In 2011, a Gallup poll gave Springfield, Ohio the ignominious title of America’s unhappiest city. Well, this town of 60,000 is where Mike’s family lives, and we’ve spent a lot of time here. We wouldn’t exactly spend 91 days here, but there are some great parks, beautiful houses, and a surprisingly handsome downtown, let alone our niece and nephew! For us, it’s a very happy place.
During our most recent visit, we took the family out to Hartman’s Historical Rock Garden — one of those quirky American attractions that pop up in the strangest places. Mike’s brother has lived in Springfield for years but had never even known about it. The art project dates from 1932, when Harry George Hartman lost his job during the Great Depression. The molder occupied his time with creating rock sculptures in his back yard, spanning all sorts of themes. Religion, historic buildings, recreations of famous battles and hundreds of thousands of stones.
Mr. Hartman died in 1944, but his wife Mary took over custodianship of the Rock Garden, welcoming visitors from around the world. When she died in 1997, the garden fell into decline, but was rescued and re-opened in 2010.
We had a great time in the garden, and the kids especially enjoyed it. I’m not going to say it was the greatest art we’d ever seen, but the sheer strangeness of it made the experience a memorable one. If you find yourself in Springfield, Ohio, make sure to swing by! Entrance is free, and it’s open from dawn to dusk.