OUS nature center looks to make history

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Skunk cabbage hikes and reptile exhibitions may be fun, but the Ohio University Southern Nature Center is looking to educate about the area’s historical people and places too … not just bugs and plants.

This year’s schedule is more robust than ever, thanks to a cash infusion that the center received after a performance about life on the Underground Railroad hit it big recently.

“We had Susan Taylor do a program called ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd,’ that was so successful that we ended up doing it two more times,” OUS professor Robert Culp said. “The people that were there just raved about it.”

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Inspired by the splash that “Follow the Drinking Gourd” had made, the Nature Center wrote a grant proposal to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio which netted them $3,000 to continue the work of combining entertainment with Civil War-era history.

The first event will be the Furnace Festival, June 23 and 24 at Lake Vesuvius.

The star of the show will be historical performer Richard Pawling. The Pennsylvania man impersonates an ironmaster, complete with period costume. The center will also offer historical exhibits and demonstrations.

Culp jokes that the understanding of the area’s historical importance is sub-par.

“In general, it could use improvement,” Culp said with a grin. “That why we want to focus on the historical significance of the area.”

Although history is more of the focus, the Center is remembering its roots … literally. They’ll be continuing with their Music in the Woods series, as well as a classes in rocket science, creek critters and others.

While creepy crawlies may not be to everyone’s taste, Culp says many of the events are at least for all ages, which could make them very attractive for families looking to spice up their summer.

More information on all the events is available by calling (740) 532-4600.