County#039;s future must build from its past

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 26, 2005

To take advantage of the region's full potential, Lawrence County's future should have a strong connection to its past.

This region of southern Ohio is so rich in history and character that many people take that for granted. The community must work to find all the historical gems we have and polish them into tourism diamonds.

We have so much to offer but do not do a good enough job to promote our assets. The county must work together to "tourist-ize" the attractions

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Many in the community have taken the first step by highlighting things in the county that could be big attractions and big assets to the county. The Lawrence County Historical Society is a perfect example of volunteers who have taken the initiative with the museum and events such as the Historical Ghost Walk.

But these people need help. They cannot do it alone. Elected leaders, state officials and each and every member of the community must step up. The ball is rolling but there is so much more that can be done to capitalize on what is right.

Why doesn't the county have anything really promoting any of the Underground Railroad history? Look at what Cincinnati has done with the Freedom Center. Why couldn't we do something like that on a smaller scale? We hope the old Burlington Jail can become something similar.

Why don't we tout what is here better? The Lawrence County Historical Museum offers a unique window into the county's history. But not one sign directs people from the highway to the museum.

And look at the riverfront. We have a beautiful access to the Ohio River but don't take full advantage of it. Other than a few boat ramps that are not maintained as well as they should be, the county has done little to develop the area.

Parks, restaurants, businesses, walking trails. The possibilities are endless. Even what we do have is not maintained and promoted well enough.

Ironton has several beautiful murals but does little to promote them. Look at what Portsmouth has done with its murals and river district.

The deteriorating caboose that sits at Center Street Landing is yet another example of a missed opportunity. Southern Ohio's ties to the railroad are tremendous. Train enthusiasts travel hundreds of miles to visit attractions key to their hobby, yet the county has little "tourist ready" sites to offer.

The list goes on and on. Lawrence County has tremendous potential to be a quiet, rural tourist destination. But it will take each and every person to work together and think progressively.

Our future looks bright but we should not forget to shine the light on our spectacular past.