Perry County, in southeast Ohio, is home to wide-open fields in the north and gently rolling wooded hills in the south under expansive, open skies. Its rural population of just under 40,000 lives in small towns and villages, each with their own rich history.
We’re home to the Wayne National Forest – Ohio’s only national forest. ‘The Wayne’ was barren land a mere 50 years ago. Thanks to a reforestation project in the WPA era following the Great Depression, the overworked land was brought back to life. Young men drawn from all over Ohio were given a place to live and work here. They built small dams and roadways and planted millions of trees to recover and renew the land. These WPA crews are responsible in large measure for making ‘The Wayne’ the accessible, fertile, lush land, home to wildlife and waiting for adventure.
Perry State Forest and the southern portion of our Appalachian county is home to beautiful trails and lakes where hiking, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, ATV/APV riding are a way of life.
Northern Perry County borders the southeastern portion of Buckeye Lake. The former ‘Playground of Ohio,’ Buckeye Lake is experiencing a major revitalization as people discover the joys of living a relaxed Ohio life in nature.
Many motorcyclists and bicyclists pass through Perry County, enjoying the rural and forest scenery, stopping along the way in small towns for a bite at an old school diner or tavern, camping under the stars, or staying at a cozy cottage or inn.
History buffs will find a treasure trove of interesting stories here. Our Parks & Landmarks Map can help you visit places where important people and events happened here.
Rich coal mining reserves drove the settlement of our Little Cities of Black Diamonds – a name coined by a newspaper writer in the late 1800s to describe Nelsonville, one of the 70 or so coal mining boomtowns that sprung to life in our region and thrived until their decline in the first half of the 1900s. The United Mine Workers Union was first planned by workers in covert meetings at Robinson’s Cave in New Straitsville. Rendville – a mining town where immigrants worked and lived side-by-side with African-Americans – is studied today as a successful, unintended social experiment. Village residents in New Straitsville, Shawnee and other Little Cities are working to keep these stories alive for future generations. You’ll find hours and hours of stories worth reading and photographs at The Little Cities Archive. The Archive provides a map of the Little Cities.
We hope you’ll discover our wide-open spaces and tree-canopied forests, the cool waters of our lakes and the leisurely pace of our villages and communities. Whether you’re a history buff looking for interesting stories about early Ohio life, an adventurer hoping to challenge yourself on a trail, a wildlife lover seeking to connect with other creatures, you can find these experiences and find yourself here.