Shawnee is a delightful, well preserved, historically significant town in the southeastern Ohio Hocking Valley coal mining district. Shawnee was one of a dozen or so towns in the area that boomed from the 1870s to the 1930s. Of those that I've been to Shawnee is uniquely untouched. As well as being a home for coal miners and processors Shawnee had several brick factories and a bustling downtown in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The highest census count for Shawnee was in 1890 at 3,266 but this seems like a low number given the extent of development that can be seen in old photographs. Shawnee's population is now hovering around 600. New Straitsville (another interesting old coal town) is just 2.5 miles from Shawnee. Shawnee was named after the local native people (The Shawnee) who were expelled to Oklahoma.
Impressive small-scale preservation efforts are under way in Shawnee in spite of the challenging local economy. Empty buildings are secured and allowed to stand rather than be torn down as has happened in neighboring towns. Several buildings had recently been fixed up and or were freshly painted when I visited in 2013. There was an operating antique shop, a bar/restaurant and an arts center in town. A friendly woman offered to show us the inside of the old theater and I regret declining the invitation. The balconies that over-hang the sidewalks on main street give Shawnee a unique look. I've never seen anything exactly like it. There's a historic plaque in a small downtown park that explains Shawnee's roll in the early history of the United States labor movement. The Knights of Labor built an impressive opera house (pictured) in 1881. The text of the plaque is here. Shawnee was a fun town to walk around in. Definitely my favorite of the many very interesting old coal towns in the area.
I wasn't able to find much information about Shawnee online. Here are a few interesting things I found:
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