I almost hate talking about McKinley Avenue because it’s kind of my hidden gem road to get around Columbus. I used to work right near downtown…and getting out of town, especially going north, was nearly impossible during rush hour. One day I did a little map reading and found McKinley Avenue. It got me from downtown to Dublin in under 25 minutes during evening rush. The same trip using the major roads would routinely take 45-60 minutes.
McKinley isn’t the most scenic road, but it does have two interesting historical sites. The first to talk about is Shrum Mound. There’s nothing terribly unusual about Shrum Mound. It’s a “standard” Adena culture burial mound, about 20 feet tall and 100 feet in diameter. It would be right at home at Mound City outside Chillicothe…except it is inside Columbus city limits. Originally there were probably more mounds, as this one sits a pretty healthy distance away from the banks of the Scioto River.
One of the unusual elements to Shrum is that there is a trail that you can actually climb to the top. As we’ve seen at Mound City, most people treat these as sacred sites, and the mounds should not be climbed, but that’s not the case here. From the top you can get a glorious look as a large cesspool of stagnant water – though the rest of the view is still pretty good. (I thank my travel partner Brian for taking this one for the team, he slipped and fell on the way down as it was drizzling). The top of the mound is leveled off, and the is a circle of rocks up there. Brian noticed a hole in the top of the mound, but didn’t explore it too closely, probably wise.
Until recently, Shrum Mound was covered with lots of large trees (probably one reason I didn’t notice it before). In an effort to try and keep the mound intact, the trees have all been removed.
Shrum Mound is a neat stop because it is so unexpected. With all the development around, how did this one mound survive being plowed under? It’s in a small park, across the street from a housing development built around an abandoned quarry. There’s just a small pull-off with room for a couple cars there. Maybe only a 10-15 minute stop, but if you’ve lived in Columbus for any amount of time, and have not yet visited Shrum Mound, it’s worth a stop.
The second stop on McKinley I didn’t even know about until I was driving home from the game store at about 11:30 PM. Every once in a while, I enjoy driving around downtown while it is quiet. It’s rarely quieter than 11:30 PM during a steady rain.As I’m driving down McKinley I get to the stop sign at the intersection with Sauder, when I see a brick wall and a gate ahead of me. I drive through a parking lot, and see Old Franklinton Cemetery. It went high up on my “must see” list.
Lucas Sullivant founded Franklinton in 1797. Unfortunately, because it’s largely below the water level of the nearby Scioto River, it was often the victim of flooding, and didn’t prosper as the rest of Columbus did east of the river. There are efforts today to renew Franklinton much like the city did with the Short North district about 10-15 years ago.
The Franklinton Cemetery was started in 1799. It sits right at a bend in the Scioto River. The first church in Franklin County was also built on this land. Some of the foundation still exists, and the general footprint has been found through radar scans of the area. The graveyard sat in disrepair for many years, and many of the graves are unmarked (and the identities of the people here likely lost forever). There has been an effort to renovate the cemetery with new headstones where possible.
There is also a row of markers for three Revolutionary War veterans, and one from the Civil War.
As for Lucas Sullivant himself, he was originally buried here, but was moved to the nearby Green Lawn Cemetery at some point. The main focal point of the cemetery, a tall obelisk, tells more about the cemetery, the church, and Sullivant.
This is not a terribly large cemetery, but there are some interesting things to see here. It’s fascinating to see just how many people passed away at alarmingly young ages. The pioneer life was not an easy one to be sure.
Thousands of people drive by this cemetery every day, I’m curious how many actually know it’s there, and how many have visited it. It’s kind of hidden behind the parking lot of a chemical company, and is obscured by trees. Very much worth searching out if you want to see the early history of Ohio’s Capital City.
Here come the obligatory links to the flickr albums, and Google Maps to both locations…
Shrum Mound Flickr Album: Shrum Mound
Old Franklinton Cemetery Flickr Album: Franklinton Cemetery
Thanks for reading!