Wapakoneta, Ohio (pronounced WAH-pah-kə-NET-tə) is an amazing town with a rich history. Wapakoneta, or “Wapak” as it is known locally, sits nicely nestled right next to the highly trafficked Ohio Interstate 75.
Maybe the most popular resident of Wapakoneta is Neil Armstrong, widely known as the first man to walk on the moon. Wapak celebrates this every year with their Moon Festival. The “Moon” can also be seen from I-75 – a large round orb protruding from the ground that serves as the most visible part of the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum.
The Neil Armstrong Musuem is home to Armstrong’s spacesuits from his Gemini and Apollo missions. You can also see the Gemini VIII spacecraft, an Apollo 11 moon rock, and two aircraft that Armstrong himself flew.
The beautiful Auglaize County Courthouse also sits prominently in downtown Wapak. It was finished being built in 1894 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Nowadays you have to go through a metal detector to get in, but it’s worth it to see the architecture and paintings. There’s also a beautiful statue of the lady of Justice. The statue was resurrected in 1994 through a campaign called “Copper Pennies for the Copper Lady”. The campaign raised over $25,000 to fix her up.
Then there’s the amazingness that is the Rock Garden. The Rock Garden was built over many years in what started out as Jim Bowsher’s backyard. Jim and his brother Walt built a place for all to come and feel the spiritual zen that the rocks help provide. It’s truly a wonderful and unique place like nowhere else on the planet.
The Rock Garden is constructed with rocks and pieces of culture from all over the world. Around every turn is something new and each object has its own story, which Jim can relate to you. The piece de resistance is the magnificent Temple of Tolerance. As you climb the stairs, you realize just how big and cool it is. It was constructed as a place for people of all races, creeds and religions to come together and forget our differences.
During the warm months, every Thursday night they have a bonfire (weather permitting) and musicians are welcome to bring whatever instrument they want to add to the mix. Songs are shared and music is made! It’s a wonderful experience.
More awesomeness that may very well make you want to visit the Rock Garden: