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Historical markers sit at sites where rest areas will be...

Published: Sun, Aug 8, 2004

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A monument marking the northern point of the Civil War is heading to its proper place.

By D.A. WILKINSON

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

The closing of two rest areas in Columbiana County should send one historical marker back to its original site, while the fate of a second historical marker remains unclear.

The Ohio Department of Transportation plans to close the two sites by the end of summer, according to Becky McCarty, an ODOT spokeswoman.

ODOT has been trying to close the areas since 1985, but complaints from county officials and history buffs kept them open.

The first is on state Route 518 west of West Point. The monument commemorates the northernmost point Confederate soldiers reached during the Civil War under the command of Gen. John Hunt Morgan.

The second is on state Route 7 south of Columbiana, where a monument commemorates one of the first superior-court meetings in Ohio.

Primitive areas

ODOT was given power under a 1998 law to close primitive rest areas, or those without flushing commodes. ODOT doesn't think it's financially wise to continue operating them.

McCarty said there's nothing at the Columbiana site except the marker, which may stay where it is or be moved to an undecided location. The site otherwise would be left alone if the area is closed, she added.

There are closed restrooms at West Point and a water pump. The building and parking lot would be ripped out and the ground would be seeded, she said.

Ownership of the land either would revert to the descendants of the owner who granted the original easement or the present land owners, McCarty said.

Atty. Timothy R. Brookes, president of the East Liverpool Historical Society, says he is working with ODOT to help move the Morgan monument back to its original location, which is where Morgan actually surrendered. ODOT had persuaded the society to move the marker to the rest area in 1958.

Original marker

Will Thompson, the first president of the society, had the monument made in 1902. A bronze plaque on the stone disappeared at some point and was replaced with an aluminum one.

The original site is a small plot owned by the society about a quarter mile east of the rest stop. The site included a wrought-iron fence.

"I found one of the corner posts stuck in the ground," Brookes said.

From there, he was able to find a depression in the ground that he believes was the monument's original resting spot.

The stone came from the Pike farm, which is now the site of the Columbiana County Fair grounds. Brookes estimates the monument weighs 2 to 3 tons. Terry Mellott, whose business is near the original site, has offered to help move it. That may occur in the next few weeks if schedules can be coordinated, Brookes said.

The monument near Columbiana consists of a boulder with a plaque erected in 1939 by the state highway department with the help of the Columbiana County Bar Association.

The plaque says that Ohio's superior court temporarily held one of its first sessions for Columbiana County in the house of Matthias Lower at the site June 14, 1803.

McCarty said the state historical society says the site has no significance and isn't on historical registers.

The Columbiana stone, Brookes estimated, is three times the size of Morgan's monument.

It can stay

Brookes said he has talked to an adjacent landowner who has no problem with the stone's staying where it is. Land for the area came from the landowner's farm.

ODOT will have a public meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Center Township Building in Lisbon to discuss its plans. People can also write ODOT's District 11 in care of Terry Hartman, facilities manager, 2201 Reiser Ave. S.E., New Philadelphia, 44663, by Aug. 31.

wilkinson@vindy.com

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