Ohio is known for its major cities, professional sports teams, and universities. Ohio is known also for the Cedar Point Amusement Park, the world’s largest cuckoo clock, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The state of Ohio is famous because so many famous people have come from Ohio, including 8 United States Presidents.
“What is Ohio known for?” you ask. To many people, Ohio seems too easy to overlook. Either that or they know it only from the zany memes riffing off on its seeming obscurity or terribleness. Well, someone has to set the score right. There are plenty of interesting things to do and see in the Buckeye State, and in this article, we’ll take a look at some of the things that Ohio is famous for.
- What is Ohio Known For? These 24 Famous Things!
- 1. Columbus, Ohio
- 2. Cleveland, Ohio
- 3. Cincinnati, Ohio
- 4. Hot Dogs
- 5. The Ohio State Flag
- 6. Indian Burial Mounds
- 7. Lake Erie
- 8. The Ohio River
- 9. United States Presidents
- 10. The Buckeye State
- 11. Ohio State University
- 12. Oberlin College
- 13. The Ohio State Reformatory
- 14. Corn
- 15. The First Professional Baseball Team
- 16. The Pro Football Hall of Fame
- 17. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- 18. John Mercer Langston
- 19. The Wright Brothers
- 20. The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
- 21. Thomas Edison
- 22. The World’s First Cash Register
- 23. The World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock
- 24. Cedar Point Amusement Park
- FAQs About Famous Ohio Things
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What is Ohio Known For? These 24 Famous Things!
1. Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is Ohio’s largest city, with a population of 910,000. Columbus is also the state capital. One of the main attractions here is the Columbus Zoo. Although the other cities in Ohio have the most famous Ohio sports teams, Columbus has teams of its own.
2. Cleveland, Ohio
This city in Ohio is famous for its professional sports teams. The Cleveland Browns represent Cleveland in the National Football League. The Cleveland Indians are Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team. The Cleveland Cavaliers are Ohio’s only major-league basketball team, playing in the National Basketball Association.
Cleveland, like the state to which it belongs, has received ribbing in the past, even before memes were a thing. Certain “Hastily Made” videos riffed on the city, but, let’s face it, even the nicest of towns has its not-so-nice areas.
If you visited Cleveland’s Ohio City nowadays, you’d see an entirely different side, a trendy neighborhood overflowing with chic restaurants, stores, and microbreweries. Never judge a town by its gag videos!
3. Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati is home to the Cincinnati Bengals, the second Ohio team to play in the NFL and continue on to the current day (Ohio actually had several other NFL franchises in its history). Cincinnati is also home to the MLB’s Cincinnati Reds. In the culinary world, Cincinnati is famous for Cincinnati chili, a hearty meat sauce often served atop spaghetti or a hot dog.
4. Hot Dogs
Speaking of hot dogs, the famous franks are a staple of local Ohio cuisine. In Cincinnati, the dogs are doused with the city’s famous chili. Cleveland tops kielbasa with coleslaw, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, and french fries. Some scholars believe that it was Ohioan Harry Mosley Stevens who first invented the classic American hot dog while residing in New York which is known for its Coney Island hot dogs.
5. The Ohio State Flag
Ohio’s state flag has the distinction of being the only non-rectangular state flag. Instead, the flag has a swallow-tail shape.
John Eisenmann, the designer of the flag explained the symbolism of the unusual shape of the flag, as well as the images on the flag. In short, the triangles represented the landscape of Ohio; the stripes represent Ohio’s roads; the 17 stars stand for the 13 original colonies, with the 4 extra stars representing Ohio as the 17th state.
6. Indian Burial Mounds
The prehistoric Adena and Hopewell peoples of Ohio left behind lasting testimonies to their beliefs and culture in burial mounds throughout the state. One of the most intriguing is the Great Serpent Mound near Peebles, Ohio. The Adena people built this 1,348’ long, 3’ high mound in the shape of a giant snake.
Scholars have several theories for the construction of the mound, such as the passing of Halley’s Comet. To the ancient Adena people, the comet’s tail may have resembled a snake, or so the theory states. Other similar theories propose supernovas as the inspiration, but no consensus exists.
7. Lake Erie
Ohio only borders one of the five Great Lakes–Lake Erie. Throughout Ohio’s history, the lake played an important role. It connected Ohio with other lands to the north and helped facilitate trade and shipping, especially during America’s Industrial Revolution.
