AMY THOMPSON AVISHAI

nelsonville, ohio

One hundred years ago Nelsonville was a thriving Ohio town along the Hocking River. The area's rich natural resources of salt, iron ore, clay and coal fueled a vital economy, linking the town to the outside world by canal and railroad networks. The town's famous Star Bricks were exported across the world. At the turn of the 19th century, however, the nature of industry in America changed, leaving Nelsonville behind.

Today, most of the good jobs have left and poverty levels are high. Despite the presence of two colleges, most of the population has a level of education significantly below the state average. There are rough neighborhoods and police cruisers roam the streets.

But there is also a different side to Nelsonville. The monthly "Final Fridays" attract visitors to the galleries, restaurants, cafes and the opera house on the square. By revitalizing the town center and making Nelsonville a destination, many hope to shed the city's image as a place people simply pass through.

Southern Ohio
  
  
     
  
  
A poster of the railroad at JJ's Pizza and Bakery alludes to Nelsonville, Ohio's industrial past.
  
     
  
  
  
     
  
On the way to the River of Life Church, Nelsonville, Ohio