Expedition Team:  Dave Miller, Rosie Miller

Expedition Date:  October 22, 2016

In the summer of 1972 when not attending Fairmont West High School, John Spears, Dennis Griffith and I would hike the wooded area, sand & gravel pits and ridge line in the northeast part of Moraine between the railroad tracks and Carillon Park/Calvary Cemetery. Often we would climb and ride the trains short distances (once the train did not stop and we rode it clear to Cincinnati which was a scary adventure). On one hike while following a deer trail on the ridgeline we noticed a gravestone off by itself in the woods. It read Bernard Gansford, 1820-1876.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:  Well, maybe none. But Dayton was founded in 1805. Bernard had to be an early pioneer. If he (and maybe his family) lived near his burial site it was a prime time spot in the woods and near the clean Miami River for hunting and fishing. I spoke to staff at Dayton History (Carillon Park) while researching a different project and they wanted to know if I could find and confirm the name, date and location of the gravestone and they would research this pioneer being that the grave is relatively close to their park. 

THE HIKE: Being 44 years later things have changed. The gravel/sand company is gone as is the former County Incinerator replaced by the County Solid Waste Transfer & Recycling Station and businesses like Compunet and Weiler Welding on Sandridge Drive. The deep wooded Calvary Ridge area we had to search is behind these buildings with Calvary Cemetery over the hill on the east side. 

The hike began at 10:30am. Temperature was 86 degrees and very humid. There was no discernible trail. As we ascended we walked through some grass land but mainly knee to waist high weeds, grass and thistle bushes. We had many dead ends due to tree and weed thickets. We retraced our steps many times and came upon a sandy limestone cliff face pockmarked with holes. This otherworldly sight turned out to be hundreds of swallow houses as the birds swooped in and out of the holes. A quarter mile later behind the transfer station I found something white and round buried in the ground in the weeds. Then another. Rosie and I ended up finding 25 golf balls out in the weedy middle of nowhere. I am sure there are more. I finally found a small trail with few weeds that headed up a steep hillside to a grassy area. At the summit where the grass was it was clear and the tree line near the ridge top was only 75 yards away. I was very spent from the climb and the recent chemotherapy, hot and dizzy. It was now 88 degrees. I sipped water, took photos and rested. I returned downhill to where Rosie waited. I spotted a deer but it turned out to be a joke on me – a plastic deer standing in the woods.  So soon I will return and hike and explore further up the hill seeking the old trail and the gravestone. 

OLD DAYTON PIONEER GRAVE Expedition #2 Moraine, Ohio

Expedition Team:  Dave Miller

Expedition Date:  September 2017

This is our second trek to find the grave site of Dayton Pioneer Bernard Gansford.  Dennis Griffith, John Spears and I found the grave marker in the woods on Calvary Ridge off of a deer trail back in 1972.  The dates on the marker for this old Dayton pioneer was 1820-1876.  Since I have not hiked this trail in 44 years there is a good chance that soil, leaves and debris cover the marker.  My quest is to find it and report it to Calvary Cemetery and to research who this pioneer was.

At the bottom of Cavalry Ridge at the beginning of my hike, I found 22 golf balls in the same grassy area as on July 23 when I found 25 golf balls (and there are more to be found). I made the ascent up the hill and after 30 minutes of searching I found the old deer path trail that I last walked in 1972. After a half mile of hiking and spooking many white tailed deer, the trail ended in waist high weeds. Fifty yards later I exited the weeds to find an open area and a maintenance shed in the far west property of Cavalry Cemetery.

I am certain that the pioneer’s marker was just off this deer path. John Spears, the photo I posted should match the 1972 Super 8 film that we teenagers took of us hiking the trail.

Near the end of my hike I found a few old bricks that looked like the early 1900 brick that Ron Elter dug up on our third expedition at the South Dixie Highway excavation site. There was some engraving on the brick. I will research that.

I am very exciting that I found the trail. If anyone wants to join me for a hike dress for the weather, wear hiking boots and bring a hiking stick. There is a 50 yard ascent up the hill which is slightly challenging but once on the summit of Cavalry Ridge it is a comfortable hike the rest of the way.


Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Jacque Kelly, Nick Kelly
Expedition Date: September 18, 2016
Many of you have taken this tour offered by Queen City Underground Tours. The Gateway District used to have 130 saloons, bars, beer gardens and theaters. Under Over-The-Rhine, newly discovered tunnels vital to Cincinnati’s brewing heritage have revealed traces of late 1800’s activity. This underground brewery was important since Cincinnatian’s doubled the national average for beer consumption during pre-prohibition times.

Our group entered an old building named The Guild Haus, the former John Kauffman Brewery Building. The Kauffman Brewery, once the fourth largest in the nation, was in operation until the early 1900’s. When Kauffman stopped storing beer in the cold tunnels due to the invention of electric refrigeration, the floor of the basement was cemented over sealing the tunnels.

During building renovation in the 1990’s, blueprints revealed something underground. The concrete was jack hammered revealing the former brewery tunnels and chambers filled with artifacts from the past.

We carefully walked down a tight, steep, wooden set of stairs. The dimly lighted tunnels below were hand dug in the 1860’s. The temperature in the tunnels were a constant 55 degrees year round. A few old pipes with huge spider webs hung overhead among the brick ceiling. Some artifacts found in the tunnels (bottles, jars, shoes) were displayed on wooden planks. In one tunnel I poked around a pile of dirt and found remains of a 100 year old shoe and an old bottle. This adventure definitely gave us a good look at the past. It also gave us a thirst. We quenched it at the Rhinegeist Brewery with a good cold brewski.


Expedition Team: Rosie Miller, Dave Miller, Jacque Kelly, Nick Kelly
Expedition Date: July 2016

Under this old Catholic Church in the Over-The-Rhine District in Cincinnati, Ohio lies a hidden crypt where some of Cincinnati’s first residents are buried. The original church was built in 1819. When the old church was torn down and the new church was built in 1859, a large number of Irish bodies were buried in a mass grave under the alter. Their gravestones were laid down to pave the floor. Today 41 tombstones lay or are leaned against the wall in two small dimly lighted, spooky rooms in the lower level of the church.  Some say it is haunted, others say no.

Topside, the church is very beautiful. Above the front door is a statue of St. Francis which was imported from Munich, Germany in the 1860’s.


Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Nick Kelly, Jacque Kelly, Matt Miller & Brianna Lloyd
Expedition Date: July 2, 2016

As a member of the Wright Seaplane Base Inc. club for a decade, we promote and educate the public that Orville Wright made over 100 flights from 1912 to 1914 on a hydroaeroplane (seaplane) at the bend of the Miami River in Moraine and West Carrollton. The Wright Brothers set up one of the first seaplane bases in the world on the Moraine side of the river. As a gift, my family purchased for me a ride on the 1911 Wright B Flyer replica so that I could fly in an early Wright Brothers plane although this was not a seaplane.

The Wright Brothers built America’s first airplane factory in 1910. The Model B was the first product.

I was led to the plane and carefully climbed steps to be seated by the pilot. A trip and fall to the left would have sent me into one of the two large rear propellers. A was harnessed in tightly to the seat located in front of the wings. A grounds crew member placed goggles and a headset on my head so that a could speak to the pilot. There was no dashboard in front of me, only a metal steering wheel and some metal framework but mainly nothing but open air. We taxied down the runway and when reaching 45mph the Brown Bird (the plane’s nickname) soared up into the sky to a height of 55 to 60ft cruising at 60mph. The pilot handled the slight crosswinds. I had a GoPro camera strapped to my head which I grabbed as the wind buffeted us. It was amazing to fly with nothing in front of you and experience the sights, sounds and feel of the wind just as the Wright Brothers and early test pilots felt.  The  flight was almost a mile long and lasted a mere 25 seconds.  The landing was surprisingly soft and we taxied back to the hanger where my family awaited.

A certificate of accomplishment was given to me for flying. A toothpick was taped on the top right corner. I asked why. They explained that is for picking bugs out of your teeth, an early problem for pilots when flying in an open cockpit. The family took great photos and video. All in all, a memorable adventure.