Marion, OH: Home of Warren G. Harding
Marion, OH’s history is tied to the success of both the Panama Canal and the Space Program. Not bad credentials for a small city! Marion, OH is the county seat of Marion County and was founded in 1821 by Eber Baker and Alexander Holmes. Within fifteen years, Marion had a population of over 800 residents. By the end of the century, the population had soared to approximately 11,000. Marion is the home of President Warren G. Harding, who had previously owned the Marion Daily Star newspaper.
Marion Steam Shovel Company was founded in the 1880s. Its steam-powered shovels were very popular during the Westward Expansion, for their use in the construction of the railroads. Around the turn of the century, Marion Steam Shovel was awarded the contract to provide the steam shovels for use in construction of the Panama Canal. Their shovels were used almost exclusively during the construction. Because of this, Marion was labeled “the City that Built the Panama Canal.” Half a century later, the newly-named Marion Power Shovel (steam-power having gone out of vogue) assisted in NASA’s Apollo program by constructing the transporters that moved the Apollo rockets in preparation for launch.
Marion, Ohio is also home to one of the world’s only popcorn museums, the Wyandot Popcorn Museum. It features the world’s largest collection of antique popcorn poppers. It is one of only two popcorn museums in the world.
Marion’s most famous resident is President Warren G. Harding. Before running for public office, Harding was the owner of the Marion Daily Star newspaper and worked as its publisher and editor. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1913, after a failed run for Ohio Governor. He gave the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in 1916 and was elected President four years later. Much of his presidential Harding inherited a post-war recession and made strong pro-business moves, including high tariffs on foreign companies and reduced taxes. In his short time in office, he reduced the deficit by 25%. This was an important step in the short term recovery of the economy, but some economists think it’s possible Harding’s policies contributed to the environment of the Great Depression. Harding was a supporter of both the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act, though he thought that temperance was a moral issue which couldn’t be feasibly policed. He also was an early advocate of equal civil rights for African Americans, as evidenced by a speech he gave in Birmingham, Alabama in the early 1920s. Harding had a heart attack on August 2, 1923 and died while still in office. Harding Home, the Marion residence of Warren and Florence Harding from 1889-1921, is open for public tours.
“Marion Ohio” by User:OHWiki – Own work (self-made photograph). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marion_Ohio.jpg#/media/File:Marion_Ohio.jpg
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