Day Trippin': Dogwood Pass
Take a drive 90 minutes south of Columbus to Dogwood Pass and you might think you've traveled much farther. This replica of a bygone Wild West town aims to transport visitors back to the 1800s with old-fashioned entertainment for all ages.
Owners Mike and Sharlene Montgomery built Dogwood Pass on his family's farm outside Beaver in Pike County. He started in 2010 with a saloon, built as a place for family and friends to hang out. “After two years, we decided it didn't look right by itself so [we] built a jail, then a bank, and we kept right on building,” he said. “After we had four buildings up, we had a benefit for a little girl with cystic fibrosis. Some of my buddies dressed up like cowboys, and the public came to this fundraiser. Well, about a year later we decided to open it up to the public.”
Since then, the Montgomerys haven't looked back. They left full-time jobs to manage Dogwood Pass and said they enjoy every minute of it. “I was born and raised on this farm, and we decided to make a run at it. The buildings are furnished like they would have been in the 1880s, and everyone really seems to enjoy it,” Montgomery said.
In addition to two saloons, a jail and a bank, Dogwood Pass' other buildings include a mercantile, a photographer, a bakery, a chapel, a dressmaker, a stable and a mining company. There's also the Dogwood Pass Roy Rogers Museum, with memorabilia honoring actors Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
Visitors can tour the buildings and see live shows staged by re-enactors. Admission is $10, free for children ages 6 and younger. For another $5, children can participate in gem mining (bring a bag or buy one for $1) and be led around the town square on horseback. Food vendors offer fare such as hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, bison burgers, baked goods and ice cream.
The town square hosts Wild West shows staged by a rotating cast of 30 to 50 re-enactors, some of whom travel from out of state. Performances range from five to 40 minutes and often include hired guns, horses and shootouts. Bad guys abound, to the delight of the crowd. “The best time to come for the re-enactors and the shows is the special events like Dogwood after Dark, the first Saturday of the month,” Montgomery said. “I play Wild Bill Hickock, and Sharlene plays Calamity Jane.
“Wyatt Earp comes all the way from Indiana, and Doc Holliday comes from German Village in Columbus. They come here to volunteer to play these characters because they really enjoy it. It's like a playground for them,” Montgomery said.
Sonya Avery, who plays the dressmaker, comes from Wheelersburg, 20 minutes away. She is a history lover who enjoys coming to Dogwood Pass. “My husband and I were Civil War re-enactors, and when we decided to stop that hobby I thought I would donate his shirts here. When I saw this, I decided to volunteer here and so I come here every weekend and festival.”
“I modeled this town in my head like an old mining town, the way I would picture it to be,” Montgomery said. “I grew up training horses and it all stemmed from that. I've always been a cowboy at heart.”
722 Adams Road, Beaver
Dogwood Pass is open Thursdays through Sundays, from April through September. Visitors can tour the town between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., with shows at 1:30 and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. (Always call ahead because event rentals can change operating hours.)
During Dogwood after Dark (held on the first Saturday of the month), hours are 6-10 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m. Multiple shows are featured; characters interact with guests and are available for pictures.
Horror at Dogwood Pass, held Fridays and Saturdays in October, turns the attraction into a 45-minute haunted trail.
Christmas at Dogwood Pass, which takes place on weekends in December, features holiday lights and visits by the Grinch and Santa Claus.