Month: April 2016

Appalachian Wine Trail offers adventure, prizes for wine enthusiasts

Appalachian Wine Trail offers adventure, prizes for wine enthusiasts

The 11-stop wine trail brings guests and business to region’s wineries and vineyards. Lovers of the great outdoors (and fruit of the vine) visit independent wineries across southeast Ohio to sample local libations, enjoy live music and in a spirited twist — check off their trail […]

Honoring Our Region’s Underground Railroad Legacy

Honoring Our Region’s Underground Railroad Legacy

Henry Robert Burke is a published author, historian, volunteer, lecturer and newspaper columnist. Burke’s work is viewed as valuable slave research. He was nationally recognized as an Underground Railroad scholar until his death in 2012. “He was such a great person and a huge loss […]

Roseville Prison is now a private manor

Roseville Prison is now a private manor


Located off of state Route 93 is Roseville Prison. Across a rustic steel bridge, the 27-acres of land opened in 1927, and operated until 1966. However, it has been decaying for the past 50 years. The allure of the decaying facade often attracts visitors, despite the land being private property and heavily safeguarded by its owner.

As one of two satellite prisons in Ohio, prisoners from the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus who demonstrated good behavior were often transferred to Roseville. They produced all of the bricks and built their own prison. The inmates made 30,000 bricks daily, many of which bore the marker “convict made.” The medium-security work facility taught inmates to work ovens for other state building products and farming in order to produce their own food and sell goods to the community.

In 2007, the property was auctioned off to Linda Gebhart who bought the 27-acres for $89,500. Following her death, the property was left to her partner Robert Taggert. It is filled with history but has been left to perish and now stores a failed trucking business. The Taggert family has turned the once forced home of “criminals” into their own personal haven.

A popular historical site and haunted myth, the owners continue to have a major problem with people coming onto the property to just “look around.” Beyond a brick-paved driveway and garden wall lies the two original guard houses. Further, a number of trailers are occupied by owner Robert Taggert’s other members of the family and a collection of dogs and cats. “The slums baby, but it’s family, and it’s ours,” says daughter of Linda Gebhart and Robert Taggert,
Stacie Gebhart-Taggert.

There have been reports of “The Lady in White” at the location. According to legends, late at night the figure of a woman in a white dress can be seen jumping from the roof of the main building. Despite the myth, there is no record of jumps from the property’s roof, or even deaths, seemingly giving no fuel for paranormal activity. Nothing more seems to remain than a weed-choked yard and crumbling structures. The history and bricked beast of beauty is hidden in the confines of the private family compound.

Few people are allowed on the grounds. Tourists, ghostbusters, intruders and the general public are unwelcome unless pre-approved by the family. “Would you want me walking around on your lawn?” says Gebhart-Taggert. “This is our home…We do not want individuals coming onto our property, taking pictures without permission.”

The prison sits in a small village filled with potential, guarded by at least one 9mm. “He will shoot first and ask questions later,” says Gebhart-Taggert of her father.

Any other “investigators” are asked to refrain from coming onto the property, private property owners have the right to press charges and protect their land. “I understand that this used to be owned by the county, but that’s no longer the issue,” says Gebhart-Taggert, warning masses to just look online.

If you wish to explore the Roseville Prison, take a virtual tour via YouTube.

Maple Tapping Adventures in Fairfield County

Maple Tapping Adventures in Fairfield County

The Lancaster Maple Tapping Festival offers Fairfield County residents the chance to watch demonstrations of maple tapping and learn more about the history of maple syrup. After the syrup has been tapped, attendees enjoy a pancake breakfast and purchase goods from local vendors. “It’s based […]

Bellaire Businessman Hopes to Build His Community

Bellaire Businessman Hopes to Build His Community

Belmont County resident Dan Brown is many things: a recycler, an Adult Fan of Legos, a local businessman, a would-be councilperson and the self-proclaimed Donald Trump of the Village of Bellaire. As a businessman, Brown owns a recycling company and the popular Toy and Plastic […]

Southeast Ohio teacher reigns as Miss Ohio USA

Southeast Ohio teacher reigns as Miss Ohio USA

megan wiseGallipolis native Megan Wise knows the importance of perseverance. The pageant veteran and reigning Miss Ohio USA competed for nine years to get to where she is today. In her final year of eligibility, Wise took the crown and is now preparing to compete in the Miss USAcompetition later this year. Southeast Ohio sat down with Wise to discuss her big win and how she balances her job as a first grade teacher at Meigs Primary School with preparations for Miss USA.

