Although Loudonville is now known as the "Canoe Capital of Ohio," it once held the moniker "The Switzerland of Ohio."
Sugarcreek, Ohio is of course now known as "The Little Switzerland of Ohio" but it unclear when they began identifying as such ... nor when Loudonville stopped.
In 1940, a large new billboard was installed on Route 3, east of town. An even earlier billboard was installed in 1937 much farther north, on Route 42 north of Medina, by the Loudonville Chamber of Commerce.
A newspaper report described the sign: "It is done in colors, and very substantially erected, facing west-bound traffic on the highway. If a driver can't see that sign his license ought to be rescinded! The background of the billboard is yellow. The name, 'Loudonville' which is billboard long and in astonishingly high letters, is painted in black, with red shading. The population figures are white, with a black background, and the other two lines are long and prominent in lettering."
The Chamber of Commerce commissioned both signs, and while it is unknown who painted the Route 3 billboard, A.B. McCaskey was the artist behind the Route 42 version.
As for the "Switzerland of Ohio" inspiration ... especially in 1940?
"Some home-owners have asked: ' What do they mean by 'Switzerland of Ohio?' Such questioners register signs of fright, the idea perhaps stirring minds as to the present situation in Switzerland where bombs drop over the line occasionally and where parachutists oozes down now and then.
"The answer: There are no bombs, either way you spell it, and no dangers in this 'Switzerland of Ohio,' the term being used merely to stress the great natural scenic beauty of the zone of which Loudonville is the center."
Another reporter expanded on that notion: "Civic leaders in Loudonville, with which the town is blessed liberally, don't want the hundreds of motorists who travel the state's busiest highway to approach the best village in Ohio without being duly advised of the experience they are about to have."
More information on the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum can be found at this link.