The lake also provided Ohio with a booming fishing industry, which, due to overfishing, declined in the 1950s. Today, one can still enjoy good sport fishing on Ohio’s Erie shore, even if commercial fishing is not yet possible.
❓ Trivia Time: What states are the Great Lakes in?
8. The Ohio River
The Ohio River forms the entire southern border of the state. The Ohio River runs through several states and is one of the main tributaries of America’s famous Mississippi River.
The Ohio River itself is fed by smaller tributary streams and rivers all across the Ohio River Valley. This valley, despite its name, is actually a region on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River where flooding of the river deposited sediment.
❓ Trivia Time: Other than the Ohio River Valley, what is Kentucky known for?
9. United States Presidents
Ohio may not draw much attention from modern eyes, but it played an important role in American history.
Eight Presidents of the United States came from Ohio:
- William Henry Harrison (9th President)
- Ulysses S. Grant (18th President)
- Rutherford B. Hayes (19th President)
- James A. Garfield (20th President)
- Benjamin Harrison (23rd President)
- William McKinley (25th President)
- William H. Taft (27th President)
- Warren G. Harding (29th President)
10. The Buckeye State
Ohio’s nickname has an amusing backstory. The name derives from the buckeye trees. The nut produced by this tree resembled a deer’s eye, and the trees were named accordingly by both Native and Anglo-American people.
During his campaign for the presidency, William Henry Harrison received mockery from his opponents who said he was only good for sitting around in a log cabin. Harrison’s supporters turned this insult into a boast, making his campaign logo a log cabin built from buckeye trees, which, in turn, was decorated with draped strings of buckeyes. After Harrison won the presidency, the name stuck.
❗ Fun Facts: Another state got its nickname from an insult that turned into a compliment. Read our article “What is North Carolina Known For?” to learn about the Tarheel State.
11. Ohio State University
This public university in Columbus, Ohio shares in the proud buckeye heritage, naming its sports teams the Ohio State Buckeyes. Besides sports, Ohio State is known for its political science program (and many other fields of study)and is frequently ranked as one of the best universities in America.
12. Oberlin College
Oberlin College is famous for its music conservatory. Wikipedia relates that Oberlin is also famous as the oldest co-ed liberal arts college in America and the second oldest continuously-operating co-ed liberal arts college in the world. Not bad for a college that routinely has a student body of just a few thousand.
13. The Ohio State Reformatory
This former prison closed its doors in 1990 but gained fame in 1994 as the filming location for The Shawshank Redemption. The site of the reformatory served as a training camp for Union soldiers in the Civil War. After the war, in 1886, construction on the present-day building began, only reaching completion in 1910 due to funding issues. By 1895, though, it was ready to begin housing inmates, which it did for the next 95 years.
Ohio relies on agriculture for a major portion of its state economy, and one of the main crops is corn. Besides food, one of the main uses for corn is the distillation of ethanol alcohol. Ohio’s ethanol industry relies on Ohio corn for the production of everything from perfume and colognes to rubbing alcohol and fuel additives.
15. The First Professional Baseball Team
America’s favorite pastime has a long history in Ohio. The Buckeye State boasts the first professional baseball team in American history. In 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings (now the Cincinnati Reds) squared off against another Cincinnati team.
Baseball had been slowly taking shape over the previous two decades and was more of an informal activity. The Red Stockings changed that, being the first team of men whose job it was to play baseball.
16. The Pro Football Hall of Fame
Another trophy on Ohio’s shelf (pun intended) is the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The Pro Football Hall of Fame opened its doors on September 7, 1963, serving to preserve the legacy of the great players and coaches of the game. Although located in Ohio, dat certain team from dat certain town in nearby Illinois is known for having the most (30) inductees to this hall of fame.
17. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Buckeye State has another hall of fame–the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A pyramid-like structure in downtown Cleveland preserves the memory of the most famous musicians, producers, and other contributors to rock music.
Exhibits display memorabilia from famous rock stars as well as information on the roots of rock music in genres such as blues and jazz.
18. John Mercer Langston
Although born in Virginia, John Mercer Langston studied at Oberlin College. 1854 he passed the bar exam, becoming the first African-American lawyer in the state of Ohio. Later on, he moved back to Virginia. In 1888, he became the first African-American elected to federal office from that state, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.
