Marion: Home of popcorn, a president and Prince Imperial
The city of Marion is the former home and final resting place of President Warren G. Harding. It’s the site of the renowned Marion Popcorn Festival and the frozen-in-time Prince Imperial, horse of Emperor Napoleon III (the famous Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew), whose long, braided mane has drawn travelers from across the country.
Marion is an eclectic place for sightseers: From history buffs interested in Civil War lore to popcorn fanatics (and really, who isn’t?) to model airplane hobbyists, the city promises to be a fascinating trip for just about anyone.
Guided by the Marion Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s ninth annual “Marion’s Amazing Treasures” Bingo-style scavenger hunt (you can get a copy here), our family of four made the hour-and-change drive to Marion recently to see what it had to offer.
Lucky for us, the Wyandot Popcorn Museum, Prince Imperial and an impressive collection of Warren G. Harding relics were all housed in one place: Heritage Hall in downtown Marion. The former post office is now home to the Marion County Historical Society, whose members clearly take great pride in preserving the county’s pieces of yesteryear.
The main floor is dedicated largely to Civil War memorabilia, including a large collection of letters written by a soldier to his family in Marion.
A very friendly and knowledgeable historical society volunteer gave our family a tour of the floor and offered to be on hand if we had any questions.
Browsing the antique popcorn poppers, wagons and carts was a colorful and nostalgic experience, conjuring up images of fairs and carnivals of bygone days (even if you haven’t been around long enough to experience them). The museum calls Marion home because of the Wyandot Popcorn Company—now Wyandot Inc., a snack food manufacturer which was founded there in 1936.
Standing in the adjacent room to gaze at the towering Prince Imperial is also a surreal experience. His impressive white braids cascade to the floor and you can’t help wonder if he’s actually staring down at you, despite the fact that in 1888 he galloped into the Great Pasture In the Clouds (sort of). (Note: this is not a model. It’s the actual horse, stuffed with care after his death to ensure his fame would continue.)
On the outskirts of town, the marble tomb of President Harding and his wife, Florence, is a magnificent sight. Beautiful, peaceful and imposing at the same time, the Harding Memorial is a lovely tribute to the Hardings’ contributions to our country.
Lastly we ducked into Carroll’s Jewelers, where the staff encouraged us to find the adorable Woodland Elves taking up residence in and around the jewelry displays. Inspired by the new book of the same name by local author Shary Williamson, the elves add a perfect touch of fantasy and whimsy to their sparkly surroundings at Carroll’s.
We ended our day with a blast from the past at Stewart’s Drive-In, where a cold root beer float was a perfect finish to our adventures.