Friday, March 28, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 4-13-03
By Jeff Gill

Happy Thomas Jefferson’s birthday today; Virginia used to celebrate it, but probably doesn’t anymore (federal holidays and contracts and such).
You could celebrate by having peas with dinner, those being his favorite food, or just read his best known work. . .it’s quite short, with the title "The Declaration of Independence." Good reading for these times.
Tom never personally walked through the Hebron Crossroads, but just north of them, exactly one year to the day before he and John Adams both died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration, an event took place which literally made this crossing.
July 4, 1825, a party of dignitaries joined in breaking ground at what was thought to be the "highest" spot surveyed on the Ohio and Erie Canal. A marker stands just into Heath on the east side of Route 79, with half a lock (better than none?) making the stone wall that overlooks the road.
Shortly after the canal was begun, a project dreamed of by George Washington and politically championed by Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, was surveyed through Ohio with much less fanfare: The National Road, now marked as it should be as the "Historic National Road."
Jefferson and many of the founders knew that a connection between the Chesapeake watershed and the Ohio River valley would be vital for the new nation’s economy. In fact, Washington harbored a hope that a canal could be cut to connect the two, which lay the foundations for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
It didn’t go that far, since technology of the time couldn’t set the locks and holding ponds up on steep hillsides. The irony was that this beginning of a canal became the route for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the ol’ B&O, which crossed to Wheeling in the 1850’s and then shot across the hills and plains of Ohio, killing the recently completed canal.
Our stretch of the canal, in turn, became the bones of Ohio Route 79. That skeleton has been visible for years snaking from side to side of the road, but much of it is passing from few after a brief exposure under the saws and graders of ODOT.
You can see the canal itself along Canal Road south of Hebron, and you can easily trace the line through Canal Park, among the Ours Garage buildings, between the angled buildings south of Main, and then across the National Road just west of the Hebron Mill.
That’s Basin Street, and a turning basin and lock stood there where the Fire Department and American Legion hall stand. Northerly, you can look back south from the drive-up window at McDonalds and see the double line of trees marking the "prism", which is the architectural term for the space in the earth where the canal was.
Now get on 79 (if you dare, but you’ll have plenty of time to rubberneck). West of the road the canal is still water-filled past THK, and then the channel leaps east of the road, where it also will begin to disappear over the next few weeks.
I’ll be curious to hear if any of the old aqueducts across Beaver Run or creeks north of there are re-found, and a Hopewell period mound, much eroded in a field north of Geiger Pond may reveal some subsurface structure as the new lanes are cut and built up.
Two other turning basins can be seen west of the road, but most of one and part of the other are marked for destruction; by Jimmy’s Truck and Van and on north just opposite Batteries Unlimited. As you come up to the light for Kaiser, the prism is clear and obvious on the east, but may already be gone by the time you read this.
Right past the Ohio Canal monument in Heath, a spur launched off to the west which was the Granville feeder, wandering behind Heath Church of Christ and now invisible until you come upon it between Cherry Valley Road and the former Showman farm. The aqueduct, allowing the canal to cross Raccoon Creek, is incorporated into the old "Showman Bridge" underneath the modern roadbed.
But the main line of the canal runs beneath modern 79 all the way to the Union St. exit, where the prism itself is long gone, but the path is still visible in the oddly angled fronts of the warehouses east of you.
Cutting sharply to the east at Famous Supply, the route can still be traced at intervals through the neighborhoods south of Main in Newark, and most clearly along. . .Canal St., which sounds like where we began in Hebron.
If you don’t or can’t take alternate routes to 79 during the horrendous days of construction ahead, at least you or your passengers can play a little "spot the canal" along the way. . .while you still can.

Next week: Easter services around the area and Easter Egg Hunts are everywhere for Saturday the 19th. Our local Lakewood Area Churches Sunrise Service is at Dawes Arboretum by the Picnic Shelter at 6:30 am on the 20th. Bob Beyer of Jacksontown United Methodist is leading the singing, Wes Baker of Hebron Methodist is offering prayers, and my wife’s husband is representing Hebron Christian with the daybreak message. Hope to see you there as the sun rises on Easter Day!

