Let’s travel to Little Switzerland. On our 32nd Anniversary the misses and I will be making a trip to Little Switzerland. Sugarcreek, Ohio.
Swiss cheese. A railroad. Hardworking people. A painter. Brick factories and coal mines. All these have a part in Sugarcreek’s history. In 1882, a railroad built in the Sugar Creek valley brought new opportunities. The depot was about a mile east of Shanesville, and a cluster of buildings soon sprang up around it. By 1888, the growing settlement wanted its own post office and a new name. Previously known as “the town east of Shanesville,” the area became “Sugar Creek,” named after a nearby stream. Eventually the two villages grew together, but it wasn’t until 1969 that they officially merged under the name of Sugarcreek.
Years before the new railroad, however, early settlers had moved into the untamed wilderness of Sugar Creek valley. Amish families were some of the first to arrive, along with other German and Swiss families. With hard work and determination, they cut down the heavily forested area and settled on the hills of Sugarcreek. The Swiss immigrants brought with them their cheese making skills and opened small cheese factories. Over time, Sugarcreek became known as the center of the Swiss cheese making industry in Ohio. Today local descendants of the Swiss immigrants continue the cheese making legacy, using milk from local dairy farms.
To promote Swiss cheese and invite visitors to the area, Sugarcreek held its first annual Swiss festival in 1953. The festival, which centered on Swiss cheese and traditional Swiss dress, music, food, and games, was a huge success and became an annual event that drew thousands of visitors every year.