Yoctangee Park - Chillicothe Ohio

Chillicothe, Ohio is the first capital in Ohio, but it is also a place that has a very warm and welcoming atmosphere for travelers to enjoy. Now, the key thing is to know more about what you can do and we have already highlighted the top 5 attractions in Chillicothe and now we are planning on doing an in-depth review of Yoctangee Park.

Yoctangee Park Main Entrance

I know when I first heard the name, I questioned the name and even did a double take to see if I had it right. Well, I did and it is rather interesting as to the history of the name and how it came to be. So that will definitely add some interesting aspects to Yoctangee Park that you may have overlooked before.


History Of Yoctangee Park

Yoctangee Park at one point in its history pointed to the rail road history of Chillicothe as it was known at the “Old Bed” or even the “Island” from where an old railway bed ran through the middle of the park. Now, the park did not use to be as stately as it is now with the park once being attributed to malaria outbreaks from the marshy location and overgrowth.

Before it became overgrown it was part of the Ebenezer Zane Section of the now defunct Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad. Ebenezer Zane was a man who was a trail blazer going from Wheeling to Maysville under government contract, under the terms of the contract the payment for Zane would end up being a crossing at the navigable sections of the waterways that he would cross, one of which would be in Chillicothe between the Mill and Bridge Streets of the beautiful city. The nearby town of Zanesville actually would take its name from Zane as well and part of the National Pike is part of the original trail that Zane would blaze.

The park would not even be addressed until after the Civil War, which then the doctors in the area started speaking out about the annoyance of the “Old Bed”. It was at that time the people started demanding Chillicothe city council to acquire the land and drain it, but also clean up the land to remove the swampy mess.

Honorable John H. Putnam the legislator from the city ended up getting an act passed that would allow the city to place a tax to help pay for the purchase. This is still referenced in some cases for major purchases by some cities in Ohio.

Now, one interesting aspect that came hand in hand with cleaning up the region was the lowering of the unemployment levels which had been high in the post Civil War era, but also quite a large number of the unemployed individuals wanted to remove the eyesore to help grow the city.

Historical Buildings To Check Out In Yoctangee Park

One of the historical buildings in Yoctangee park is the Pump House Center For Arts, the building was the original water pumping building for Chillicothe. The building was built in 1882 and is a traditional red brick style, but it does have tours of the building and is a great budget attraction with low priced to free admission.

As mentioned The Pump House Center For The Arts is in the former pump house, but the building itself was originally owned by the Chillicothe Water and Sewer Company. The pump was the municipal water pumping station for Chillicothe, but instead of directly pumping to customers from the deep well, the water was moved to Carlisle Hill where the reservoir was located at the time. The Pump House would start its move to a historical building in March of 1977 when it was placed on the Ohio History Inventory. In 1979 the Pump House in Yoctangee Park would take another big step as it was placed on the National Registery of Historic Places kept by the U. S. Department of Interior. In 1984 The Pump House would have some major issues as the building was condemned as unsafe, even with the Jaycees group using the building previously for their Haunted House. The history of the Pump House in Yoctangee Park would bring together a group of artist, preservationists, but also a lawyer to get the building preserved. It would take only 2 years before the Chillicothe city council would move The Pump House into one of the Preservation Districts of the city. It was during that time that the city with the preservation groups would start to pour new floors, get electric and water in the building, but also rebuild the walls. It was also at this time that the rooms inside of The Pump House underwent a transformation into the art gallery you see now. If you are a fan of architecture, like I am, then you will enjoy the Victorian Gothic features with the large central tower,  but also the Palladian windows.

Historical Pump House At Yoctangee Park

In addition to The Pump House, Yoctangee Park is also home to the old National Guard armory. The building is not as old, but it still was built early on in the 20th century. As of now, the exact purpose of the armory is up in the air and the Chillicothe city council has not decided what to do with it. Quite a few ideas have been floated for the armory, including a fitting military museum, but with the uncertain economy and lack of private funding the plans have not been acted on yet.

If you are interested in the railroad and more importantly the history of the railway, then you may enjoy checking out the historic B&O caboose cars, but it is important to check the time they are open as they were closed when I was at Yoctangee Park. When the caboose’s are open, it is a great stop that has plenty of memorabilia on display in them. Typically the railroad museum is open during the summer months.

Activities For Families At Yoctangee Park

As this is a park the chances are you are going with your family. I know that is why I go to a park to spend time with my family. That means you need to make sure you know about what you can do with your family when you are at Yoctangee Park.

Yoctangee Park Review

A key focal point in the park is one of the most family friendly parts and that is the large 12 acre lake. The lake has a great path that wraps around it for you to walk along, but it is a paved path for the most part. Now, I did find that when you get towards the second entrance to Yoctangee Park it does have an area that can be hard to cross over if you want to stick close to the water, but you can go up to the sidewalk. Now, the downside is the lake in Yoctangee Park does not normally allow swimming or boating, but you can check about fishing as I did see some people fishing.

Surrounding the park and scattered around the park are plenty of picnic tables for you to enjoy and eat your lunch or dinner at. The picnic tables are located a little bit away from the path and it will make it easier for you to have a quiet meal. Now, if you are at one of the tables closer to the lake you can enjoy seeing the ducks, geese, and swans swimming on the water. As a side note it is very important to mind the swans and be careful when around them, especially with little kids.

When I was at Yoctangee Park the other features were limited in their opening due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the park does offer basketball courts, a pool, volleyball and tennis courts for the older kids and adults to enjoy. Now, the other thing that your kids can enjoy is a playground that is rather large and great for the kids to enjoy.

Events Held At Yoctangee Park

Just like any park Yoctangee Park does have events that are held at the location. Sadly, when I was at the park just like some of the other locations in the park the majority of the events were cancelled by the pandemic. However, the park routinely hosts soccer games as the Chillicothe Youth Soccer League and the local YMCA has soccer teams that make use of the annexed soccer fields in the park.

Some of the other events may end up being cancelled or held in the future depending on the pandemic. However, they are all great events and geared towards families of all sizes and ages. Some of the events even welcome in outside vendors which makes it easier for you to get find a unique gift from the Chillicothe area if you are traveling.

I have to say that Yoctangee Park is one place that I really do enjoy. The park has plenty for the kids to do as long as it is open, which for me the coronavirus played havoc with the plans I had. Now, I will tell you, though, if you are looking for an outdoor location that provides relaxation and some quiet from the street then you want to check out Yoctangee Park in Chillicothe.



By Charlie