Since its founding in 1998, the Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation, Inc. has been dedicated to preserving, and educating others about, the rich history of the railroad in Northwest Ohio. The center's sprawling gift shop and museum, which features two model-train layouts, explore the role of trains in American life in the past and the present. Outside, quarter-scale deisel and steam trains chug across a field crossed with railroad tracks with dozens of gleeful passengers in tow. As part of its celebration of all things railroad, Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation, Inc. also curates seasonal events, such as train rides brimming with holiday festivities.
Reservations/Appointments: Not offered
Staff Size: 11?25 people
Average Duration of Services: 30?60 minutes
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Go-karts
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
At Putt-Putt Fun Center, there's no shortage of fun activities?all of which are family-friendly. Mini golf gives groups the chance to hone their whacks on an 18-hole course, and the go-kart track offers cars designed for kids, grown-ups, or both parent and child. The batting cages are another way to take on some friendly competition, as participants practice their swings in hopes of sending a ball soaring across the cage or back into the tube it came out of to teach it a lesson. Those activities can also be rolled into a birthday party package, which may include access to a private party room and pizza.
At Hansen Performance Horses, riders of all ages and experience levels saddle up under the direction of Teresa Hansen, who has owned and shown horses for more than 25 years and has coached amateurs to top finishes at prestigious competitions. Hooves gallop across the Hansen family's training facility, which consists of a heated indoor arena, an outdoor arena, and a climate-controlled viewing room for onlookers and curious TVs considering new career paths. Aside from private, one-on-one lessons, aspiring gauchos can earn their spurs during an assortment of different lessons, including therapeutic sessions for autistic children, as well as instruction in Western pleasure, hunter under-saddle, and reining divisions.
Every time the Darke County Historical Society unearths a new finding, there’s a good chance that the public’s first look at it will come in the exhibition halls of Greenville’s Garst Museum. More than 300,000 American artifacts fill the museum's six wings, many of which were discovered—or rediscovered, as the case may be—over the course of the society's archeological digs, genealogical research, and historic preservation activities.
Among the century-spanning exhibits, the softer side of sharpshooter Annie Oakley unfolds in the Coppock Wing, and antique cannonballs and Humvees speak of the wartime exploits of General "Mad" Anthony Wayne. Down on the first floor, a painting of Chief Tarhe, Grand Sachem of the Wyandots, presides over a collection that focuses on America during the 1700s but leaves room for anachronistic elements such as mastodon bones. The newest exhibit, "Diversity in Darke County: The Story of Longtown," celebrates local history with its visual chronicle of a tri-racial settlement in Greenville.
Aside from the main two-story brick Colonial home—which was built as an inn in 1852, according to Touring Ohio—the society and the museum maintain several properties of historic note. A free, self-guided tour of Bear's Mill and its 800-foot water channel can be capped with a cup of gourmet coffee, and the Lowell Thomas house provides insights into the childhood of the broadcaster and adventurer who once famously dined with the Prince of Wales inside an actual whale.
It’s no surprise that as a mother of five, a Cub Scouts den leader, and a tutor to autistic children, Tender Touch Farm instructor Lisa Gilliam has a way with children. She’s been sharing her passion for riding with youngsters for more than a decade, encouraging them to grow and learn through equestrian experiences such as camps and lessons. Within one-hour lessons, she teaches kids how to maintain their balance and communicate with the horse without the use of words or Morse code messages nudged into their sides. After lessons, kids also get exposure to the nonriding components of horse care, such as grooming and anatomy.
Since 1949, the clatter of balls and pins has rung in the ears of bowlers at Shamrock Lanes. Today, 44 Brunswick synthetic lanes usher balls toward their targets in a sand-colored room punctuated by orange wall panels. Between frames, the full-service bar and grill refuels bowlers with burgers and pizza, or players can hone their hand-eye coordination in the arcade. Winning skee-ball earns ball hurlers prizes, and playing shooting games helps them improve their aim so they can go home and water the garden next door through the white picket fence.