A cold January day is the perfect time to take the family on an Ohio Road Trip to learn and experience some Buckeye State History.
For two dollars the entire family can visit Ohio’s most unique Civil War site, Johnson Island in Sandusky Bay. The two dollars is what it will cost to drive across a privately-owned causeway from the Marblehead Peninsula to the island located in the bay.
During the American Civil War a Prison was built on Johnson Island in 1862 to handle Confederate Prisoners-of-War. Originally the enclosure was meant to handle upwards of 3 thousand prisoners, but by wars end an estimated ten thousand had been imprisoned on the tiny Ohio Island, the majority of them Confederate officers, including at least a half-dozen southern General officers.
This was also the scene of a plot by southern spies to take over a naval gunboat guarding the island and free the prisoners to wage guerilla warfare through Ohio. The plot was discovered and the spies arrested just as they had captured a passenger boat near the island.
While the prison and, later, two forts, covered most of the three hundred acres that makes up the island today all that is left of the Civil War site is a tiny cemetery where 206 headstones mark where some of the Confederate soldiers who died while imprisoned were buried, however modern researchers using new technology say there are other graves outside the cemetery.
January is an excellent time to visit Johnson Island first because the summer-time tourists are gone and the cold weather is a good way to experience first-hand what southerners, unaccustomed to Ohio winters must have felt when Lake Erie froze over and winter winds whipped across the frozen water.
To reach Johnson Island take Bayshore Road in Marblehead to Gaydos Drive. Gaydos Drive goes to the automated toll-gate where you will need two one dollar bills or coins to activate the gate allowing you onto the causeway to reach the island. Much of the island is now privately owned and there are no public facilities. The cemetery is open to visitors year-round. Or you can visit their website, www.johnsonisland.orgFor maps and other directions.
A museum that tells the story of Johnson Island is located in another Ohio landmark, the Ohio Veterans Home located in nearby Sandusky…..
…..You can read the rest of this story in the December 26, 2009 edition of the Plain Dealer or on their website at WWW.Cleveland.Com