The Johnny Appleseed Story in Fort Wayne Indiana

It took a visit to Fort Wayne Indiana to remind me that Johnny Appleseed was a real person. You know who I’m talking about — the barefoot character of folklore who we envision wandering North America in tattered clothes with a bag of apple seeds over his shoulder, enthusiastically tossing and sowing seeds wherever the path should lead.

Johnny Appleseed’s story ended in Fort Wayne in 1845. He is buried here, but Johnny Appleseed is very much alive in Fort Wayne Indiana.

Johnny Appleseed gravesite in Fort Wayne Iniana

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Who Was Johnny Appleseed Anyway?

His real name was John Chapman and he was born in Massachusetts. But at an early age, Johnny Appleseed showed a fascination with the environment, trees and apples in particular. He was also a Christian missionary and a smart business person.

Johnny Appleseed mascot in Fort Wayne IndianaWhile we have mental images from childhood stories of Johnny Appleseed throwing seeds here and there, he actually planted orchards and sold the seedling trees for 3¢ each. Pioneers would take a few seedlings on their westward journey and eventually plant them in a new territory.

Johnny Appleseed developed nurseries throughout  Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. The nursery outside of Fort Wayne was said to have been his biggest with about 15,000 little apple trees.

Schools in Massachusetts and Ohio carry his name. Urbana Ohio is home to a Johnny Appleseed Museum.

But Fort Wayne Indiana has the Tincaps, a minor league baseball team named for the tin cap that Johnny wore. The story goes that his tin cap doubled as a cooking pot.

And, you know. Why not? The practicality of placing cookware on your head just makes a lot of sense. I think it would keep your head drier in a rain storm than many other types of head wear.



The Fort Wayne Indiana Tincaps

Banner for Fort Wayne Tincaps

The Fort Wayne Tincaps are a minor league team affiliated with the San Diego Padres. The stadium is called Parkview Field because that’s the name of the local health system and they paid for the naming rights.

But wouldn’t it be so cool for the stadium to be called The Apple Orchard? That would be a fun part of the Johnny Appleseed story in Fort Wayne.

Actually, The Orchard is the name of the team store. We stopped in at The Orchard and Bruce bought a shirt.

The Orchard, the team store for the Fort Wayne Tincaps

We visited the stadium in downtown Fort Wayne on an off-day. The Tincaps were playing elsewhere. But we loved that the stadium was open to the public anyway and the community was taking advantage of this beautiful resource.

Baseball field for the Fort Wayne TincapsIt was a pleasant summer day and locals were working on their laptops from bistro tables. Others were reading books in the stadium seats and sunning in the grassy picnic grounds.

We watched with admiration as a couple in much better shape than us ran up and down the stairs and around the concourse. FYI — the young woman was kicking the guy’s butt.

Baseball in the hotel in Fort Wayne Indiana

But this was our favorite part of the ballpark where the Fort Wayne Tincaps play:

The exterior wall of the Hampton Inn and Suites adjacent to the outfield appears to have been smacked by an out of the park home run.

Isn’t that fun!

It’s just a mural, but a great optical illusion created by a local Fort Wayne artist named Tim Parsley. The rooftop bar would be another fun place to watch the game.

Beyond the Johnny Appleseed Story in Fort Wayne

Public art in downtown Fort Wayne Indiana The city of Fort Wayne has more than 100 miles of biking trails that, from what we witnessed, the community takes full advantage of. Several hotels offer bikes at no charge for their guests.

We had a fabulous lunch at a local craft brewery called the Hoppy Gnome after we had wandered the downtown streets enjoying the architecture and public art. The Art Museum had a excellent glass exhibit underway when we visited and the Botanical Conservatory was getting a face lift. DeBrand’s Fine Chocolate is a local favorite that we supported to the best of our abilities.

Fort Wayne is a nice day trip from Indianapolis or a fun weekend getaway from Chicago, Detroit and other great Midwestern cities. Come when the Tincaps are home for some minor league fun.

And while you are there, pay your respects to the legendary Johnny Appleseed. The Johnny Appleseed Festival is always the third weekend in September. Johnny Appleseed Day is September 26, which was his birth date in 1774.

Fountains in downtown Fort Wayne Indiana

Tip: For another great Indiana sports destination, head south to the charming community of French Lick. But if apples are your thing, head west to Nebraska, the home of Arbor Day.

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