Sunday, July 15, 2012

RickOHIO Revisited: The Ohio Thruway?

This is a web column written before blogs were blogs at  This July 1997 column is revived for publication. It was first published 15 years ago on this date. I failed to disclose back then that my late father was Executive Director of the New York State Thruway at that time. 

The Ohio Thruway?
by RickOHIO

July 1997 [UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 1999]

In the early 1980's, a first-term Ohio State Senator from Southwest Ohio championed a piece of legislation through the Ohio General Assembly that mandated Ohio county stickers be a part of Ohio's license plates. It's just trivia that that little-known state senator is now well-known U.S. Senator Mike DeWine.

DeWine never intended his county stickers to be anything more than a tool for law enforcement officials to more readily identify vehicles' owners. Today, though, those little stickers have many uses. Oxford, Ohio police use them to distinquish "locals" from visitors and students when issuing parking tickets around Miami University. An entire web site is devoted to a game--The Great Ohio License Plate Hunt--in Chicago.

Drivers and passengers find identifying those little stickers on the highway to be a great way to pass time on a long trip. It was such a use of time that came my way Sunday, July 6 while returning to Ohio from a trip in Upstate New York over Independence Day.

Interstate 90, between Albany and the Pennsylvania line is the New York State Thruway. Any Ohioan who ventures outside the state to destinations in New York, New England, or Niagara Falls uses this stretch of highway, or part of it, to get there and home. From east to west, the highway passes through Rochester and Syracuse on its way to Buffalo. It passes near Lake Erie and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

At least this weekend, believe it or not, there were no orange barrels blocking traffic. That fact alone made it worth the $10.55 in tolls.

The Thruway is no stranger to Ohioans. During this particular afternoon drive, a total of 29 different Ohio counties were identified. Ohio seemed to dominate the license plates. Many counties repeated.

It seems there are so many Ohioans here, you have to ask, "Who's highway is this anyway?"

The closest Ohio county to the Thruway is Ashtabula. There was only one of those though. The farthest-away county, Hamilton County, was on the list though too.

Ohio's most populous county, Cuyahoga, probably had the most. Though, Lake County was a close second. All the largest counties, except Lucas County, made an appearance on the Thruway. The smallest population county represented would have been Coshocton County.

A personalized plate, actually quite a rare thing for Ohioans, bore the name "CALLER" and chalked one up for Stark County.

A bad driver who sat in the left lane for a long time was driving on the highway with Lorain County plates. Somebody from Franklin County kept flicking their cigarette butts out the window while they drove in front of my Oldsmobile for a dozen miles.

The six-hour trip from Albany, though, was made shorter by this strange little game. Try it some time. Like me, you'll find that the New York State Thruway is really the Ohio Thruway.


Ohio Counties Seen By RickOHIO

On The Thruway July 6, 1997
in order of appearance


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