19. The Wright Brothers
When it comes to aviation, Ohio can proudly lay claim to the Wright Brothers. Although this famous duo first took to the skies in North Carolina, they traced their roots to Ohio.
Although Wilbur Wright was born in Indiana on April 16, 1867, the family soon moved to Dayton, Ohio, where Orville Wright was born on August 19, 1871. As the brothers grew up in Dayton, their interest in flight grew with them.
After their first flight in North Carolina, the brothers returned to Ohio, continuing to develop their aircraft at Huffman Field outside Dayton. By 1909, they had the financial means to establish the Wright Company and begin manufacturing aircraft.
20. The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
The legacy of the Wright Brothers lives on in this United States Air Force base bearing their name. This base played an important role in research and development during World War II. Downed or captured enemy aircraft were brought here so that Allied forces could better know how to combat their opponents.
After the war, the base took on the project of assessing various UFO sightings that began to occur around the nation. By 1968, the project directors concluded that there was not enough evidence to support these phenomena being of extraterrestrial origin. With that conclusion, the project came to an end.
❓ Trivia Time: Ohio may have studied UFO sightings from around the country, but New Mexico is known for the most famous UFO-related incident of all–the Roswell incident.
21. Thomas Edison
In addition to the Wright Brothers, another revolutionary inventor hails the Buckeye State–Thomas Edison.
Edison was born and raised in Ohio. Shortly after reaching adulthood, he moved to New York City, and, in time, New Jersey, which is known for Edison’s famous Menlo Park laboratory. Edison’s birthplace in Milan, Ohio now stands as a museum dedicated to the memory of this pivotal figure in the history of invention.
22. The World’s First Cash Register
Although the inventor of this device did not gain the same fame as the Wright Brothers of Thomas Edison, his influence is felt every day by millions of people around the world. Ohio History Central relates in this linked article how Dayton, Ohio saloon owner James Ritty devised a machine to help keep track of sales.
Together with his brother, Ritty created the first cash register ever. This machine had no drawer but kept accurate records of sales. The new device did not gain popularity and Ritty sold the patents to a group of Ohio investors. Among them was industrialist John H. Patterson, the man who would “cash in” on Ritty’s invention, gaining the fame that had eluded Ritty.
23. The World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock
Practical inventions are all fine and good, but what is a state without something quirky to liven things up a little? In the small town of Sugarcreek, Ohio stands a behemoth cuckoo clock measuring over 23’ tall by 24’ wide.
Every half hour, the cuckoo emerges from the top of the clock to signal the time and a mechanical band of wooden figures emerges as polka music plays. This site held the Guinness World Record for many years but has recently seen some competition from the homeland of the cuckoo clock.
24. Cedar Point Amusement Park
Cedar Point Amusement Park located in Sandusky, Ohio is one of the most remarkable amusement parks out there. Cedar Point makes the claim of being the largest amusement park in the entire world. Some might dispute this, citing such examples as Disney World Paris or Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. You could say those are theme parks, encompassing more than just rides.
Either way, it seems odd to get into technical debates over places you’re supposed to have fun. Few would dispute Cedar Point’s claim to fame as the Roller Coaster Capital of the World. Cedar Point has also won the prestigious Golden Ticket Award for “Best Amusement Park in the World” for sixteen consecutive years from 1997 to 2013. Hard to argue with that.
👉 Read Next: What is Each of the 50 US States Known For?
FAQs About Famous Ohio Things
What foods from Ohio are famous?
Cincinnati chili, cheese coney hot dogs, Shaker lemon pie, and Barberton Chicken are some of Ohio’s specialties.
What famous people are from Ohio?
Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Dean Martin, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Drew Carey are a few of the famous people from Ohio.
What are 3 things that make Ohio famous?
Ohio is famous for the Cedar Point Amusement Park, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (American football, that is).
Is Six Flags Magic Mountain in Ohio?
Six Flags Magic Mountain is located in Valencia, California. Ohio used to have a Six Flags park, but the park closed down in 2007
So, what is Ohio known for? The supposedly-obscure Ohio was the home of United States Presidents, great American inventors, and many contemporary celebrities. Ohio holds both ancient mysteries and records of modern achievements. Don’t let the jokesters have the last laugh, the Buckeye State is a remarkable place!