Exploring the Midwest

Quirky Midwest Museum: Pencil Sharpener Museum in Ohio | Exploring the Midwest Podcast Episode 19

Last Updated on June 21, 2021 by Jody Halsted

Not all museums are huge places with priceless works of art or historical revelation. Some museums begin with a passion and a collection. The Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum is one of those places.

Karen Raymore, Executive Director for Explore Hocking Hills, provides details about this fascinating, wee museum.

The Pencil Sharpener Museum

The Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum is located at the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center in Logan, Ohio. Logan is in the southeastern part of Ohio and sits along the Hocking River. It is just 48 miles southeast of Columbus.

History of the Museum

Reverend Paul Johnson began collection pencil sharpeners after his wife gave him a few. From there, his passion — and his collection — grew. People learned he loved pencil sharpeners and began giving them to him as gifts. He and his wife traveled internationally as missionaries, and some of the sharpeners came from those trips. In time, his collection began to overtake his house, so he built a shed on his property and created a tiny museum for his pencil sharpeners.

Rev. Johnson put up a sign in front of his museum with a phone number and said to call if you wanted a tour. He loved giving tours to visitors and showing off his collection. In fact, sometimes to add to his collection, he would have to buy a dozen or so of the same pencil sharpener to get one to put in his museum. He would give away the others to people who would come and visit.

About 10 years ago, the shed was moved to its current location at the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. Before it was moved, Rev. Johnson and his wife, along with Karen Raymore from Explore Hocking Hills, photographed where every sharpener sat on every shelf so the museum was put back together exactly as it was originally.

Highlights of the Collection

The museum, which houses more than 3,500 different pencil sharpeners, is reputed to be the only museum of its kind in the world and the largest collection of its kind in the country. The museum contains one of the first pencil sharpeners ever invented, as well as the patent papers.

One of Rev. Johnson’s most prized sharpeners was one depicting the Twin Towers. Being a veteran of World War II, he also had several military-themed pencil sharpeners. From farm implements to animals to surfboards, you can find just about any type of pencil sharpener in the museum.

Hours

The Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum and the Hocking HIlls Regional Welcome Center are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Other Activities in Hocking Hills, Ohio

Hocking Hills is most known for Hocking Hills State Park, which is the most visited state park in Ohio. It’s actually six non-contiguous sites that are under the umbrella of the Hocking Hills State Park.

  • Ash Cave — The largest recessed cave east of the Mississippi, Ash Cave has a horseshoe-shaped rim is 700 feet across as well as a runoff waterfall.
  • Cantwell Cliffs — One of the most remote areas of Hocking Hills, Cantwell Cliffs offers hikers both high rim trails that showcase breathtaking vistas and a valley trail, where hikers can feel dwarfed by the high cliffs.
  • Cedar Falls — With water plunging 50 feet, Cedar Falls is the most photographed waterfall in Ohio. Funny enough, it does not contain any cedar trees.
  • Lake Logan — A delight for fishermen, Lake Logan contains northern pike, bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish and saugeye. It also features picnic and swimming areas, as well as walking paths.
  • Old Man’s Cave — Old Man’s Cave travels along a gorge cut through the entire 150-foot-thick Blackhand sandstone. It features the Upper Falls, Upper Gorge, Middle Falls, Lower Falls and Lower Gorge.
  • Whispering Cave/Hemlock Bridge — The Hemlock Bridge Trail passes Whispering Cave and connects with the trail to Old Man’s Cave and Cedar Falls.
  • Rock House — Rock House is the only “true” cave in Hocking HIlls, featuring natural cut-outs that look like windows.

Things to Do in Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills is known for its beauty and oudoor recreation, encompassing more than 10,000 acres of land. Trails at all of the Hocking HIlls State Park sites have been modified and enhanced for safety, so people of all ages and abilities can enjoy hiking. Other outdoor activities in the area include:

  • fishing
  • kayaking
  • canoeing
  • boating
  • zip-lining
  • rock climbing
  • rappelling
  • horseback riding
  • disc golf
  • archery
  • birdwatching

Hocking Hills Accommodations

The main type of lodging in the area is cabins, offering short-term rentals and contactless transactions. Also available in the area are bed and breakfasts, country inns, hotels, campgrounds and even unique lodging options like treehouses, yurts and even a caboose and shipping containers!

Learn more about lodging options in Hocking Hills.

Where to Eat in Hocking Hills, Ohio

In the foothills of Appalachia, Hocking Hills is really known for its comfort foods, especially homemade noodles. Many restaurants offer their version of comfort foods in the area. Pizza Crossing, a local pizzeria, was named by Trip Advisor and USA TODAY as Ohio’s Best Pizzeria.

Find more places to eat (and drink) in Hocking Hills.

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