New Bremen Historical Sites and Museums
The Village of New Bremen has a fascinating history that dates back to the 1830’s, when ships sailed regularly from the German city of Bremen to America. After landing in Baltimore, Maryland, many German immigrants chose to travel inland to Cincinnati.
Many of New Bremen’s founders, made up mostly of Bavarians and Hanovarians, followed this route. When the first settlers arrived in Cincinnati on July 23, 1832, they formed a group called The City of Bremen Society and drew up a charter among its 33 members, authorizing the purchase of 80 acres of land in Ohio to found a Protestant town.
The first farming community was established here in 1832, and on June 11, 1833, the plat of “Bremen”, as it was first called, was officially recorded, with 102 lots to be distributed by lottery. The rest is history—history that you can explore.
Take a quick tour through some of our history by visiting the historical sites below. You can also learn more about New Bremen’s past through the New Bremen Historic Association.
New Bremen’s Historical Museum is one of the oldest existing houses in town. It dates back to the 1830s, when it was used as a residence and a shop.
The plain symmetrical design of the windows and doors, the random board ceilings, the front stairway and the house’s position adjacent to the sidewalk represent the German heritage of our town’s early settlers. The frontier materials and methods are crude while the style is reminiscent of the “land of the Rhine.”
Through the years, it has painstakingly been restored to its original “look” thanks to volunteer efforts and community donations. Once you step inside, you’ll be transported to a bygone era captured between hand-hewn timbers.
The museum is run by the New Bremen Historic Association, a non-profit organization with a tradition of preserving the history that has been passed down from generation to generation.
The museum is located across the street from the post office at 120 N. Main St. For visiting hours, visit newbremenhistory.org.
In the mid-1800s, Ohio settlers and businessmen alike poured through the canal system that criss-crossed the state. New Bremen was one stop on the Miami-Erie Canal and the Lockkeepers House still stands to this day.
In the visitor’s center you can view historical artifacts and learn about the importance of the canal system. Step outside and see for yourself how the lock could raise or lower a canal barge to continue on down the canal with a restored concrete water control structure.
Canal barges no longer make their way down the canal path that runs next to the Lockkeepers House. However, visitors can enjoy walking, biking or nature watching along the once-vital waterway.
The Lockkeepers House is currently home to the Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce and New Bremen Foundation. It’s located next door to Komminsk Legacy Park at 22 S. Water St. and is open weekdays from 9 – 11 a.m. and 1 – 5 p.m.
Miami Erie Canal
The building of the Miami and Erie Canal and the Grand Reservoir brought to the frontier people of New Bremen their first commercial work, and opened a market for agricultural products.
New Bremen became a busy, bustling town after the canal was completed. Hundreds of 60-and 80-ton freight boats traveled up and down the canal. Passenger boats carrying 40-50 people made the trip to Cincinnati in a day and a night.
Remnants of the canal run through the center of the village. To learn more about the canal, visit the Lockkeepers House or enjoy a walk along the canal path.
Miami and Erie Canal Facts
A survey was made in 1822 and construction started on July 25, 1825, near Middletown.
Construction ran until 1845.
Total costs rose to $8,062,680 and were financed by the sale of land granted by the government and by the issuance of bonds.
New Bremen had several hotels and boarding facilities to accommodate the canal workers.
The village also became known for its pork packing industry during this era.
The canal was 248.8 miles in length and rose to a summit of 512 feet above the Ohio River level.
Cities and towns along its route were:
Cincinnati, Hamilton, Middletown, Franklin, Miamisburg, Dayton, Tippecanoe, Troy, Piqua, Minster, New Bremen, St. Marys, Delphos, Defiance, Toledo.
The peak year of operation was 1851 when revenue was $351,897.
Approximately 400 boats were operating at that time.
Operation of the canal continued in some degree through 1913, when a massive flood permanently damaged many facilities.
The Miami & Erie Canal Corridor Association (MECCA) is headquartered in New Bremen and works to preserve and enhance the canal corridor.
The Bicycle Museum of America
The Bicycle Museum of America has more than 300 bikes on display and more than 1,000 in rotation. This makes it one of the largest private collections of bicycles in the world.
For a more comprehensive experience, you can visit the museum and take a guided tour or explore the collection on your own.
The museum is located at 7 W. Monroe St.
The “Bowstring” cast-and-wrought-iron truss bridge, also known as the Moulton Angle Road Bridge from its previous location northeast of New Bremen, is an exceptional historic bridge.
Built in 1864 as part of a three span bridge over the Auglaize River in Wapakoneta, it was moved in 1894 to the Moulton Angle Road near New Knoxville. It is the oldest bowstring bridge in Ohio and one of 74 iron bowstring bridges known to exist. This bridge type was well-suited to short highway and canal spans, and has been inventoried by the National Park Service’s Historic American Engineering Record (HAER).
Until 1984, the Bowstring Bridge was used as a short highway bridge. After being moved to New Bremen, it was narrowed to use as a canal span. It was designed by David H. Morrison, founder of the Columbia Bridge Company, Dayton, Ohio. Its preservation was spearheaded by local residents who recognized its rarity. Now it is used as a shortcut between Komminsk Legacy Park and the library area, crossing the Miami and Erie Canal.