Milepost 139.5 – Eastbound Between Exits 135 and 140
County: Lorain How it got its name
Located at the Middle Ridge and Vermilion Valley Service Plazas at Milepost 139.5, in Amherst Ohio. The Ohio Turnpike Community Rooms are conveniently located for your next group meeting or conference. The rooms are available for reservation any day of the week from 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
The rooms can accommodate 30 people classroom style and 45 people theater style. A variety of catering options are also available upon request. The rooms can be accessed from the Turnpike or by the local public roads. There is ample parking inside the plazas for Turnpike travelers and outside the plazas for those accessing the plazas via local roadways.
There is no rental fee to use a community room; However, a $50 refundable security deposit is required prior to reserving the room.
Persons interested in reserving a community room may – Click HERE to request a room reservation or by contacting the Service Plaza Operations Dept. at 440-234-2081.
Along the forest trails that traversed Ohio long before the way was cleared for the Ohio Turnpike, the Ottawa Indians came to the Vermilion Valley to obtain red clay from its soil for use in making war paint and ceremonial decorations. The Vermilion River was named by French explorers when they discovered the red earth along its banks. In the vicinity of the Vermilion Valley Service Plaza, the earth also bears this vermilion hue.
Paint from Vermilion Valley clay may well have given the Ottawas a fierce, warlike appearance in their relentless resistance to the white man’s encroachments in northern Ohio before they finally surrendered to General “Mad” Anthony Wayne in 1794. The most famous Ottawa leader, Chief Pontiac, is generally recognized as one of the wisest, shrewdest Indian chieftains of all time. A reminder of the Ottawas’ past glory survives in the name of Ottawa County, one of the thirteen counties through which the Ohio Turnpike passes.
On Lake Erie at the mouth of the Vermilion River, north of the turnpike, is the town of Vermilion, a fishing and resort center. Each year, with the first touch of spring, all manner of boats come out of hibernation, and the fields are webbed with great stretches of black nets drying and undergoing repairs. By the time the fishing boats have started on their seasonal activities, the tourist season begins. An annual regatta, held in August, attracts boating fans from other lake ports. Connecting with the river are the serpentine Vermilion lagoons, where cabin cruisers, small yachts and sailing vessels are docked. The Vermilion beaches lie at the eastern gateway to one of Ohio’s most popular shore resort sections.
Anyone interested in ships will enjoy a visit to Vermilion’s Wakefield Marine Museum. Among the interesting exhibits here is a rib from the “Niagara,” the ship in which Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry led an American fleet to victory over the British in the Battle of Lake Erie. There are also photographs, ships’ bells and various nautical mementos.
The Vermilion River is roughly the eastern boundary of “The Firelands,” once a part of Connecticut’s Western Reserve and comprising an area that now includes Erie and Huron Counties and a part of Ottawa County. After the Revolutionary War, grants of land in this section were given to certain Connecticut people, called “The Sufferers,” whose homes had been burned during the war – thus the name “Firelands.” New London, Greenwich and other towns in the Vermilion Valley were named for Connecticut towns, and the design and architecture of most of the older communities in this area follow the New England pattern.
In Fitchville, during the 1840s and 1850s, the taverns did a brisk business catering to teamsters stopping overnight on their way to the grain markets of Milan and Sandusky. In the late 1850s, Lincoln spent a night at the Mansion House, a rambling frame structure now used as a grange hall. In the Fitchville cemetery there is a tombstone that bears the following odd inscription:
“Mr. Curtis was accidentally
shot by a rifle in the hands
of Mr. (sic) Chester Mais his
Mother in law the 30th of
Nov. 1842 while they were in
company hunting deer.”
New London has an unusual industry – a plant which makes over 3,000 articles, including band uniforms, graduation caps and gowns, church vestments and other relalia that are shipped all over the world.
The source of the Vermilion River is the Savannah Lakes in Ashland County, a group of exceptionally beautiful lakes.