A love of the stage

A lot of people think I started [competing] when I was really young. They see “Toddlers and Tiaras” and think I’ve been a pageant girl my whole life, but I actually started at 18. I just fell in love with the whole system and the stage presence and the showmanship of it all. I just kind of stuck with it and knew that this was something I ultimately wanted to do, and that was to go to Miss USA.

Crowning moment

[Winning] was pretty indescribable. It’s something that I’d worked really hard for, for the past nine years. I could always see myself winning the crown, but when you’re actually in that moment it’s just an overwhelming and indescribable feeling of gratitude and joy all crashing together.

The road to Miss USA

I’m just still trying to grasp that I’m actually going. I feel like I’ve been working out like an athlete and training mentally like a politician. I’m trying to stay up on current events, while balancing it with the physical aspects, because it is going to be in HD and I don’t want to come unprepared! Doing all that and trying to balance work, because I do still teach first grade at Meigs Primary, has kind of been a balancing act.

Committed to the classroom

A lot of people have asked me ‘Well, are you still working?’ and I say ‘Yes, I’m definitely still working. I have 25 first-graders that depend on me every day and I just can’t jump ship and abandon them in the middle of the school year.’ Some of the girls [in class] understood [my win] and were really excited about it when I showed them my crowning moment video. The boys didn’t really understand. Some of them thought it was my birthday and I heard one boy thought I’d won the Buckeye game.A love for Southeast OhioI love the area. I went to Gallia Academy, I went to University of Rio Grande, I teach at Meigs. If I didn’t have the community behind me, and my supporters from this core area where I live, I probably wouldn’t have the drive to have completed this goal. I feel like it’s not just for me, but a little bit has been for all of them because they’ve supported me all this way. I have a lot of pride to represent this Southeastern Ohio area, and to take it clear to Miss USA.

The importance of perseverance

My whole message through my win and my journey to Miss USA is just perseverance and not giving up on the dream. It took me years to actually get here. I think a lot of times people give up on things way too easily if it doesn’t happen for them right away. I just really want [young people] to persevere and keep going and keep working hard. Because if you put the work in, ultimately you’re going to be able to achieve it.

Muskingum County Business Incubator fosters high-tech startups in Zanesville

Muskingum County Business Incubator fosters high-tech startups in Zanesville

A small business incubator in Zanesville is reshaping the local economy with technology. The Muskingum County Business Incubator (MCBI) is housed in a former schoolhouse, a 55,000 square foot former elementary school building that five years ago served the nearby city of Zanesville. Since then, […]

Dresden scrapbooking retreat gives woman new purpose in life

Dresden scrapbooking retreat gives woman new purpose in life

Yvonne Hammond and her husband bought the Village Victorian Bedand Breakfast nearly three years ago to help make Yvonne’s dream come true. Sometimes starting a new chapter of one’s life seems akin to reading a mystery novel. What happens next? Will she find happiness? Yvonne […]

Pike County’s Dogwood Pass is More Than Just a Hobby For Owners

Pike County’s Dogwood Pass is More Than Just a Hobby For Owners

Mike “Frog” Montgomery and his wife, Sharlene, run Dogwood Pass, a replica of a Wild West town. The two have built the town from the ground up, growing their little hobby into a successful business.

While most couples share common interests of rooting for the same sports teams, playing tennis or attending concerts, Mike “Frog” and Sharlene Montgomery are a little different. They are the proprietors of Dogwood Pass, a replica of a Wild West town, located in Pike County.

Their interest in designing and constructing buildings of a working Old West town turned into so much more. Dogwood Pass has grown far beyond what Mike and Sharlene had ever imagined. “We never saw this as a business, it was just a hobby,” Sharlene says.

The History of Dogwood Pass


The story of how Dogwood Pass came to be begins 22 years ago, when the land that Dogwood Pass is built on was all woods. The couple cleared a little spot on the land to camp, and decided to get married there. At their wedding, all the guests were dressed-up in 1880s style clothing. Mike was dressed in his mountain man costume, while Sharlene was the Indian maiden, riding into the ceremony on horseback. “To be here 22 years later and to have that start is just so fulfilling and peaceful,” Sharlene says.

The land the couple was married on was a large family-owned farm, where Mike grew up riding horses and hunting. One day, Mike had the idea to build a saloon on the land that he could come back to after a long day and relax; his own version of a mancave.

Building the Boom Town


Six years ago, the couple decided to make Mike’s dream of building and fully decorating a saloon a reality. “We totally enjoyed the decorating of the saloon and imagining what it would look like,” Sharlene says. “[Mike] had envisioned how he thought it should look and it is truly amazing how everything turned about to be so authentic and historical looking.”

