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An I-77 travelogue, part 2

Southbound on I-77: Canton bridge
Southbound on I-77: Canton bridge
Photos by Rick Zimmerman

We now continue our southward foray along Interstate 77 through the eastern half of Ohio, heading for the oldest settled sections of the state, along the winding Ohio River.

Passing just overhead is the colorful span marking one's approximate entry into the City of Canton. Bearing sport figures in action, the red bridge signifies Canton as home to the National Football League's Hall of Fame. Not only was Ohio the seed-grounds of many of the teams that eventually comprised the leagues of national football, but the region sprouts a great many baseballers and softballers as well. Adopted home and locale of the junior law practice of William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, the city features both his burial site and his Presidential library and museum. The town gave rise to such diverse talent as Macy Gray, Marilyn Manson, Joe Vitale, Boz Scaggs and Jack Paar. But it takes us mere minutes to slice through this burg of just over 70,000 souls, to see the directional signs toward Marietta.

As we depart the southern tip of the city, we see Leppo Rents and Brechbuhler Scales just off the western flank of the right-of-way, and we near Faircrest Street (with its familiar 24-hour drive-thru for hot coffee and reasonably priced fuel). The former Gulliver's Travels I-77 truck stop has closed, but is being leveled to make way for an expanded Flying J facility at the same location. (Interesting historical note: Gulliver's also housed a chiropractor who served truckers' needs for qualifying physicals to keep driving, as well as a travel logistics service aiding long-haul operators.)

We now angle slightly southwesterly, as the community of Massillon falls behind us, while Navarre and Brewster drift past on the right, and the rural centers of Malvern and Magnolia and East Sparta and Malvern and Waynesburg slide by on the left. Soon we are heading directly into Bolivar, Ohio, and its Fort Laurens State Memorial, site of the only Revolutionary War fort ever erected in the Ohio territory. We spy Fort Laurens Antiques from the interstate.

Meanwhile one branch of the Tuscarawas River has been following on our left for a spell; we can clearly read the location of the Wilkshire Country Club, blazoned in bright white letters let into the sloping landscape of the fairways along a bend in the watercourse. Soon we skirt just past the edge of the small village of Strasburg. Settled predominately by German farmers, this community of just 2,600 leans today on manufacturing and metal-working.

The highway veers left as it meets another fork of the Tuscarawas River called Goettge Run; it will follow along our right flank for the next 5 or 6 miles, as we slide alongside the cities of Dover and New Philadelphia. Rearing up on our left is the massive plant of Dover Chemical Corp., a potential superfund polluter as identified by the EPA. We work our way through the traffic congestion at Dover, and then State Route 250 departs for New Philadelphia and Uhrichsville and Tappan Lake and Cadiz and Wheeling. We will drift slowly southwesterly once again.

And then we see it — the distinctive bright yellow roadside sign marking the upcoming exit to Yaggi's Cheese House. Situated on Stonecreek Road adjacent to the interstate, this venue for interesting cheeses, jams, mustards and spreads is a third-generation business founded in 1924 by descendants of Josef Jaeggi (originally of Solothurn, Switzerland).

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