Quakers, Shakers and the inspirational history of early settlers are the focus of driving tours through the Southwest Ohio Heritage Triangle. Located in Warren County, Ohio, the Triangle is anchored by the city of Franklin on the west and connected to Waynesville on the east by St. Rte. 73; Lebanon (at the southern point) links to Franklin via St. Rte. 123, and with Waynesville via U.S. Rte. 42. Additionally, the Quaker Heritage Tour can extend your travels farther eastward, from Waynesville to Wilmington, on St. Rte. 73 — almost forming a drinking-gourd pattern like the one that guided slaves north in search of freedom on the Underground Railroad.
A major focal point of both tours, The Museum at the Friends Home in Waynesville is not directly affiliated with the Quakers, but the staff can assist in arranging tours of the adjacent Quaker Historic District. The museum’s focus is on the history of the fast-disappearing small communities of northwest Warren County — many of which were founded by Quakers. Good farmland and Ohio’s free-state status attracted the religious community here, and their convictions made many of them abolitionists, actively involved in the Underground Railroad.
A self-guided walking tour in Springboro allows travelers to view an original Quaker village area on South Main Street that has many confirmed “safe houses.” Nearby Harveysburg is home to Ohio’s first free school for African-American children, built by the Quakers in 1831. The Harveysburg Free Black School operated as a one-room schoolhouse until 1906, and it has been restored with displays related to the history of the school and town. Farther along St. Rte. 73, Wilmington College continues to expand its Quaker Heritage Center with exhibitions focused on the Quakers’ involvement in civil rights and anti-war movements.
End your journey in Lebanon, where the Warren County History Center pays homage to the area’s former Shaker farming community by displaying their finely crafted tools, preserved clothing and furnishings. Feel like dining with history? View more antique items in the Shaker Room at the historic Golden Lamb restaurant nearby.