The Story of Ernest “Mooney” Warther

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Who is Ernest Warther?  Very few people could probably answer that question without using their internet search.  Born on October 30, 1885 in a one room schoolhouse in Dover, Ohio as the youngest of five children, he learn the value of hard work after his father passed away when he was three years old leaving his mother alone with the five children.  His first job was herding cows for one cent a cow which gave him the nickname ‘Mooney’.  While walking through the field, he discovered an old rusty pocket knife.

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This old rusty pocket knife changed his life forever.

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He began carving things out of wood, and through the years, he became a master of carving many great works.  Dropping out of school in the second grade, he went to work at a sheet and tin mill to help support his already struggling family, but he continued carving.  His hobby would become his masterpiece.  He was known as the ‘World’s Master Carver’, a title that was given to him in the 1920’s by the Passion Carvers of Oberammergau.

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Today, you can visit the Warther Carving Museum in Dover, Ohio.  You can stroll through the exhibits and see his great works of which there are many.  After looking around, you will have a great appreciation for Earnest Warther.

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Some of you are saying, “That is amazing.  A boy finds a knife and starts carving, and he gets good at it.  He even gets his stuff put into a museum.  Yippee!  There are millions of people who carve things and get their stuff into a museum.  He may sound like a great guy, but my interest is railroads.  Therefore, you will most likely see ‘me’ getting ‘farther’ away from the ‘Warther’ Museum.”

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Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time for you to get to know a man named Ernest Warther.

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As mentioned, Ernest Warther was a master carver who carved many great works in his workshop, and his works are on display in the museum.  He did have another great hobby.  However, we must mention his greatest disappointment.  What was his greatest disappointment?  The greatest disappointment that Ernest Warther had was the end of the steam locomotive.  Yes, folks.  His second hobby was watching the steam locomotives go by, and he carved the steam locomotive more than anything else, and you will have plenty of steam locomotives on display in the museum.

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Some of you are saying, “That is great.  A man carved steam locomotives.  You know?  There are people in my neighborhood that carve steam locomotives, and I have been to art shows where people have carved out steam locomotives.  This is nothing new.  There is no reason to visit this museum when I can see the exact same thing at my local art show.  Besides, I will save gas by not visiting this museum.”

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You have a very great point.  There are many steam locomotives have been carved out of wood, and you can visit your local art show or art museum to see them.  Therefore, it would not be worth your time to visit the Warther Carving Museum.  The one question that you must ask is when you see these carved locomotives at these art shows, how many of these locomotives can operate on tracks if you built tracks for them?

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Some of you are astounded by the question.

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What makes Ernest Warther’s carvings different is that he not only carved out the steam locomotive, but that on some of those carvings he created moving parts.  You have read correctly.  When carving the locomotive, he carved out the wheels and the shaft so that they could move like an actual working locomotive.  The shaft moves the large wheels and even the bell moves although it has no sound.  Does your local art fair have that?

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As you enter the parking lot for the museum, you will see a red caboose from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad that you can actually enter and look around.  There is also a steam engine, a hand car and the old Dover telegraph office.  As you walk up to the museum, you will enter the garden, and you will walk across a bridge that is designed with the floor as a railroad track.  This Swiss style garden was designed by his wife, Frieda.  In this design she used raised beds like the gardens in Switzerland, and she created the garden for everyone to enjoy.

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The Warther Carving Museum houses the work of Ernest Carver, and the museum remains in the ownership of the Warther family.  The museum consists of Ernest Wather’s carvings, his workshop where he did all of his carvings, the home of Ernest and Frieda, a garden, the park featuring the railroad displays and a gazebo and a display of Frieda’s button collection.  You can also look inside the knife factory where knives are made, and you can stroll through the gift shop where you can buy a knife that was made in the factory.  By the way, the park is next to an active railroad line, and you may be fortunate enough to see a passing train.

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The Warther Carving Museum is located at 331 Karl Avenue in Dover, Ohio.  The entrance to the museum is at the intersection of Tuscarawas Avenue (Ohio Route 211) and Slingluff Avenue.  It is just west of the interchange with Interstate 77, U.S. 250 and Ohio Route 39.  The museum is open seven days a week all year round from 9:00am to 5:00pm.  (10:00am to 4:00pm in January and February.)  You can go to www.thewarthermuseum.com you get information about admission and to read more into the life of Ernest Warther and to watch a video of him carving and working on one of the steam locomotives.  Be warned.  The more you read, the more you will want to visit.

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The next time someone tells you that they have seen a locomotive carved out of wood, tell them to visit the Warther Carver Museum where they can see a real locomotive carved out of wood.

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