September 25, 2016


“Success isn’t owned.  It’s leased, and rent is due every day.”       J.J. Watt

Carol writes:  For the pro football fan, the ultimate destination is the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  Al found a nice campground out in rural Holmes County, just a short drive from Canton.  What we didn’t realize before we got there was that Holmes County has the largest population of Amish anywhere in the country.  This part of Ohio certainly offers the chance to observe their technology-free way of life in which time stands still! 

With a population of approximately 36,000 Amish in a several-county area, while driving we had to be on constant lookout for the distinctive black horse-drawn buggies of the local Amish residents…and there were a lot of buggies on the road!

Amish-owned market stands were everywhere! 

Since we don’t have room in our RV for many souvenirs, most of our touristy purchases tend to be items we can eat.  No storage problem with that!  We took the opportunity to buy some yummy apple butter and apple strudel, and also stocked up on some of those incredible Amish home-grown fruits and veggies. 


The Pro Football Hall of Fame was quite entertaining!  One of the displays about the early days of football caught my eye.  It was about Byron “Whizzer” White, the only man ever to play professional football in addition to sitting as an associate justice on the Supreme Court!

Many of the other displays narrated stories of great players and events that we remembered well.  As diehard Denver Bronco fans, we were happy to see the Broncos well represented.  We were watching the game the night Payton Manning set the career record for passing touchdowns. 

One of our all-time favorite players was #84—tight end Shannon Sharpe—and there were the shoes he wore when he set some impressive records!

Colorful displays of immediately recognizable football jerseys caught the eye!

We spent lots of time with our heads bent over a large display case with a sample of every Super Bowl ring for the past 50 years.


For me, the most impressive room was the Pro Football Hall of Fame Gallery with its weirdly fascinating collection of bronze busts, grouped by year of induction of each player elected to the Hall of Fame.

Once again, by some strange coincidence, we just missed a Donald Trump sighting.  That very morning, accompanied by the current Hall of Fame president, Trump had been escorted through the Hall of Fame Gallery. Just a few hours later, we felt we were the luckier ones when we had the opportunity to have an extended conversation and a handshake with the docent who shook Payton Manning’s hand when he visited.

The Lombardi Trophy for the winner of next year’s Super Bowl was already on display.

Shoes, iconic jerseys, memorabilia, rings and bronze busts:  the Pro Football Hall of Fame was a fan’s delight!


Since we were not far from Cuyahoga Valley National Park, we could not pass up the opportunity for a visit.  The fact that this national park was spread out over many miles did not make for easy exploration, since much of the park was interspersed between private land and homes.
For our brief visit, we elected to ride our bikes on a portion of the paved Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail.  This trail was most representative of the reason for the park’s existence:  to preserve the history of the canal route through the Cuyahoga River valley.  Before the arrival of the railroad, this canal was a primary transportation artery between the Midwest and the East Coast and as such played a big part in the commercial development of the Midwest.

We enjoyed a great bike ride on the historic  towpath—over bridges, through tunnels, and beside now-dry historic locks along the trail.


Besides the Pro Football Hall of Fame, we had another destination that we wanted to see in the Canton area, and that was the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum. 

William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, was born in Niles, Ohio, but he called Canton home.  Alongside his wife, his final resting place was beneath the rotunda of a grandiose mausoleum atop a hill with 108 steps. 

Prior to the Presidency, William McKinley was also a Congressman from Ohio and Governor of Ohio.  He was a confident man and once said, “I have never been in doubt since I was old enough to think intelligently that I would someday be made president.” 

As President he led our nation to victory in the Spanish American War and was instrumental in acquiring Hawaii as a territory.  Prominent Canton residents were so bereft at his untimely death that they conceived such a grand burial site out of love for their beloved favorite son.

The McKinley Gallery section of the museum consisted of a large room with McKinley family artifacts from his early life in Canton as an attorney, in addition to memorabilia from the White House years.  Clever animated figures of the President and his wife, Ida Saxton McKinley, narrated explanations.

McKinley is pictured here with Theodore Roosevelt.  Assassinated by an anarchist in 1901 a year into his second term, he was succeeded by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.

Nellie and William McKinley had two children, both of whom died at a young age, leaving them with no immediate heirs.  Thus, the Stark County Historical Society has taken on the responsibility of preserving McKinley artifacts.

The city of Canton has beautifully preserved the family home of President McKinley’s wife, Ida Saxton McKinley.  The Saxton home was in downtown Canton just a block from the so-called First Ladies Library. 

Aside from some china, campaign buttons, and a handful of dresses belonging to former First Ladies, the actual First Ladies Library had little else and admittedly was still a work in progress.  However, this museum was the gateway for a visit to Ida Saxton McKinley’s family home just a few doors down.  As a married couple, the McKinleys lived in Saxton House for 13 years of their married life.

The Saxton House was a Victorian-era beauty from the outside. 

Using historic photographs as models, the inside has been restored to its past glory with great attention to detail. 

That was a very enjoyable week’s stay near Canton as fall was just starting to reveal its colors along the rural byways of northeastern Ohio.  We found a variety of outings to fascinate the football fan and the history buff.  Add to this mix some great Amish food, surrounded by the ambience of the Amish way of life, and I can understand why the campground was packed to the brim with weekend campers.

For these pro football fans and presidential history junkies, this was a near-perfect stop.

“Our differences are policies, our agreements principles.”  President William McKinley

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