Among the Silos and Steeples

Buckeye Farm Beat

Concrete silos rise amid the Catholic churces in Western Ohio community.

Published on: July 13, 2011

I spent last night in Celina working on assignment for the August issue. The meeting I was attending finished late and I got a room at the America’s Best Hotel along the shores of Grand Lake St. Marys. Before going to bed I discussed the lake’s algae problems with the motel’s owner Muhammad Khokhar. He has owned the establishment as well as the Holiday Inn Express across the road since 2007. Business a year ago was not good because of the lake’s toxic algae problems, however this year it is worse, he says.

“Last year the rooms were already booked. This year people are staying away.”

He says the odor was so bad that people would demand to go into the room and close the door to see if it penetrated the room before they agreed to stay. The only salvation was the number of public officials who came to the area to investigate the situation.

Even though the lake has not had problems so far this season visitors are skeptical, he says. Even the annual fishing tournaments have not drawn a lot of visitors. He is optimistic that the problem will not persist. “All we need is a year or two without an algae bloom and people will come back,” he says. Unlike many of the folks who make a living from the recreation around the lake, he does not put complete blame for the situation on the farmers of the area. “Farming is a tough way to make a living,” he says. “They are businessmen too. I think they need some help solving this problem. But the structure of the lake is part of the problem too.”

I didn’t sleep great and awoke early. I decided to take a drive and watch the sun come up. If you are not familiar with this very unique part of the state let me tell you it is a beautiful place to see the sun rise. It is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places as the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches.

It's easy to see why the area was dubbed The Land of Cross-Tipped Churches and listed in the National Historic Registry around 1976.

Wikipedia lists 36 of these German catholic structures built anywhere from 1846 to 1915. Most were built under the leadership of the missionary priest St. Francis de Sales Brunner and the Society of the Most precious Blood. The land is flat and you can see as many as three or four of the graceful steeples in about any panorama you choose.

St. Rose Catholic Church in Marion Township has two side towers and was built in 1892.

Rising with them are the concrete silos built to store feed for the multitude of dairy cattle that once provided a living to the farmers in the area. The cow numbers in the area have been reduced somewhat in recent years as have the number of farmers I suspect. Still the silos and the steeples reside side by side giving hope that the townsfolk and the farmers will find a solution to the algae problems in the lake.

The peaked steeples built by German Catholic missionaries are a hard contrast to the many domed covers of the silos in the Mercer County area.

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  1. established websites for sale of says:

    Spot on with this write-up, I really believe this site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the info!

  2. Brownhaven says:

    I live on a dairy farm in the area. I tell you what... we are blessed to live in the area we do. We grew up with a strong work ethic and a deep religious background. This combination is apparent in everything we do. This area has businesses that bond agriculture and industry which creates many jobs. Without the farming community, the area economy would die. Last I checked, Mercer County had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. But if you focus on Northern Darke, Southern Mercer, Southwestern Auglaize, and Northwestern Shelby; I bet it is even lower. The culture that is prevalent in the area supports community engagement, athletics, school system support, church attendance and involvement, ect. Most of the businesses, homes, and farms are keep clean, neat, and presentable (There are always a few exceptions). Many farms have been open to public tours and events. The area recently hosted the Ohio Young Farmers Summer Tour. The Ag community has been and will continue to take tremendous strides in protecting the environment. Many farms are investing money into manure storage structures to store manure through the winter months when run-off is most likely to occur. Another investment farmers are making is feedlot roof structures to keep clean rain water out of the manure. Rainwater when mixed with manure gets treated like manure; therefore, keeping rainwater clean reduces the volume of manure one needs to store. This then enables the farmer to store manure for longer periods of time before manure needs to be applied to the land which enables the farmer to be more flexible and only apply manure when conditions are favorable. Other practices farmers are implementing on the land include hay buffer stripes along roads, creeks, waterways; cover crops; Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP) which is like accounting in a business and keeps nutrient levels in fields at Agroeconomic rates; constructed wetlands; tile control structures to control tile flow in case liquid manure gets into tiles during application; reducing Phosphorus in animal diets which reduce Phosphorus in their manure; and hauling manure out of the Grand Lake Saint Marys (GLSM) watershed to fields that need the fertilizer. Progress is occurring and it will take time for that progress to show up in the water quality in GLSM. The progress is already showing up in local streams.