The History of the Museum
Located in historic Fort Loramie, Ohio, the Wilderness Trail Museum stands along the banks of what once was the Miami-Erie Canal that ran through the center of town. Fort Loramie is known historically as the site of the Indian trading post established by Pierre-Louis de Lorimier (Peter Loramie) 1769-1782, a military fort built by General Anthony Wayne in 1795, a thriving canal town of the mid-1800s, and possibly the site of the last battle of the American Revolutionary War. The Greenville Treaty Line of 1795 that divided Indian Territory from pioneer settlements runs through the town. The Loramie Summit, an important waterway portage point as the dividing line of the Ohio watershed, lies just north of the village.
The red brick two-story building that houses the museum was built in 1853 and was used for many years as a boarding house/hotel by travelers on the Miami-Erie Canal. These travelers needed an overnight stopping place, and the hotel location along the canal was ideal. 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. The village of Fort Loramie (or Berlin, as it was then known) was a cluster of log cabins until the Miami-Erie canal was routed through the area. German immigrants began to arrive, enticed by canal-building jobs and cheap farmland. The village today is still the home of many of the early settlers’ descendants.
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 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday. The museum is also open to individuals or group tours at any time by appointment. Contact: Jim Rosengarten, (937) 295-3998.
Entry to the museum is through a typical late 1880s bar room with leaded-glass windows behind the bar, an antique cash register and gun displays, as well as a working fireplace. The military room houses uniforms and memorabilia from the Civil War, World War I and World War II, and various later conflicts, as well as Indian artifacts. A 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 replica of a 1900s women’s shop with vintage clothing, hats, feathered hatpins, sewing supplies, and related items. The music room houses larger musical instruments and rotating displays and is used as a meeting room for presentations and speakers. The country store is a renovated semi-attached frame building, which is a replica of a turn-of-the-century dry goods store in Fort Loramie; many items on display there came from that store. Historical books can be purchased in the store. A genealogy research area with a computer that provides ProQuest Ancestry access and a printer are available to researchers.
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 1880s bedroom, with vintage furniture, quilts, washstands, etc. The church room contains many religious articles and original items from St. Michael Church. Also on the second floor is the hotel dining room, with period furniture, silver, china and paintings, as well as the parlor with its quaint writing desk, working fireplace and vintage furniture. The entire museum is decorated at Christmas time for the Colonial dinners that are held in December each year and for Breakfast with Santa, which is also held in December.
The barn behind the museum proper features equipment used on farms in the area a hundred years ago and items too large for the museum proper.
Admission to the museum is free as is admission to most of the events and programs.