The Ohio Origins of National Coming Out Day (October 11th)
Did you know one of the founders of National Coming Out Day (October 11th) is an Ohioan? Read her story and about the origins of NCOD!
I had done some light research before I visited Fort Meigs, but I was completely unprepared for its immense size. I knew the fort covered 10 acres; however my brain didn’t comprehend what that meant until I saw it in person. And once I learned that the original fort and its seven blockhouses were built over the course of three months--during the winter of 1813 and in appalling conditions--it was even more incredible. The current fort is a recreation but was built to the exact specifications of the original.
In addition to the fort, Fort Meigs also has a really wonderful museum and gift shop. The museum exhibits contain archaeological finds from the site and gives visitors a good feel for what life was like at the fort. The gift shop is beautifully curated and has everything from rifle ballpoint pens (which I purchased!) and t-shirts to books and craft kits.
Address: Fort Meigs is located at 29100 West River Road in Perrysburg.
How much time: As I mentioned above, Fort Meigs is HUGE. If you really want to explore the museum, the fort and all of the exhibits in the blockhouses, I would allow for about three hours. The daily tours at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. last approximately 45 minutes. We asked a lot of questions during our tour, so ours may have lasted a little longer.
My favorites: As usually happens when I visit one of our sites, I was struck by the passion and knowledge of the staff. Ashley, the executive director, is working on her master’s degree in public history. Her thesis is about how the weather in early 1813 affected the war efforts. John, the manager of historic programming and head of interpretation, is a War of 1812 reenactor in his spare time and is a natural storyteller. The front desk staff was knowledgeable and welcoming. Every staff member we encountered was clearly so proud of Fort Meigs and the work they do there. Be sure to take advantage of their knowledge and ask questions when you visit.
Truda's Tips: If you visit when both the fort and museum are open, I would highly recommend timing it so that you can go on one of the daily tours of the fort. While the exhibits in the fort are very well done and informative, the fort’s staff members really bring the site to life with their stories.
Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. There’s a lot of walking. I made the mistake of wearing cute shoes and regretted it around the time we had made it to the far end of the fort.
During the late fall and winter, the fort is closed to the public, but the museum remains open year round. For complete details about what is open and when, visit the Fort Meigs hours of operation web page here.
Kid Friendly? Definitely: Fort Meigs is very kid-friendly. The museum has a dedicated section where kids can try on costumes from the era, play with a giant War of 1812 version of the game Operation and other activities. The fort has lots of room to run around and will tire out even the most energetic kid (although they ask that visitors refrain from climbing on the defensive earthworks within the fort. Some of them are original). And the exhibits in the blockhouses have lots of things for younger visitors to explore, like the Wheel of Fate game, a huge diorama and recreations of soldiers’ living quarters.
There’s also a bathroom in one of the blockhouses, so you won’t have to walk all the way back to the museum if someone decides they suddenly need to use the restroom. I know this is something I would have appreciated when my kids were little.
Lunch: Every great road trip includes a fun meal! We made the five-minute drive to downtown Perrysburg and ate lunch at Swig. The Fort Meigs staff said it was a favorite and mentioned that Swig had the world’s best grilled cheese, so of course we had to check it out! It didn’t disappoint. I had the grilled cheese and I can confirm that it was top tier (I can’t say that it was the world’s best because that honor belongs to my grandmother). My coworkers enjoyed their meals and highly recommend the fresh lemonade.
After lunch, we strolled down lovely Louisiana Avenue to Hood Park for a beautiful view of the Maumee River. There are tons of fun little shops and restaurants in Perrysburg, so it’s definitely worth a stop if you’re visiting Fort Meigs. On the way back to the car, we hit The Bard’s Coffee to get caffeinated for the drive home. My iced latte was delicious and not too sweet. My coworker was very happy with his mocha.
If you prefer to bring your own lunch, there are picnic tables and charcoal grills (you’ll need to bring your own charcoal) located in front of the Fort Meigs museum in a shady grove of trees.
Want to make a day of it? Explore everything Perrysburg has to offer at Visit Perrysburg.
Ohio History Connection members enjoy free general admission to Fort Meigs, as well as our other 50+ sites. For more information about all the benefits of membership and to join today, visit ohiohistory.org/join!