FINDING SOUTH DIXIE Drive Expedition #1

Expedition Team:  Dave Miller

Expedition Date:  December 2014

Below are a few pictures of Expedition #1 to find the original South Dixie Highway. It was built in sections, some dirt and some brick in the 1840’s and originally called the Cincinnati-Dayton Pike, Great Miami Turnpike and old State Route 25. Through written reports and through old photo’s (like the 1918 photo #3 below showing the area before Frisch’s Restaurant was built), I determined that the original highway still may exist in sections underground. Using old maps, I guessed that it ran parallel to the existing overpass (where Dryden Road dead ends to Central/Dixie). On my 14th ground probe about twenty yards north of the railroad underpass, I hit more than dirt and small rocks. It was solid. I dug down about three inches, found a brick and then cleared out a section. Like magic, there it was. The original road was a ground crossing over the Big 4 Railroad (no bridge then) although there was bridges just south of here crossing over the Miami-Erie Canal and the old interurban ROV transit/trolley line. 



Expedition Team:  Dave Miller, Holly Miller

Date: 2016

As we pulled up, I saw what looked like two oblong silver saucers joined by a big metal duct (walkway). This sort of alien duplex, is an iconic piece of architecture and a Carlisle landmark. Investigator Holly said of the UFO looking house “I thought Fox Mulder was going to walk out any minute.”

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:  Designed in 1968 at the height of the space craze by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, his intent was to create a prefabricated portable ski chalet/cabin.  It was called a Futuro House.  Each house was made of only 16 pieces and consisted of 16 to 20 windows, one bedroom, one bathroom and a 25 foot padded bench that curved around one room.  You had to climb retractable stairs to enter.  Only 96 Futuro Houses were made.

FINDINGS:  What makes this unique is it is the only Twin Futuro House on record. Originally, one of the Carlisle Futuro houses was installed at the Wright Brothers Airport in Springboro in the 1970’s and was there for several years. The second house was rumored to have been a donut shop, original location unknown. Both were eventually moved to the Carlisle location and were used as a residence. Today, the outer curved shell appears to have some deterioration but overall, the twin UFO’s look quite eerie at night.

The UFO House is located at 9961 Central Ave. (corner of Carlisle Pike 123 and Chamberlain Road) just southeast of Twin Creek Metropark.


Expedition Team: Dave Miller
Expedition Date: September 2016

Has anyone seen this truck in the Dayton area? After an event at Riverscape Park in Dayton I saw and took photo’s of this unique vehicle. There are over 1,000 items glued onto the pickup truck such as star wars characters, barbie dolls, disney characters, bat mobile, bumper stickers, buttons, shells, an etch-a-sketch and other figures. The truck had a sign that said “gives away free books to encourage people to become Literacy Tutors”. There was a couple dozen old paperback books on the truck.

DIVING MORAINE PONDS Expedition #1 Moraine, Ohio

Dive Team:  Matt Miller, Austin Whitt, Holly Miller, Dave Miller

Dive Date: August 15, 2016

This was an environmental cleanup dive to promote safe fish habitat and remove harmful plastic from Deer Meadow Park’s nine acre pond. We concentrated our cleanup around disc golf course water holes #2 & #3. We removed six plastic bottles, 31 discs and one golf ball. We also saved the life of a turtle who had swallowed bait and a hook. After the dive we took the turtle home and Dr. Matt & Dr. Austin surgically removed the hook and fishing line and Nurse Dave drove the turtle back and released him in the pond.

Visibility was only 1 to 4 feet. Dive lights had no effect. We did see some bass, crappie and bluegill. We wore swimming trunks & dive gear but no wetsuits. The water was warm but in deeper water we hit many thermoclines (a layer of colder water between the warmer surface zone and the colder deep water zone). My max depth was around 12 feet but brave scuba divers Matt & Austin went deeper. They finally abandoned their descent at 18 feet due to a freezing thermocline and zero visibility. A thunderstorm ended our 70 minutes of diving.

The next afternoon Holly and Dave used the final two tanks of air diving a large pond beside the Moraine Miami River Boat Dock off of East River Road. Once again dodging rain showers we dove 50 minutes with 10 foot visibility. Aquatic plants near shore gave way to grass slopes and dirt bottom with many shells. Barren pockets in the grass held bluegill and small fish. Saw a few large catfish. Hit very cold thermo clines at 20 feet. Did not go beyond 24 feet in the dark depths. This was a surprisingly clear, safe and warm water dive for the first 10 feet. Can’t wait to go back.

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

Expedition Date:  July 2016

For those of you living in the Dayton area you are all familiar with this 56 foot tall tower located in the woods of Hills & Dales Metropark next to Community Golf Course. I remember my Moraine Meadows Elementary School 5th grade class taking a field trip and picnic to the tower back in 1965. But did you know who built the tower, why it was built and it’s ghostly urban legend?

