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.