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a local historian and archaeologist; from excavating old canal locks in the past, he knows that they smell pretty interesting 175 years later after the mule-drawn boats dumped their chamber pots out while waiting for the lock to fill! If you have aromatic insights into history or current local events, call 928-4066 or e-mail

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Hebron Crossroads 4-6-03
By Jeff Gill

Green is considered the official color of Spring ™, which is probably the idea of the lawn care companies. For me, the splashes and cascades of yellow mark the start of the season: forsythia in bloom (so is it two or three snows yet?), willow wands bright against the grey of most tree bark soon to be hidden, and the best exemplar of yellow in springtime. . .Peeps.
That’s right, the yellow hue not found in nature, but proclaiming nature’s glory; a solid mouthful of sugar temporarily masquerading as a baby chick. They probably have the "other" seal of approval from the dental associations.
Stale is my preference, so they have a bit more body to them. Perhaps I should say "well aged" as a connoisseur of the seasonal sugar bombs. Do you have serving suggestions for Peeps at Eastertide? Send ‘em in to or call 928-4066, where some of you got your voter registrations.
Speaking of the Lakewood levy campaign (you didn’t think I’d not get around to that, did you?), therre’s the yellow of a square pat of butter atop a stack o’ flapjacks. The levy committee is having a Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, April 12, from 8 to 11 am in the Creative Catering facility on W. Main St.
$5 for all you can eat, with kids under 12 $3, and these funds defray the cost of the election to fund our schools on May 6, as well as giving the community a chance to turn out and get motivated. Nothing motivates quite like maple syrup and good fellowship, so come and eat, since there’s no easier way to help the cause of our Lakewood School District.
Don’t forget this is time change weekend; you know, "spring *forward*, fall back," so prepare to lose an hour of sleep this weekend. I remember that rhyme, but not the difference between Daylight Savings and Standard. Which are we leaving and which are we entering? No one ever had to care until we needed to answer that question while setting up our computer or VCR.
All I know for sure is that Indiana, my home state, disliked FDR so much (who started it, although England had it long before) that they wouldn’t adopt it, and still haven’t. . .which is a long time to hold a grudge, even in politics. They say it was the dairy farmers, but if that were true, Wisconsin would be the state out of step.
While you’re adjusting your clocks, let’s adjust something else. If you didn’t know already (unlikely), Route 79 north to Heath, Newark, and Nellie is, shall we say, "having some work done," which is like Joan Rivers saying. . .well, same point.
The tie-ups have already been monumental, and ODOT has helpfully said in print the moral equivalent of "you’re on your own: good luck!"
So, while this "alternate routes" business is obvious to some, there are many new folks to the area (or even those who just don’t get off main roads much) who need a reminder.
Beginning to the west and going east: you can go north on Rt. 37, on Canyon Road, and on the already crowded Thornwood Drive. All will get you to Cherry Valley Road, W. Main beyond the hospital, or up to Rt. 16 to go back over to Newark.
Lake Drive and Licking Trails get you north between 79 and Rt. 13, which will itself be narrowed or closed for work this summer (at the same time as 79? Does that sound odd to you? Yep.), but you may be able to use them to get around particular tie-ups through the next few months and (sigh) years.
Rt. 13 takes you right into downtown Newark, or you can cut west at Hopewell which is, blessedly, completed. Thee you have the Linnville Road option, which gets you around to the intersection of 13 and Hopewell from the east.
When I have to start going down to Brownsville to head north past Flint Ridge or take Brushy Fork Road to get to 16, we’ll know its getting bad.
Seriously, stepping west to Luray and going up 37 is a smart move for almost anywhere you’re going north of Rockwell, especially after dark or in bad weather. We all need to think and drive alternate routes, because this work is going to be big, long-lasting, and utterly unpredictable.
If you have word about any church’s Easter Sunrise services or special children’s events on Saturday, please let me know THIS WEEK! Thank you.
And aren’t you at least thankful that we got our Kroger before this project began? Take the good news where you can find it.
More on the area we’re all going to be stopped in the middle of in this column next week, unless you take those alternate routes to the Hebron Crossroads.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and an egg roller from way back; if you have an Easter Egg Hunt to publicize or other news of local interest, call 928-4066 or e-mail