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:  This giant turret-shaped stone tower has also been called Frankenstein’s Castle, Stink Tower, Patterson Tower and other monikers. The tower was believed to have been built by John H. Patterson as an observation tower or a fire lookout.

PARANORMAL CLAIMS:  For over forty years there were rumors that many people had been killed in the tower. After much research I discovered the tower was closed in the 1970’s after two teenagers were struck by lightning on May 17, 1967 while seeking refuge in the tower from an electrical storm. A 16 year old Bellbrook High School sophomore died  (Photo #6) and her companion, a 17 teen year old Bellbrook High School junior was seriously burned. (For a full story on the tragic lightning deaths, see the May 18, 1967 edition of the Xenia Daily Gazette).  Legend has it that the charred outlines of the teens were seen on the tower stone walls and steps. This fueled rumors and sightings of apparitions, nocturnal lights and a woman in a white dress appearing in the dark tower especially during storms.   

THE INVESTIGATION:  After additional research, I discovered the tower was built as an observation tower to overlook the park. It was NOT constructed by Patterson (who died in 1922) as work didn’t begin on the tower until 1940. Constructed by stones salvaged from condemned buildings it was built by the National Youth Administration (NYA) and finished in February of 1941. The tower has three feet thick walls and 50 steps to the top. The tower originally had a roof until it collapsed with age (Photo #1).

On July 3rd I hiked two miles in light rain. Although I have been to the tower a half dozen times before, returning to the tower for the first time in about a decade still brought goose bumps as the stone edifice slowly appeared through the trees. The iron door was gone and the entrance concreted shut. With the entrance door barred, I remember climbing and squeezing in the lower left window in the late 1980’s and walking up the spooky, winding stone staircase. Three windows wrapped around the tower at various heights. Today, the windows had bars preventing access except the left window in the lower set of three windows (Photo #5).  We spend two hours until just past dusk taking photos, EVP’s and listening for anything unusual. We found no evidence during this investigation.



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.


Expedition Team:  Dave Miller, Aaron Vietor, Kim Wallace, Mike Moorhead

Photo #1 taken in 1926 and shows an aviation event at Moraine Field, Dayton Municipal Airport. Our research was to (1) determine the location of Moraine Field and (2) determine was it really Dayton’s first Municipal Airport. This expedition was different, instead of walking through woods and trails as I did to discover the location of the Wright Brothers “Pinnacles”, we explored the internet, library and museum archives.

In the 1926 photos, Aaron thought the road at the top was Northlawn Ave. (based on the similar tree line and slight bend) when compared with a 1965 photo. I found a reprint of this 1926 photo in a 1979 Moraine publication which stated the airport was near Bertwyn Drive and Dorothy Lane. Bertwyn Drive up until the 1980’s was the northern part of now Springboro Pike between the Northlawn Bridge and I-75. Kim, Aaron and I kept searching. Aaron found Photo #2 which shows the airpark and what looks like Springboro Pike south of Northlawn. Researching the Dayton History archives I confirmed that location by finding several photos taken from a biplane circling the airport (taken in either the fall of 1926 or spring of 1927) clearing showing Springboro and Dorothy Lane. The airport would have been located 200 yards east of the Northlawn Bridge/Springboro Pike intersection and north of the new Fuyao Glass Plant (former General Motors Plant) entrance road.

Question 2, was this really the first Dayton Municipal Airport. Mike had located a document referencing a letter to the Dayton City Manager from Rinehart-Whelan Company (former Wright Brothers test pilots) offering the Moraine Flying Field to the City of Dayton in April 1926, without cost, as a Municipal Landing Field for commercial airplanes. On May 5, I spent the afternoon at Wright State University Library, Wright Brothers Special Collections. A box was brought to me labeled “Old Dayton Municipal Airport Documents”. It contained one file per year from 1926 to 1953. The 1926 file had 11 letters/documents. An April 1926 letter from Rinehart offered the airpark to Dayton City Manager Eichelberger. The Dayton City Attorney prepared an acceptance contract and resolution (Photo#6). An August 12, 1926 letter from the City Manager (Photo#7) proved the City of Dayton financed the painting of “Moraine Field, Dayton Municipal Airport” and utilized the field although no formal contract was signed.

A 1927 document went on to say that Moraine field was utilized until the summer of 1928 when air mail service moved to Wright Field in Dayton. That year a memo by the City Manager showed that Dayton was looking for land in the Vandalia area for an airport.  Another letter to Dayton Airport Committee marketing state of the art hangers with a 50’ mast for airships. We all know this new air transportation trend ended abruptly with the Hindenburg Disaster.

The Moraine Historical Marker (Photo#5) commemorating Moraine Field was installed in August of 2016 at the Fuyao entrance ramp just east of the Northlawn/Springboro intersection across from the Northlawn Avenue Bridge.