The History of the Museum

Located in historic Fort Loramie, Ohio, the wilderness trail museum stands along the banks of the Miami-Erie canal in western Ohio, part of Ohio’s historic west heritage tour. Fort Loramie is known historically as the site of Pierre Loramie’s Indian trading post (1769-1782), a military fort built by gen. Anthony Wayne in 1794, a thriving canal town of the mid-1880’s and possibly the site of the last battle of the American revolutionary war. The Greeneville treaty line of 1795 runs through the town, dividing Indian Territory from pioneer settlements. The Loramie summit, an important waterway portage point as the dividing line of the Ohio watershed, lies just north of the village.


The redbrick two-story museum was built in 1853 and was used for many years as a boardinghouse/hotel by travelers on the Miami-Erie canal who were taking farm products and other goods to and from Toledo and Cincinnati via canal boat. These travelers needed an overnight stopping place; at that time the present-day museum housed a bar room, kitchen and numerous bedrooms for travelers. The first canal boat passed through Fort Loramie in 1843 and the hotel location along its banks was ideal. The village of Fort Loramie (or Berlin, as it was then known) was originally a group of log cabins until the Miami-Erie canal was routed through the area and German immigrants began to arrive by the boatloads as they had cheap transportation (about $1.00 at that time) from Cincinnati. The village today is still the home of many of the early settlers’ descendants.


The town takes its name from an early French-Canadian Indian fur trader, Pierre Loramie, who had a trading post north of town from 1769 until it was destroyed by George Rogers Clark in 1782. General Anthony Wayne then built a fort in 1794 on the site and called it ‘Fort Loramie’. Wayne built a series of forts along a route from Cincinnati to Fort Wayne, in and the fort at Fort Loramie was a supply fort, storing munitions for the army. An historical marker stands at the site of the old fort along state route 66 a short distance north of the town.


The wilderness trail museum is owned and operated by the Fort Loramie historical association, whose volunteer members staff the museum as needed during the winter months. From June 1 to September 1, the museum is open from 1p.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday. The museum is also open to individuals or group tours at any time by appointment. Contact persons are Sheila Quinlin, (937) 295-4019 or Karen Anthony, (937) 295-2353.


Entry to the museum is through a typical late 1880’s bar room with leaded-glass windows in the back bar, antique cash register, Indian artifacts and gun displays as well as a working fireplace. The military room houses uniforms and memorabilia from the civil war, WWI and WWII, as well as various later conflicts and more Indian artifacts. A unique replica of the old fort at Fort Loramie is one of the highlights of the tour, as well as a lithograph of the prison at Andersonville during the civil war.


The millinery room is a favorite with women visitors as it is a replica of a 1900’s women’s shop with vintage clothing, hats, feathered hatpins, sewing supplies and related items. The music room is part of a new addition to the museum; it houses larger musical instruments and rotating displays, as well as being used as a meeting room for speakers, etc. The country store is a renovated frame building semi-attached to the main part which is a replica of a turn-of-the-century dry goods store in Fort Loramie and many items on display here came from that store. A display of old shoe-making equipment is a featured item as well as several weaving looms. Historical books and souvenirs can be purchased here.

On the second floor, visitors can view a replica schoolroom with original wainscoting, chalkboard and other items from the old Fort Loramie School. The school was razed in 2009 to make way for the new Elementary School. The Quinlin bedroom is the scene of a typical late 1880’s bedroom, with vintage furniture, quilts, washstands, etc. Also on the second floor is the dining room, with period furniture, silver, china and paintings, as well as the parlor with its quaint writing desk, working fireplace and vintage furniture.

Included in the tour is a barn which features equipment used on farms in the area a hundred years ago and items too large for the museum proper. An original log cabin in the grassy area of the old canal bed can also be viewed by visitors. This cabin was donated by a family from the Fort Loramie area.

The museum offers a variety of programs and events throughout the year, most notably the Colonial Christmas dinners held over a four-evening period in early December each year. Members and students dress in colonial costumes and welcome guests to an evening of elegant dining and fine entertainment typical of the period. Summer events have included displays of pioneer crafts, programs devoted to honoring the military services, German heritage music and displays, genealogical programs, speakers on historical-interest topics and many others. As these spring and summer events vary from year to year, current information can be obtained by calling Jim Rosengarten, (937) 295-2998.

Admission to the museum is free as is admission to most of the events and programs.