Feature of the Month - Dec. 2012



Fort Saint Clair



Fort St. Clair was a regular and militia troops fort under General James Wilkinson, who built the supply post and defensive fortification in March 1792 in preparation for General “Mad Anthony” Wayne’s campaign against the Indians of the Northwest Territory, following disastrous expeditions in 1790 and 1791. Built near a “fine spring gushing out of the bank,” the 120-foot square palisade fort had a four-sided bastion at each corner. Future U.S. president William Henry Harrison served in the detachment that built the fort. On November 6, 1792, Miami Chief Little Turtle and approximately 200 warriors attacked a force of Kentucky militia under Major John Adair camped outside the fort. Six Kentuckians and an unknown number of Indians died in the skirmish. The fallen soldiers were buried fifty paces west of the fort, beneath, the “Whispering Oak.

In 1921, the first Preble County Historical Society was organized to plan a park at the site of Fort Saint Clair, to reclaim historical lands, and offer a chance to the young people of Preble County to acquaint them with early local history. Thru the earnest efforts of Major William H. Ortt, who gave liberally of his time, effort, and money, a monument was erected at the site of the old fort bearing a bronze tablet, commemorating the historic battle on the 130th anniversary on November 6, 1922.


In 1923, the State of Ohio, in cooperation with the Preble County Historical Society (1921-1935), established Fort St. Clair State Memorial on 77 acres which included the original site of the fort. In 1933, 12 additional acres were acquired by the local historical society and deeded to the state.

The additional acreage, on the park’s west side, makes up the nature preserve which is forested by large beech, sugar maple and slippery elm trees with a profusion of would undergrowth and woodland flowers. This part of the park was given to the state with the stipulation that the area remain in its primitive state as an example of the forests which covered the land when the fort was built.

The historical area lies to the south. The major point of historical Significance is the site of the fort. To the west of the fort site is a small fenced enclosure, in which are the graves of the six men who fell in the battle on November 6, 1792. A large white oak tree stands by the graveyard and legend has it that when the wind rustles through the leaves of the tree, one can hear the story of the events that it witnessed. The tree, called “The Whispering Oak”, was designated a Bicentennial Tree by the National Arborists” Association and the International Society of Arboriculture in February 1976.

The recreation area lies in the northern section of the north, separated from the historical area by Garrison Branch creek and a steep bank. Shelter houses, picnic tables, playground equipment, and restrooms are available in the area.

In 1992, The Ohio Historical Society deeded Fort Saint Clair Park to the City of Eaton and, thus, it is no longer a state memorial. The park is situated on Eaton’s west side at the intersection of SR 122 and 355.

Fort St. Clair Park is open April-October during daylight hours.

Picnic Shelters can be reserved for use by calling the City of Eaton office: 937-456-4125.

The Whispering Christmas Committee decorates the park with thousands of holiday lights. The park is open the Friday after Thanksgiving for a drive through visit in conjunction with Downtown Eaton, Inc’s White Christmas Festivities in Historic Downtown Eaton.

Fort St. Clair Park is located at 135 Camden Road, Eaton, is open December 1-31 from 6-10 pm each day for viewing the beautiful light spectacular. The cabins are open through December 24 with volunteer groups serving hot chocolate and cookies to visitors in the Santa Cabin. Santa arrives for a visit each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and the entire week prior to Christmas, starting at approximately 7:00 p.m.  There is no admission charge, donations are welcome. For more information: www.cityofeaton.org

The Whispering Oak  The Battlefield 
Panoramic view of the battlefield  Fort St. Clair Historical Marker 
Historical entrance to Fort St. Clair Park, circa 1920  Statue on the grounds of the park 





Preble County is rich in Ohio history and Fort Saint Clair is just one example of the importance of Our County during the turbulent past when this was still a wild and unpredictable area.

Whether you are taking a relaxing walk through the park, or here during the holiday season to see the fantastic display of lights, Fort Saint Clair is a beautiful place to be. Know that when you are here, you are walking in the footsteps of a rich Ohio history. Just one more reason to come to Preble County! Click the button on the right to download/print the article about the history of Fort Saint Clair.

Preble County...


From golf to ghost hunting, from a covered bridge to an antique mall, from a warm and cozy bed to a night in a tent, from dining in a state park lodge to pizza at a local restaurant, Preble County has something for everyone!  Visit Preble County!  You'll be glad you did!