Carillon Park: Innovation On Hand
By Giles Kennedy
Family and Travel Columnist
Basic Info on Visiting Carillon Park
Hours of Operation*: Monday – Saturday: 9:30am-5:00pm, Sunday: 12:00pm-5:00pm (*Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day)
Admission: $12 per adult (ages 18-59), $10 per senior, $8 per child (3 –17), Children under 3 and Dayton History members are FREE
1000 Carillon Boulevard, Dayton, OH 45409
About Carillon Historical Park (from Carillon Park’s website)
“Carillon Historical Park celebrates how Dayton, Ohio, changed the world. The Gem City is home to the airplane, the automobile self-starter, the cash register, the first internationally acclaimed African American poet, the National Football League’s inaugural game, and so much more. By the turn of the 20th century, Dayton had more patents, per capita, than any U.S. city, and one-sixth of the nation’s corporate executives had spent a portion of their career at legendary Dayton company National Cash Register (NCR).
Dayton’s extraordinary history has undoubtedly impacted billions of lives. With a hand-carved carousel, 4-D theatre, trains, slides, living history experiences, thousands of artifacts, extensive educational programming, and so much more, Carillon Historical Park brings Dayton’s past to life in a way that is fun for the whole family! Here are some highlights
- At 151-feet, with 57 bells, the limestone Deeds Carillon-the Park’s namesake-was designed by Reinhard & Hofmeister, the same architectural firm responsible for Rockefeller Center. It is Ohio’s largest carillon and one of the largest carillons in the nation. The grounds surrounding the carillon and the Park’s entry gates were designed by the Olmsted Brothers, the famed landscape architects responsible for Central Park
- The John W. Berry Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center has more Wright artifacts on display than any place in the world, including the 1905 Wright Flyer III-the only airplane designated a National Historic Landmark, the world’s first practical flying machine, and what Orville considered the Wrights’ most important aircraft.
- Carillon Brewing Co. offers visitors a glimpse into 1850s-era Dayton through the authentically prepared food and drink of the times. It is the nation’s only fully operational production brewery in a museum.
- Housed in the Heritage Center of Manufacturing & Entrepreneurship is the beautiful, hand-carved Carousel of Dayton Innovation; an extensive collection of antique NCR cash registers; a 4-D animatronic theatre; and the original Deeds Barn, the storied building where Charles Kettering and the Barn Gang built the automobile self-starter, changing transportation as we know it.
- The James F. Dicke Family Transportation Center displays the 1835 B&O #1, John Quincy Adams, the oldest existing American-built locomotive; the gorgeous and opulent 1903 Detroit & Mackinac Passenger Car #100 (built by Dayton company Barney & Smith); an 1843 Conestoga wagon; a 1904 interurban; a 1923 B&O caboose; and many fascinating transportation artifacts.
- Our Great 1913 Flood exhibit tells the story of Ohio’s worst natural disaster and the remarkable story of Dayton’s recovery.
- Carillon Historical Park is home to over 30 historic structures and cares for over three million artifacts.
Personal insight from my family’s visit……
Myself, my wife and daughter visited the 1st weekend of June 2021. This is a great day trip nearly a hour and half away from most paints in Metro Columbus.
The site is south of Downtown Dayton, near the University of Dayton athletic facilities. The park property lies right along the Great Miami River near Interstate 75. This allows easy access to Carillon Park; as well as 8 other history sites. These are managed by Dayton History, a area wide history group preserving Dayton’s heritage.
Ohio had just lifted a lot of its COVID 19 protocol due to lowered case numbers and other factors.
Many of the indoor spaces had mask optional signage. The Carillon Park staff had plenty of safety and sanitation stations available.
While like anything else in Ohio being under construction; there was just that.
However, all major interpretive areas were accessible. The only down side; the long time 1/4 scale railroad was not in operation. It used to represent area railroads; as well as allowing guests to tour the property.
The inside entrance area had access to the display hall and the children’s area. These offer galleries showing history of General Motors, Delco, the National Cash Register Company and others.
For the history buffs out there, this can prove to be a very engaging and interesting experience. Knowing more about world-famous companies and their origins could be something that’s always been on the list. For further exploration about the people behind such big names, reading through resources that offer Dayton or Toledo Blade obituaries and newspaper archives can be a good start. And of course, there might be plenty of other historical records to pore over as well.
The “village” offered a timeline of setter life, early commerce and transportation.
Several restrooms were available throughout the 65 acres. On site as mentioned earlier; the Wright Brothers National Historic Site shown a window into the inventive duo.
A replica of their iconic bicycle shop, family history, and a nearly 60% original Wright Flyer were among this great hall.
If hungry, fear not.
Carillon Brewery offers a variety of pub style food for the whole family. They also offer non alcoholic and adult beverages brewed on site.
Culp’s Cafe (not open on our visit, opening late June 2021) offers more of a diner/streetcar motif to visitors. It has been a favorite for many years.
Various insights into transportation, industrial and commercial Dayton history lined a winding “Main Street”. This allowed many visitors to select whenever they wish to explore.
I would highly recommend this for the history buff and kid at heart, alike.