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February  2006
Concord, Ohio

   On Interstate 70 between Cambridge and Zanesville, Ohio, we’ll see the interchange for New Concord, which is also marked as the exit for the city of Cumberland and for Muskingum College.

    New Concord is an old National Road town that was founded during the 1820s in anticipation of that road coming through. It’s been described as the quintessential American small town with its college, tree-lined streets, a pleasant pace of life, and just over 2,000 residents. An unremarkable event in this town, however, was a harbinger of bigger things to come.  

    That unremarkable event was the arrival of a family from nearby Cambridge. The father came to set up a plumbing business. He brought his wife and 2-year-old son, and they built a house which later doubled a boarding house for students from Muskingum College.

    It took a while for those “bigger things” to develop. The two-year-old had to grow up. He had to join the Marines and become a pilot. He had to become a decorated flyer in World War II and a war hero. He had to become a test pilot and set a speed record. Then he had to become one of the original seven astronauts. So that in 1962, the small town of New Concord, Ohio, was ready to receive the attention of the world when its native son, John Glenn, became the first American to orbit the earth.

    That attention wasn’t short-lived, either. As John Glenn went on to become a four-term United States Senator and a contender for the presidential nomination, he often returned to his home town to initiate his campaigns. Most recently at age 77, he became the oldest person to orbit the earth. John Glenn is the guy for whom the term, “the right stuff,” seems to have been invented. New Concord continues to honor its local hero by hosting the John and Annie Glen Historic Center and Exploration Site, a museum in the boyhood home of John Glenn, where he once built and played with model airplanes.

 For more about New Concord and its surrounding communities, see the CD for  I-70 East: Columbus, OH to Wheeling, WV.

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