34 Long St., Ashville Ohio 43103 ~ 740-983-9864
do Elvis, moon dust, a car that drives itself, and a dog that once voted all
have in common?
They are all threads in the intricate tapestry of Americana, and this particular tapestry lives in the Ashville Museum, in Ashville, Ohio.
New Roadside America, describing the Ashville Museum's displays as "really neato stuff,"
included Ashville in its list of top 25
museums. Indeed, the museum's neato stuff covers everything from small-town minutiae
to inventions, personalities, and history that profoundly shaped the course of the 20th
The nation’s oldest working traffic light, invented and installed in
downtown Ashville, is the museum’s biggest attraction.
“Its worth coming 100,000 miles just to see the traffic light,” claims Charlie Morrison, one of the museum curators. “It is the only one like it in the world.”
The traffic light—looking like a real-life prop from an episode of the Jetsons—was a device that was ahead of its time in both form and function; a slowly rotating hand sweeps across each bulb, letting people know how much time is left before the light changes. The light “hung here at the corner of Main and Long Streets for fifty years,” according to Jack Lemon, another museum curator. “We never had an accident.”
The light—designed by Ashville resident Teddy Boor—has won national fame, including exposure on Oprah and An American Moment With James Earl Jones.
The historic light was in full-time operation until as recently as 1982, when the Ohio Department of Transportation insisted that the Village of Ashville replace it with a standard light.
Still operational, the light now directs foot traffic inside the museum.
And there is plenty of foot traffic.
Since 1978, the Ashville Museum has presented a steady stream of visitors with an eclectic mix of displays which change from day to day; one day, that mix might contain say, a story about Elvis or Roy Rogers, or a nationally acclaimed invention by an Ashville native, right up alongside—in all seriousness—a dog who voted or a chicken who paid for his meals. The resulting blend is a cocktail of Americana that's just plain fun to drink in.
More Neato Stuff