The Rust Belt Holds Up Ohio

The Lincoln Highway is one of the nation’s first cross-country highways. It still starts and ends on the east and west coasts of the nation. In Ohio, the Lincoln Highway is the main strap of the Rust Belt, and driving across it lets road-trippers know how the loss of manufacturing has created the moniker Rust Belt.

…and see the debris of The Rust Belt.

Mansfield, Ohio’s Carousel Park. But head down the Lincoln Highway a bit…

The names of the town echo the past of the settlers of Ohio—Findlay, Massillon, Canton, Lima, Mansfield—and most of these towns have quaint yet quiet downtowns where the business of civic life keeps them busy. Some towns, like Mansfield, have reminders of the past on the Lincoln Highway that have been maintained and/or preserved by locals. But keep traveling east and you’ll see the debris of factories, crumbling buildings and decaying homes that belie the truth of what’s going on in our country.

The Lincoln Theater in Massillon, Ohio, thriving and clean thanks to the citizens of Massillon.

There are always plenty of bright spots along every road that used to be a major thoroughfare using the Main streets of small towns, but most of them have been relinquished to back-road status by the Interstate. The creation of the Interstate System was the first blow to Main Streets, and the creation of corporations was the the final blow—a one-two K.O. that should echo like sonar every time you hear Mitt Romney say he’s going to “create jobs.” Gene the retail clerk doesn’t matter for shit as long as corporations like AT&T can buy elections.

Mickey D’s got nothin’ on Kewpee Burgers.

The only reason places like Kewpee Burgers in Lima, Ohio, have survived is because of the memories associated with the locally own dining joint. Corporate chains on a local scale are one thing—they’re locally owned and contribute to the local community—but on a national level you’re dealing with Henry Ford’s assembly line mentality; a chemically preserved consistency that gives the false sense of familiarity to the traveler because, Hey, you can have the same burger anywhere you go.

I’ve got to get off the Lincoln Highway. There’s too much loss and struggling going on. Indianapolis is calling me.

8 thoughts on “The Rust Belt Holds Up Ohio

  1. You’ve reminded me of the few times I’ve gotten off of the interstates to take “business route” __ , usually when there is road construction that forces me off the main highway. I’m a driver who is almost always in a rush to get to my destinations, but I am often charmed by the ambiance of small towns.

  2. Very Nice! Seems like your really enjoying your road trip ! I really like the picture of the theater … are shows still broadcasted there ?

  3. I like seeing the pictures of how these places are kept up as how they looked in their day and comparing it to the buildings that are demolished.

  4. That looks so different from our spots here!! It’s amazing , like when I went to Saudi Arabia it was so clean and they had the weirdest names for restaurants … Or they had old restaurants that we used to have like (Hardee’s) ..

  5. That Kewpee Burger place is awesome! Have you ever eaten there before and how was it? Kewpee is very well known in Japan and many people actually have keychains of the doll. There is also a mayonnaise named after it! Now I’m tempted to research the history of Kewpee and why it’s so popular.

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