Between 1825, when the "village" of Akron was established, and the present, the Akron/Summit County area has given birth to world-changing industries, fam- ous personalities, exciting leisure activities and even essential edibles. Certainly not trivial matters, yet the following bits of trivia offer insight into the important role the area has played in shaping the world. Share them with tour participants. Maybe even create a quiz or game for fun.
ARTS AND LEISURE
- The Ohio & Erie Canal brought more than commerce to Akron. Early Akron-area residents were entertained by actors who blew into town on horse-drawn canal boats.
- Before his Gone With the Wind days, Clark Gable worked as a clerk at Firestone for a whopping $95 a week.
- During its heyday, Silver Lake Park, known as the "Coney Island of the West," was a 600-acre wonderland boasting bear pits, the state's first aquarium, as many as 25,000 visitors a day and the largest dance pavilion in the state.
- Akron-area residents invented items that have become necessities for astronauts, fishermen and those with something to hide:
- Pressurized space suit...Russell Colley, Cuyahoga Falls
- Artificial fish bait...Ernest Pflueger, Akron
- Revolving bookcase...Joseph Danner, Akron
- Charles Goodyear had the god of fire on his side when he invented vulcanization, but the god of good fortune must have abandoned him. He died penniless.
- Lewis Miller was surrounded by bright ideas. The inventor, educator, farm-machinery millionaire and father-in-law of Thomas Edison reaped the rewards of the examined life, co-founding the Chaut- auqua movement and designing a model Sunday school used in the nation.
- Cereal entrepreneur Ferdinand Schumacher (of Akron) supplied the solution to a quick breakfast for Union troops during the Civil War, earning him a fortune and the title of "Oatmeal King."
- Though the Colonel might be upset, Barberton actually has the most fried chicken restaurants per capita in the world.
- Puffed Rice, developed by an employee at Akron's Quaker Oats, made an explosive debut at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis when it was shot from cannons.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
- Before abolitionist John Brown took up arms at Harpers Ferry to free slaves, he was a sheep herder for Akron co-founder Simon Perkins.
- Five-time Akron Mayor Lucius Bierce was the self-appointed leader of Canada's Patriot Army during its unsuccessful freedom war with the British in the 1830s.
- The 1851 historic "Aint I A Woman?" speech was given by Sojourner Truth at the Second Women's Rights Convention in Akron.
- The Spirit of St. Louis tires were made by B.F. Goodrich.
- Hayes Alan Jenkins, 1956 Olympic Gold Medalist in figure skating, hails from Akron.
- Barberton claims University of Michigan football coaching great Bo Schembechler.
- Notre Dame football's Ara Parseghian once called Akron home.
- The Rubber Bowl, built as a Works Progress Administration project, was first used as the state convention site for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
- The world's first long-distance electric railway ran from Cuyahoga Falls to Public Square in Cleveland.
- The Goodyear Blimp may be a more familiar sight over football stadiums, but it was once the great hope in the sky for people like Goodyear Vice President Paul Litchfield. He wanted to create a worldwide network of airship routes.
- Stairway to heaven: the German engineers Goodyear brought to Akron after World War I to share their skills in lighter-than-air craftmaking were known as the 12 disciples of Zeppelin.
- There were so many Irish canal workers who settled in Akron, the town earned the nickname "Dublin" for awhile.