blaze a trail

Lancaster, Ohio

Lancaster (pronounced LANG-kuh-ster by most locals) is a city in Fairfield County, Ohio, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 35,335. It is located near the Hocking River, approximately 33 miles (53 km) southeast of Columbus, Ohio. It is the county seat of Fairfield County. The current mayor of Lancaster is Republican David S. Smith, who took office in January 2004. In November 2007, Smith won reelection to a second four year term commencing in January 2008.


The earliest known inhabitants of the southeastern and central Ohio region are the Hopewell, Adena, and Fort Ancient Native Americans, of whom little evidence today exists beyond the extravagant burial mounds these peoples left scattered around Ohio, and the archaeological artifacts left therein.(See also: Serpent Mound, Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, which though not located in Fairfield County proper, are very close by.)

Prior to and immediately after European settlement, the land today comprising Lancaster and Fairfield County, Ohio was inhabited variously by the Shawnee, Iroquois, Wyandot, and other Native American tribes, and served as a natural crossroads for the inter-tribal and intra-tribal wars fought at various times. (See also: Beaver Wars) Noted frontier explorer Christopher Gist reached the vicinity of Lancaster on January 19, 1751, when he visited the small Delaware town of "Hockhocking" nearby. Leaving the area the next day, Gist rode southwest to "Maguck," another Delaware town near Circleville.

Having been ceded to the United States by Great Britain after the American Revolution by the Treaty of Paris, the lands north of the Ohio River and west of the Appalachian Mountains became, in 1784, incorporated into the Northwest Territory. As white settlers began to encroach on their ancestral lands in the Ohio Territory, and as the nascent government of the United States began to cast its eye westward, the stage was set for the series of campaigns that culminated in the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 , and the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. With settlement within Ohio now legal, and safe from Indian raids, land speculation began in earnest.

Knowing that such speculation, combined with Congressional grants of land sections to veterans of the Revolution, could result in a lucrative opportunity, Ebenezer Zane in 1796 petitioned the US Congress to grant him a contract to blaze a trail through Ohio, from Wheeling, West Virginia, to Limestone, Kentucky, (near modern Maysville, Kentucky) a distance of . As part of the deal, Zane was awarded square-mile tracts of land at the points where his trace crossed the Hocking, Muskingum, and Scioto rivers. Zane's Trace, as it has become known, was completed by 1797 , and as Zane's sons began to carve the square mile tract astride the Hocking into saleable plots, the city of Lancaster formally came into being in 1800 , thus predating the formal establishment of the State of Ohio itself by three years.

The initial settlers were predominantly of German stock, and emigrated from Pennsylvania. Ohio's longest continuously operating newspaper, the Lancaster Eagle Gazette, was born of a merger of the early Der Ohio Adler, founded about 1807, with the Ohio Gazette, founded in the 1830s. The two newspapers were ferocious foes--they were on opposite sides of the Civil War, as was the split populace of the city itself--until they merged in 1937, shortly after the Gazette was acquired by glassmaker Anchor-Hocking. The newspaper is currently part of the Newspaper Network of Central Ohio, which is in turn a unit of Gannett, Inc.

Initially known as New Lancaster, and later shortened by city ordinance (1805), the town quickly grew; formal incorporation as a city came in 1831; the connection of the Hocking Canal to the Ohio and Erie Canal in this era provided a convenient way for the region's rich agricultural produce to reach eastern markets.

Modern Lancaster is distinguished by a rich blend of 19th-century architecture (best evidenced in historic Square 13, part of Zane's original plot) and natural beauty (best evidenced by the famous Standing Stone, today known as Mount Pleasant) with all the typical modern accoutrements of a small-medium sized American city.

Notable Natives and Residents

Lancaster is the birthplace and/or hometown of:

Society and Culture

  • Lancaster is home to the Lancaster campus of Ohio University, offering a variety of two and four year baccalaureate degrees, and several master's programs.
  • Lancaster is home to the Lancaster Festival, an 11-day arts and music festival.
  • In 1947 Lancaster was the first community in Ohio to act as the setting for a feature length Hollywood movie involving the principal cast (20th Century Fox's Green Grass of Wyoming).
  • Lancaster is home to both the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio and the Ohio Glass Museum, both located within the downtown area.


Lancaster saw a dimunution of its industrial capacity during the 1980s. Industry in Lancaster includes:




Cereal production

  • Ralston Foods is the industry leader in private label ready-to-eat and hot cereals.

Meters and regulators

Sites of interest

Mount Pleasant

A famous Lancaster landmark is Mount Pleasant, a high sandstone bluff called "Standing Stone" by earlier Native American peoples. It is located in Rising Park, a large city park on the city's north side. It is possible to climb to the top of Mount Pleasant by following a short marked trail from the park through the woods that cover the bluff's other sides. There is also a cave known unofficially as "Devils Kitchen" in the front in which braver people are willing to climb about using only shallow "bear claws". Experienced rock climbers have climbed the sandstone face of the bluff many times as well. Once one has reached the top, there is a lookout area from which one can see over great distances, and take in not just a panoramic view of the nearby Fairfield County fairgrounds and much of the city of Lancaster, but the changing landscape of Central Ohio as well--from the relatively flat farmlands north of Lancaster to the wooded hills lying south of the city. In addition, on very clear days, one is able to see the Columbus skyline.

Sherman House

Lancaster was the home of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman and his brother, Senator John Sherman. The house in which they were born has been converted to a Civil War museum, and today offers regular tours.


Lancaster is located at (39.719297, -82.605293). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.1 square miles (46.8 km²), of which, 18.1 square miles (46.8 km²) of it is land and 0.06% is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 35,335 people, 14,852 households, and 9,564 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,955.9 people per square mile (755.0/km²). There were 15,891 housing units at an average density of 879.6/sq mi (339.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.38% White, 0.61% African American, 0.30% Native American, 0.47% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and 1.03% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.82% of the population.

There were 14,852 households out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.9% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.6% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.6% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 89.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,321, and the median income for a family was $39,773. Males had a median income of $30,462 versus $23,023 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,648. About 8.7% of families and 10.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.8% of those under age 18 and 8.1% of those age 65 or over.


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