After building up one of the state’s most successful furniture companies, woodworker Erie Sauder paid tribute to northwest Ohio’s pioneers with an open-air museum dedicated to re-creating the idyllic charm of a 19th-century rural village. To make his dream an even more vivid reality, Sauder moved dozens of historical structures to the village, restoring them and filling them with traditional pottery and tinsmithing shops, general stores, and schools. Costumed actors guide visitors of all ages through the traditional chores and activities of the 1800s, such as singing hymns, shearing sheep, or rebooting the hard drive on the printing press. Exhibits place guests directly into the lives and experiences of the Great Black Swamp’s settlers, from the earliest native peoples to the hardworking farmers and master craftsfolk of the late 1800s.
As patrons send themselves back in time with the village’s sights and sounds, they treat their taste buds to handmade sweet rolls from the Doughbox bakery, or dine on feasts of roast beef and chicken amid the hand-hewn rafters of the Barn Restaurant. Overnight guests lodge at the spacious campground or the beautiful Heritage Inn, replete with exercise rooms, a gorgeous 25-foot tree, and WiFi access powered by a horse on a treadmill.