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 3-30-03
By Jeff Gill

First, a bit of Lakewood levy news you can use. . .and eat!
Saturday, April 12 (that’s six days after the deadline for registering to vote in the May 6 election, by the way), the fundraising committee of the Lakewood levy campaign will hold a pancake breakfast. Details later, but mark the date. You like pancakes, don’t you? Mmmm, pancakes.

Back to news of the war in Iraq; yes, even the Crossroads is taken up in the vortex of round the clock coverage. This writer is embedded with my living room sofa, heading towards Baghdad in a virtual reality of green night vision pictures.
The reports are compelling in ways that are good and bad. Good in the way any reporter would want us to be invested in the development of an unfolding tale. Bad in that we start getting hooked on the story arc, the pattern and rhythm of narrative that "The Three Bears" and "60 Minutes" have gotten us used to.
But military small unit operations in real time follow a logic all their own, and this is a drumbeat that is long, slow, and droningly repetitive, except when it’s frantic and irregular. So the "embeds" and the distant anchors try to impose a pattern on the story that fits what we’re used to hearing, with beginnings, middles, and well-resolved ends.
The daily "crisis" of dust in the mechanism or supply shortages. . .how do you punctuate the deadly reality of a column on the move? Our usual conversational semi-colons and and exclamation points of everyday life have few parallels in everyday life to a military day, and for that we should be truly thankful.

We also can all be thankful for the amazing precision of the air campaign, which has minimized the effects of that necessary but also two-faced term "collateral damage." I do think that, whether you support the administration’s approach to Iraq or not, we can all be glad that civilian impacts, let alone casualties, are being kept to a marginal amount. (Let’s not get into a debate here about what the accounts prove of the Iraqi leadership placing weapon systems by mosques and hospitals, or Republican Guards herding women and children into the streets during air assaults).
Did you know that one of the main "sources" of precision for American weapon systems is right up the road at the Boeing plant? The now privatized former Newark Air Force Base is still a secure facility where guidance systems are calibrated and maintained. I’ve had many conversations over the years with Hebron and area folks, hedged about with "well, that I can’t talk about" pauses, of cruise missiles, Patriot defensive systems, and GPS guidance of missiles over unfamiliar terrain.
And many know that the M1A1 Abrams tank is made and overhauled (in turn) up in Lima, Ohio. When you see Ted Koppel or David Blume jouncing over the desert in their reports, they’re often sitting atop a bit of Ohio in Iraq.

But if all this martial talk gets you down, remember also that most of our local men and women called up to our latest "over there" are going to provide humanitarian relief.
You know, the impulse to list names and such is strong, but many who are already off and away said over their shoulders "let’s not advertise too heavily that I’m not in the house anymore, OK?" That concern seems legitimate, so we’ll discreetly and carefully refer, mainly when they return home, to names and towns and such.
What I did want to say about the circle of folks I know over there is that, for the one guy who is flying A-10 Warthogs, I know four more who are almost entirely set-up in their unit for organizing the logistics of food, water, and medical relief to Iraq.
Nobody, at least that I’ve heard yet on TV, asked to be embedded with a support and logistics unit, but that’s who a large percentage of our local reserve and guard call up are. They train and prepare and are willingly leaving home to feed, shelter, and care for a people whose leaders stopped doing almost any of those things years, even decades ago.
I am truly thankful for anyone ready to leave hearth and home to do that for people they don’t know, and may barely get a chance to meet even as they serve them.
We’ll be looking forward to hearing those stories of precision guided MRE’s and targeted water purification assaults when those folks get back to the Hebron Crossroads.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a local historian and archaeologist; if you have local news of interest (but note that he’s being careful not to mention names of those called up and sent overseas unless their own family is OK with that), call 928-4066 or e-mail