds sweep over the pools of the Splash Moraine water park, the summer crowds flee from the coming of Slash Moraine—a terrifying yearly event that transforms the park's beaches into haunted swamps. Live actors garbed in gruesome attire prowl the abandoned grounds searching for groups to scare under the flashing strobe lights as macabre scenes of ghouls, ghosts, and foul play further play to humans' natural fear of pageantry.
Winning best haunted house in Active Dayton's 2011 Best of Dayton awards and lauded by the bloggers of Ohio Valley Haunts for a "very loud soundtrack [that] assaults the senses in accompaniment to the various atrocities," the designers of Dayton's Haunted Butcher House horrify guests with new macabre spectacles each year. Characters, such as clowns wielding meat cleavers and the undead springing forth from oversize jack-in-the-boxes, are just some of the haunts that have rattled visitors in years past on the unguided tour. To further heighten fear levels, the building itself becomes another character, confounding the living with moving floors, strobe lights, and mysterious voices that predict another year of slow economic growth.
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