The building of the saloon kick-started a hobby for the two, a hobby that would eventually turn into an obsession. The saloon sat by itself for a year. “We would just look at it and would just keep saying, ‘It doesn’t look right by itself’,” Sharlene says. “So we started adding to it.”

Making History Come to Life

Dogwood Pass opened to the public for the first time in 2012, when Mike and Sharlene held their first annual Cystic Fibrosis benefit at their saloon. Their son-in-law, Brad Schneider, died from the illness. In honor of him, they decided to sponsor a local child from the community and send all the proceeds made to that child and family. “People would come in and were amazed at the décor and what a good job we did,” Sharlene says. “I think the enthusiasm helped push us along into building a jail and a livery. Then we thought that that wasn’t enough.”

Most of the town has been built in the last three years. The town consists of numerous buildings, including a:

  • cigar shop
  • freight office
  • jail
  • livery
  • mercantile
  • bank
  • gun shop
  • church
  • cat house
  • bath house

Mike, with the help of his family members, hammered every nail into each and every building himself. “I’m the builder; period. We have the help of my grandson, Cole, and my brother in law, Steve, now comes over and helps, but we built it entirely ourselves,” Mike says.

As for the designing and decorating, it is a team effort by the couple. All their time and work put into making sure the town best resembles an Old West town does not go unappreciated. “Every building that we have built and spent time with and imagined how we would have liked it to look is so appreciated,” Sharlene says. “It is so neat to hear people who live on the other side of the map come in and say this is so unique. Things like that don’t get old to us.” Many people who have come through Dogwood Pass have been amazed and have donated decorations to be displayed throughout the town.

A Taste of the Past

Dogwood Pass tries to offer something for everyone. “We get a lot of classroom field trips, company parties, birthday parties, and any of those types of events,” Mike says. Weddings really keep the couple busy, preparing and renting the property for about 10-15 weddings a year.

Each month, Dogwood Pass has a festival where 500 people will come through the town. One of DogWood Pass’ biggest events is its Halloween festival, turning the Wild West town into a haunted, zombie filled town, bringing in close to 1,000 people. Mike and Sharlene often bring in special guests to perform during their festivals, such as Old West circus performers and the Seventh Ohio Calvary Union. In the wintertime, when it is too cold for people to be outside watching the reenactment, they do Old West card games and events in the saloon. Mike also teaches concealed carry classes and hosts shooting events.

Most of the participants that take part in Dogwood Pass’ reenactments and festivals are family members and friends of Mike and Sharlene. The couple always welcomes others with open arms to come in and participate in the town’s events. “One of the neatest things about Dogwood Pass is that it draws people in and you meet the greatest people,” Sharlene says. “They’ll come out and help on the weekends and before you know it, these people are like family to you.”

People’s appreciation and admiration of the town drives Mike and Sharlene to push to build more. While the speed of building the town might slow down with age and finances, Mike and Sharlene are willing to do whatever they have to in order to keep the town alive and growing. “You just can’t stop and enjoy it. If you sit here and look at it, you always come up with things to add in your mind,” Mike says. “I’m waiting right now to add more things so it’s never going to stop growing. I can’t see it.”

A Family Affair

As for the future of Dogwood Pass, Mike and Sharlene hope to keep the business in the family, passing it down to their children and grandchildren. “I was born on this farm and my grandfather left it to my parents, who left it to me, so that’s how I want to leave it,” Mike says. The two have been preparing their family to run the business and have faith they will continue to keep up the town’s success. “I think our children, or some of our children, and grandchildren are ready to take it over. They understand as it grows, this is something they have to take care of someday as well.” Sharlene says. “We try to instill that into them. We don’t take it lightly.”

Mike and Sharlene believe that none of their success would have been possible without each other. “You can’t do it without both, without the two people,” Mike says. “If you don’t have the same interest, there is no way anything like this can happen.”

The Montgomery’s little hobby turned into an obsession, which turned into a business, and eventually, turned into their life. It’s their greatest passion, a passion that they can share with each other and their family, and they don’t ever see themselves giving it up. “I can see us in our 90s pointing to our grandson saying ‘Move this over here and let’s build this here’,” Sharlene says. “It’s our life and our hobby,” Mike says. “It’s what we do and what we will continue to do.”

The Counterfeit House

The Counterfeit House

Built in 1840 in Adams County for the purpose of counterfeiting 50 cent pieces and $500 bills, the Counterfeit House has stood for nearly 17 decades as a museum, tourist destination and now haunted, crumbling structure.  In the rolling hills and holler of Adams County, a dilapidated […]