On the Road with Charles Kuralt

By Charlie Zimkus

On November 14, 1975, the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite aired a report from newsman Charles Kuralt about The Golden Lamb. The four-minute, black-and-white spot was part of Kuralt’s "On the Road" series of stories about America.

The following is a written transcript:

Walter Cronkite: “When Sherwood Anderson created the fictional Winesburg, Ohio he used a hotel, the new Willard House, as a focal point of his stories about the everyday people of his native state. When Charles Kuralt went On the Road to ’76 to paint his Bicentennial Portrait of Ohio, he too found a hotel rich with stories.”

Charles Kuralt: “Start the music box in the lobby of The Golden Lamb and think about Ohio’s past. No place evokes that past so well, at least for me, as this old hotel in this old town –– The Golden Lamb at the crossroads in Lebanon.

If you took a stagecoach north from Cincinnati, Lebanon’s the town you’d get to just at dark. That’s why Henry Clay stopped at The Golden Lamb so often on his way from Kentucky to Washington during those years when he was trying to find a compromise that would prevent the Civil War.

A canal used to lead to Lebanon also. That’s what brought Dewitt Clinton, the statesman and philanthropist, in 1825, to help plan the canals that would lead to Lake Erie and the Atlantic, and end Ohio’s isolation from the world.

Mark Twain came by train, and he too climbed the hill to find a warm toddy and soft pillow at the old inn that stood, and stands, a block from the train station.

‘Home, Sweet Home’ is the tune the music box plays. And The Golden Lamb has been that to travelers every day, and every night, since it opened in 1815, a dozen years after Ohio became the first state to be carved out of the Northwest Territory. It was already a 60-year-old inn when Lebanon celebrated the nation’s centennial, 100 years ago. The local weekly, The Western Star, reported that The Golden Lamb was the center of all the fireworks, and hangovers, of the celebration.

If only a man could have lived long enough, he could have sat here, in the front room of The Golden Lamb, and — glancing up once in awhile — watched the whole history of Ohio pass by these windows.

The boys marching past on their way home after helping Commodore Perry lick the British up to Lake Erie.

The boys assembling in the side-yard on their way to help Gen. Grant lick the Confederates.

Here, people from a small Ohio town sat, and rocked, and talked about events of the world.

‘Look here. Did you see Napoleon got wiped at Waterloo?’

‘Pass the rolls, please, George.’

‘What do you think of Hayes’ chances against Tilden?’

And, in time, the world came calling. Charles Dickens dropped by on his grumpy tour around America on 1842. He pronounced The Golden Lamb’s coffee detestable, . . .and its tea worse, . . . and he ordered a brandy. But this was a temperance house back then, and the innkeeper of the time, Calvin Bradley, informed him that liquor wasn’t served. The great novelist was appalled, and when he wrote about the incident later he suggested that abstentious innkeepers, like Mr. Bradley, should totally abstain ... from inn keeping.

Washington never slept here. But John Quincy Adams did. Martin Van Buren did. And all eight of Ohio’s presidents: both Harrisons, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, McKinley, Taft, Harding. The old hotel just waited patiently at the crossroads of this quiet village, and the busy world came to it.

‘Home, Sweet Home.’

All those Ohio presidents are gone now. Henry Clay and Charles Dickens have been in their graves for 100 years and more, but the inn, where they stopped for the night remains. The story doesn’t end. The shutters are still open, and Ohio’s history is still passing on the stagecoach road outside.

Charles Kuralt, CBS News, On the Road to ‘76 in Ohio.”

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CBS PHOTOS
Charles Kuralt profiled Lebanon’s Golden Lamb in an installment of his popular ”On the Road“ series of stories about America.
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Screenshots from the ”On the Road“ segment