Little Cities Of Black Diamonds Day Celebrates 20 Years

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Shawnee’s National Register Historic District will come to life on Oct. 19 as Little Cities of Black Diamonds Day celebrates its 20th Anniversary. 

"20 Years as a Cultural District: Collecting and Sharing Our Nationally Significant Story" is this year’s theme, and will be celebrated with theater, exhibits, music, children’s activities and food. 

Activities will run from noon to 5 p.m., both indoors and on Main Street, with a 10 a.m. morning guided hike into the Wayne National Forest on the Buckeye Trail. 

The Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council formed in 1994 with purpose of understanding and sharing the history of the former Hocking Valley Coal Region located at the corners of Athens, Hocking, Morgan and Perry Counties in southeastern Ohio, where the Great Hocking Valley Coal Boom era (1870-1930) brought national attention to the series of upstart mining towns created after the Civil War.

Citizen and scholarly research since then has uncovered three stories of national significance from this era: the region’s pioneering role in the nation’s early labor movement; the breaking of color and ethnic barriers by African Americans and European immigrants who came to the area in search of work; and the etablishment of one of the federal government’s first-ever environmental clean-up projects, waged at the end of the boom era as Civilian Conservation Corps and WPA workers replanted the forest and fought underground mine fires here during the Great Depression, creating Ohio’s only national forest, the Wayne National Forest. 

The Council’s effort has resulted in the series of remnant mining towns in this area, reimaging themselves as the Little Cities of Black Diamonds cultural district by promoting their rich history, boom town architecture and national forest lands as assets for future development.

Sunday’s event will build on the events theme with the premiere of the Cantilever Theater at 2:30 p.m., where living history characters will share highlights of the region’s history from an overhanging porch on East Main Street. These second-story cantilevered porches are one of the signature architectural features of the region. 

The Second Wind Bluegrass Band will perform (12-1:30 p.m.), followed by the Word of Mouth Jazz Band (3:30-5 p.m.) at the Tecumseh Commons, where food and other exhibits will also be located. 

A guided walking tour of the historic district will begin at 12:30 p.m. Mr. Bubbles' Old Time Medicine Show for children will take place at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on West Main Street, along with other children’s activities provided by the Perry County District Library, Rural Action Environmental Education program and the Sunday Creek and Monday Creek watershed restoration groups. 

The Southern Perry County Quilt Show will take place in the Masonic Lodge from 12-4:30 p.m. with the announcement of the People’s Choice Awards for the show at 4:30 p.m. 

A ceremonial cutting of the 20th Anniversary birthday cake and the announcement of the annual Little Cities Spirit Awards are set for 1:30 p.m. at the Tecumseh Commons. Historic exhibits, artisan vendors and homemade soups, pies and sandwiches round at the afternoon’s offerings.  

Anyone wishing to join the morning Buckeye Trail Hike should gather at the Miner’s Statue on West Main Street at 10 a.m.

For more information visit, call 740-394-3011 or e-mail Shawnee is located at the intersection of State Routes 155 and 93 in southern Perry County.