Ashtabula, Ohio – The Hometown of Urban Meyer and so Much More.
With the Ohio State Buckeyes’ huge win over Alabama’s Crimson Tide last weekend, people all over the country got a sneak peek at my hometown, Ashtabula, Ohio. So much attention was paid to Ashtabula because this is the hometown of Urban Meyer, the head coach of the Buckeyes. Ashtabula residents are proud of Urban Meyer and the city even had signs erected at the entrances to Ashtabula City proudly announcing Meyer’s hometown heritage. However, Urban Meyer isn’t the only thing to be proud of in Ashtabula. In fact, several other residents have achieved fame and notorious events have taken place here.
Ashtabula, Ohio is located in Ashtabula County, the largest county in Ohio. By definition, Ashtabula means “always enough fish to share,” which explains the areas maritime history and 30 miles of lakeshore. In the early 19th century, Ashtabula was settled by Finnish, Swedish, and Italian immigrants. For generations, these three heritages denominated the population and many residents, including myself, have deep roots in these cultures today. At the 2010 census, there were 19,124 residents living in Ashtabula.
Famous Ashtabula, Ohio Residents
Ashtabula has been the hometown of many great athletes including Urban Meyer. Other Ashtabula residents that have gone on to find fame in sports include:
- Jim Bollman – Head coach of Michigan State University
- Jarrod Bunch – An NFL player that played for the Raiders and Giants
- Frederick “Babe” Parnell – An NFL player that played for the 1927 championship NY giants
- Mark Wagner – An MLB player that was active with the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, and Oakland As
In addition to coaches and athletes, Ashtabula has grown quite a few lovers of the arts as well. Actors, comedians, and authors with roots in Ashtabula, Ohio include:
- Don Novello – actor, comedian
- Tammy Cochran – country singer/songwriter
- T-Bone Slim – author, activist
- Freddie Smith – actor (currently stars on NBC’s Days of our Lives)
- Maila Numi – actress
Ashtabula, Ohio’s Famous Mentions
If you aren’t from Ashtabula, and aren’t a fan of college football, you may have heard of Ashtabula in a few other ways as well. In fact, my hometown has been mentioned in poems, songs, and books. In fact, Carl Sandburg, wrote a poem entitled, “Crossing Ohio When Poppies Bloom in Ashtabula,” Bob Dylan mentions Ashtabula in the song, “You’re Gonna Make me Lonesome When You Go,” and Vern Sneider wrote a book entitled, “The King from Ashtabula.”
Ashtabula’s Maritime History
I always say if I move from Ashtabula, I would desperately miss the lake (Lake Erie). Over the years, friends and family have moved away and one of the things they miss most about Ashtabula, besides Romanburgers from Mr. Hero, is the lake. Walnut Beach is located in the city of Ashtabula, and boasts beautiful scenery and gorgeous sand. Lake Shore Park is located a bit east of Walnut Beach in Ashtabula Township and offers everything that Walnut Beach offers and more. At Lake Shore Park, you can feed the ducks, watch the boats come in and out of the dock, and take in the beauty that is Lake Erie.
One of the best parts about living in Ashtabula is the city’s strong maritime history. The city is a coal port, has a Coast Guard station, and is home to the Ashtabula Maritime Museum. From 1953 to 1982 the Navy vessel USS Ashtabula (A0-51) roamed waters around the world and was the only vessel to bear this name.
Fun Facts About Ashtabula
If I haven’t got your attention yet, there is more you need to know about Ashtabula; including these fun facts.
- Steelhead Capital of Ohio
- Ashtabula averages 68” of snow every year (mostly lake effect)
- 19 museums and historical sites located here
- Several former stops on the Underground Railroad were located in Ashtabula, Ohio
- Home to America’s shortest and longest covered bridge
- 20 award-winning wineries in Ashtabula County
Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster
The Ashtabula River Railroad disaster happened on December 29, 1876, and is still remembered today. This train accident left 64 people injured and killed 92 people. Many people killed in the train disaster are buried at Chestnut Grove Cemetery, located on W.58th St in downtown Ashtabula. Twenty years after the train disaster, a memorial was erected in the cemetery to remember the unidentified victims of the train disaster. After the train disaster, Charles Collins, the bridge engineer, and Amasa Stone, the designer and architect of the bridge, both committed suicide. Both suicides were independent of each other and many believe the men took their lives because the train disaster was due to improper design. It’s no wonder that with such a sad, devastating event taking place in the boundaries of Ashtabula, that many people here and around the country believe Chestnut Grove Cemetery is haunted. The most common haunt that people report is seeing ghosts walking amongst tombstones in the graveyard and Mr. Collins leaning on the Train Disaster memorial crying.
Whether you only heard of Ashtabula, Ohio, because you are a huge fan of Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes, or you have lived here your whole life, now you have a little bit more information about this quaint, lakeshore town, and have a monumental amount of trivia to share the next time someone asks you about our northeast Ohio town.