Paul Johnsons Historic Collection Brought a Unique Museum to Southeast Ohio

Tourists traveling the Hocking Hills State Park might stop into what looks like a small shed looking to find a map. Inside, the tourists would be greeted with an extensive collection of pencil sharpeners originally collected by the late Paul A. Johnson. The museum includes historical sharpeners, military sharpeners, transportation sharpeners, game sharpeners and more. The collection began when Paul’s wife, Charlotte, bought him a pencil sharpener for Christmas one year. From there he continued collecting them in a shed outside their home.  

“He passed away in 2010 and his wife wanted to let us keep it here so that people can enjoy it,” says Hocking Hills Welcome Center Manager Rose Arthur.  

 This impressive collection of around 3,450 pencil sharpeners, the largest collection of pencil sharpeners in America has been featured in several magazines, including Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Pencil sharpener enthusiasts would be hard-pressed to find another museum with so many sharpeners; the closest one is in Paris, Rose says.  

Photo: Mallory Porvaznik

The museum moved in next to the welcome center in 2011 after the passing of Paul Johnson. Since the welcome center brings in millions of tourists and travelers per year, it was a perfect location for the museum and tribute to Johnson.  

“Five million visitors come to Hocking Hills every year and they come through our building to get the trails maps, and we always mention to people to take a look at the museum,” Rose says.  

The museum is organized into various categories: children’s, food, hearts, transportation, space, games, furniture/household, military, and several more. Visitors can see Johnson’s most prized possession, his very first pencil sharpener. 

“Paul Johnson kept everything categorized, yet we do not know where they are specifically from; if they had a similar shape, category, theme, or all of the metals, they would be put together,” Rose says.  

 All the pencil sharpeners in the museum are arranged the same way as how they were set up in Johnson’s home. 

“There were pictures taken, everything was removed from its original location, looking at the pictures and putting in the museum exactly how Paul Johnson originally had it,” Rose says. 

While adults are interested in the older sharpeners, some of the more popular pencil sharpeners that tourists gravitate to are either the Mickey Mouse or animal themed. Sometimes the younger generation needs a quick primer on the museum’s contents.  

“Kids come into the museum and ask what a pencil sharpener is,” Rose says.