WYSO Curious

Are you curious about the Miami Valley, its history, people or economy? Is there a place, a person or a story that mystifies or intrigues you? Do you like to ask questions? WYSO Curious is an occasional series that lets you ask questions for WYSO reporters to answer. Submit your own question below!


WYSO Curious is a partner of Hearken, founded by Jennifer Brandel.

Hear WYSO's Lewis Wallace discuss the growing Curious family with Jenn Brandel and Curious City editor Shawn Allee.

The low-lying Serpent Mound winds over a hilltop in souther Ohio, and you can't quite see the head from the tail.
Ann Merrill / Flickr/Creative Commons

The Serpent Mound in Adams County is probably the most famous of Ohio’s many sacred earthworks constructed by prehistoric Native American peoples.

As part of our series WYSO Curious, which lets you ask questions we answer on air and online, Barbara Bayliff of Dayton wrote in to say this:

I am curious about the Serpent Mounds! Is there spiritual power there? What do they mean? How old are they?

James Hicks is the Bearded Barber.
Lewis Wallace / WYSO

WYSO Curious, our series where you ask the questions and our reporters answer them, is at it again, this time with a question that might seem clear-cut:

Who is the Bearded Barber?

Kroger in Huber Heights. Experts say if customers show they are willing to drive a few miles to a suburban location, it takes away the incentive for chains to build in limited downtown space. grocery store food
Nicholas Eckhart / Flickr/Creative Commons

There’s a lot going on in downtown Dayton: in some ways, it’s growing. Housing is being built or redeveloped, and small retail and restaurant businesses are taking root. In other ways, it’s struggling, with around a 30 percent vacancy rate for office buildings and a high rate of tax delinquency, including in some high-profile empty buildings like the Arcade.

Nancy Horlacher looks through her collection of frequently asked questions in the Local History Room at the Dayton Metro Library. "Gem City of Ohio: Exact origin unknown."
Lauren Shows / WYSO

“Gem City” — that phrase should sound familiar to most people in the Miami Valley.

A quick glance into the Yellow Pages, or a quick Google search, reveals a list of several dozen Dayton-area groups and businesses that use the name. But what’s that nickname for Dayton all about? Two WYSO listeners, Dot Schnering and Gary Honnert, recently asked the question:

Why do they call Dayton the Gem City?

Will Davis / WYSO

Some people are morning people, even on the weekends: They might like, for example, getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays to head down to their local farmers’ market. WYSO listener Gabrielle Civil is not one of those people. She lives in Yellow Springs, where the farmers’ market runs from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. And she had a question about that:

This is WYSO Curious and my question is, why so early? Why is the farmers’ market over by noon?

Lewis Wallace / WYSO

John Patterson, Edward Deeds, and Wilbur and Orville Wright are just a few of the big names from a time when Dayton was a hotbed of innovation and invention. These famous names prompted a question from WYSO listener Susan Thornton:

“Why did Dayton produce so many inventors—for example, Charles Kettering, the Wright Brothers, the pop top can inventor?”

Yellow Springs resident Joseph Minde-Berman (right) plays music at street fairs for spare cash. He's pictured with his friend Corbin Rogers, also of Yellow Springs.
Lewis Wallace / WYSO

Strawberries, sauerkraut, asparagus, popcorn, beans, bacon and moonshine—aside from usually being edible, what do they all have in common?

Dayton's Oregon District
Jerry Kenney / WYSO

Dayton’s Oregon Historic District has a controversial aspect to it: the sound of the word. Unlike the state of Oregon, the end of which is pronounced like “begin", the proper noun used by Daytonians is pronounced Oregon—with an ending that rhymes with John. Dayton resident Jesse Clark asked WYSO Curious—why?

Why is it called the OreGON District? Why don’t we pronounce it the same way people do in Oregon state?

Jesse says he’s been trying to answer the question for quite some time.

This 1855 atlas of Greene County (reprinted in 1979 by the Greene County Historical Society) shows the road that became Indian Ripple before it was formally named.
courtesy of Nancy Campbell

When Converse Griffith’s question, How did Indian Ripple road get its name? won our April WYSO Curious vote, the investigation seemed simple enough.  This question and subsequent questions about the difference between Indian Ripple and Indian Riffle, an older name for the road, turned out to be quite a mystery for the local and statewide experts we consulted. Not many clear records exist, but we’ve been able to draw several conclusions.

Lewis Wallace / WYSO

In just a few months, WYSO Curious has gotten four questions about the same topic: that bright blue lake off of Route 4 in Dayton.

John Todd of Fairborn was the first to write in to our site: