Flyfisher's Letterboxes
Massies Creek Bridges
(Both Missing)


Massies Creek Bridges (2)
Difficulty: 1 (Drive-up)
Xenia, OH  Greene County
Placed 4 Dec 2001 by Flyfisher (geoflyfisher@yahoo.com)

Just a couple miles north of Xenia Ohio on Route 68 lies a small crossroads now called Old Town.  Here the story starts, for it was on these cornfields in the last half of the 18th century that the Shawnee Nation founded its capital.  Home of great orators who riveted the Indian nations against the encroaching white man, this now sleepy town was the center of civilized Native American activity in the Ohio Territory. 

Old Chillicothe (Old Town) had farms, cabins, politics, love affairs, sickness and military conflict.  The legendary warrior Tecumseh was born here in 1768. In 1778, a captured Simon Kenton was condemned to 9 gauntlet runs by the nation because of his actions against the Shawnee.  The first three gauntlet runs were run here that year when
Tecumseh was 10 years old.  The next year, Col John Bowman's Kentucky Troopers were defeated on these grounds by Chief Blackfish and forced to retreat to Ft. Washington (Cincinnati)

In 1797, a frontiersman and revolutionary war soldier, James Galloway moved his family just south at the site of present day Xenia. Relations with the large town of Chillicothe were reasonably peaceful.  A 29-year-old Tecumseh was taught to read by a Galloway
daughter named Rebecca and the two reportedly fell in love. 

Over the next 50 years, the Indian capital was abandoned, Tecumseh led a rising by the united Indian nations and was killed in battle many years after he and Rebecca left each others arms each unwilling to enter the other's world.  The township around Xenia grew
with the introduction of rail lines.  Farms sprang up in the valleys around Xenia, and roads were built to connect the farms and allow transport of the produce to Xenia for shipment. 

Wilberforce, just north of Xenia on US 42, came into prominence in the mid 19th century as the site of the first institution of higher education owned and operated by African Americans a joint enterprise of the Methodist Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal churches.  The school (later college and now university) was named after the 18th century English statesman and reformer, William Wilberforce in 1856.

A contemporary history put it thus: "It was in one of the darkest periods of the Nation's history, when the Cincinnati Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, moved by the inspiration of Christian philanthropy, appointed a committee of seven to consider and report a plan for the improvement of the intellectual and moral condition of the thirty thousand colored people of Ohio, and those of other free States, by furnishing them such facilities of education as had been generally beyond their reach. This period was that intervening the
passage of the Fugitive Slave Bill and the breaking out of the civil war. The demon of slavery had reached the zenith of its power, and was preparing for its deadly struggle with the genius of liberty." In the east is Wilberforce; at the west is Old Town.  Connecting
them, a creek flows from Wilberforce to Old Town.  Massies Creek meanders across this northern part of Greene County, and across it two 19th century covered bridges still carry traffic on the country lanes.  Visiting these two bridges in their wooded valleys is the
purpose of your quest today. 

If you begin in Xenia and go north on Route 68 you will be within a stone's throw of James Galloway's house still standing these many years later on Church Street.  Entering Old Town, you can stop at the roadside marker and read the story of Simon Kenton's gauntlet runs.  Look for Brush Row Road in Old Town.  It takes you east and up out of the valley that was old Chillicothe.  Across about a mile of cornfields you will come to a stop sign on Stephenson Road. 

Turn Left (north) on Stephenson and tap your brakes to make sure they are working well.  Just ahead the road begins a steep descent to the covered bridge.  A beautiful valley and setting is marred by an auto junk lot just across the bridge.  (I hope you have already learned that nothing is perfect.)  So stop on the near side of the bridge at a turn off on the left side of the road.  Take a few pictures and enjoy Massies Creek as it burbles under the bridge. 

Start with your compass at the red and white yield sign by the bridge.  At a heading of 240  and 10 paces away (1 pace = 2 steps or about 5 feet) is a small yellow square on a post.  From this post, at 160 and 15 paces, next to Massies Creek and at the base of a large tree, under a medium sized rock, is the first letterbox. 

After stamping up and getting back in the car, go across the bridge (whee!) and turn right onto Jones Road.  Follow this up the hill and around a number of bends, past the Stephenson Cemetery, and arriving at Wilberforce-Clifton Road. 

Turn left onto W-C road and within a quarter mile, turn right onto Charlton Mill Road.  A half-mile later, pull off the road (left is a little easier) just before the second covered bridge of your trip. It is worth a walk through this bridge that has mostly escaped the spray paint cans of vandals.  On the far side, a grassy area makes a good place for shooting a few snapshots of one of the landmarks built in the middle part of the 19th century.   I took a few pictures from the center of the creek with my waders in early December.  I saw no fish, just rocks, but it was still nice to wade the stream. 

Walking back toward your parking, from the mouth of NW end of the bridge, at 330 and 7 paces, looking right you will see a rock lying next to the rock wall.  Under that rock is the letterbox you seek. 

After stamping up, drive through this bridge as well (whee!) and follow Charlton Mill Road to it's termination on US 42.  A right turn will take you through Wilberforce, the home of both Wilberforce University and Central State University.  A few miles later you will have returned to Xenia. 

Spend a moment with a friend in the next week and tell them what you learned when you pondered the ancient conflicts between races represented in this triangle of Xenia Old Town Wilberforce.  Racism (and tolerance) here began with the Shawnee and the "white
men" Simon Kenton and later James Galloway.  Racism and tolerance also existed between black and white in the need for and founding of Wilberforce.  Perhaps in this new century, we can get by without inventing a new racism and continue to learn to work with each other
as people.  It's up to us.


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