PUTNAM COUNTY — Putnam County residents traveled back in time Sunday during a historical driving tour organized by the Putnam County Historical Society.
“The idea for this began four years ago,” said Mildred Ruen, chairwoman of the tour committee. Ruen said it was suggested by Dr. Wes Klir, who said there were many historical sites in Putnam County, but many people don’t have the opportunity to visit them.
Klir was the owner and presenter of one of the five sites featured in the tour. He presented tours of the Fort Jennings Depot, a building he renovated.
“My goal is to share history with individuals,” Klir said.
He purchased the Fort Jennings Depot and relocated and renovated the building.
“I did not want to see the building completely lost,” he said.
Carol Wise, curator of the Putnam County Historical Museum, said the tour was important to show the diverse areas of history around the county.
“It’s important to keep our history alive,” she said. “Especially for our youth. We’re very happy with the number of young people who came out to today’s tour.”
The five sites on the tour included the Bridenbaugh one-room schoolhouse in Pandora, the Putnam County Courthouse in Ottawa, the Continental News Review in Continental, Fort Jennings Depot, and the Putnam County Historical Museum in Kalida.
Dale Bridenbaugh said he has always had an interest in history. As he read “The History of One-room School Houses in Putnam County” he became more interested in the building that had always been a part of his family.
“The author of the book indicated their desire to see someone restore a one-room schoolhouse. That’s when I became interested in restoring this schoolhouse,” he said.
Judge Randall Basinger took groups to the very top of the courthouse, including a stairway that led above the fourth floor.
“I’ve had ancestors in this area since the 1840s,” Basinger said. “I’ve also always been interested in local history.”
Basinger said that working in the courthouse sparked his interest in the history of the county building.
Nyle Stateler said he is always happy to share his knowledge of the history of printing. Inside the Continental News Review he demonstrated numerous printers and folders still often used for printing flyers and posters.
“I am almost certain we will do this again next year,” Ruen said. “We have been very pleased with the turnout and it has been people of all ages.”
Ruen said the group is considering offering a tour of historical churches in the county next.
Klir said he has plans to add more to his depot site.
“Next year, I hope the caboose is done, and to have the hand-car operating.”
He also said he hopes to offer rides on a one-third-scale locomotive.