Akron, Ohio is the original North Pole…
Nestled away in the corner of Lock 3 sits the Akron Toy & Marble Museum. Many in Akron have no idea that this little museum exists and more importantly, why it’s located at Lock 3. When Akronites think of Lock 3, they think of live entertainment, an ice skating rink and First Night, or maybe even the weekly farmers market during the summer. And fewer actually know that Lock 3 and the city of Akron could very well be the original North Pole.
It’s said that when you dig a hole anywhere in Akron you will probably find a marble. I can personally attest that I have found several marbles while digging on my property in Akron, so it’s true. So why are marbles so prevalent in Akron and what does it all have to do with the North Pole?
“Only the very wealthiest could afford to buy a toy that was handmade. This meant that only the sons and daughters of the wealthiest people could have toys, and the rest of the children they might play with a stick or a stone or piece of discarded rope.” explains Michael Cohill of The Akron Toy & Marble Company, who has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to marbles, toys and the history of Akron. He is a natural storyteller and loves to share his stories about Akron while knuckling down in a game of marbles.
Mass production of marbles started in Akron Ohio, making it affordable for children to buy toys in the United States. Cohill informs us that, “in the early 1880s in Akron Ohio, a gentleman named Samuel Dyke found a way to mass produce toys. And those first toys that were mass produced were marbles.”
AmericanToyMarbles.com states, “In total, our research has identified almost 100 toy companies that operated within the greater Akron.” This means that throughout the years the hard work and labor of Akron produced affordable toys for the entire world. So, without Akron and its rich history in the mass production of toys, there would not be toys for all children of the world, regardless of their families’ income level.
But there is more evidence to help build the case that Akron, Ohio is the original North Pole. Lock 3 was once the home to American Marble & Toy Manufacturing Co., and they created millions of toys from 1891 to 1904 until it was ravaged by a fire. During archaeological excavations in the late 1990s, before Lock 3 existed, thousands of marbles and various other toys were found and are now on exhibit at the museum for public viewing.
Among all of the various toys, a small wizard-like toy was found. It had a blue robe, with a white beard standing with hands held together on his stomach. After researching for years, Cohill realized that “this little Santa is the oldest, three dimensional image of Santa Claus that is known to exist.”
Now this is where the story gets interesting. Not only is Akron responsible for first mass produced toys, but it’s also home to the oldest know three dimensional Santa Claus in existence. Cohill makes a very interesting observation and you can go see it all for yourself at the Akron Toy and Marble Museum at Lock 3 Akron. Check out their website for more information at www.americantoymarbles.com.
For more information on who made the Blue Santa and why he was blue, check out the mini documentary film on The Blue Santa below.