I did more than just drink moonshine on my recent trip to the Hocking Hills region of Ohio. One of the stops my group made on the tour was to the Columbus Washboard Factory in Logan, Ohio, for a quick, family-friendly tour.

The only manufacturer of washboards left in the United States, this factory — with fewer than 10 employees — makes functional, musical and decorative washboards. The methods to assemble the washboards are a bit more modern than when the operation first started in 1895, but each one is still assembled individually by hand, made with wood grown locally in Ohio.

A tour doesn’t take much time, but it’s worth stopping to visit this last-of-its-kind factory for a history lesson and some fun. You’ll learn about the evolution of washboards and why there are metal surfaces and glass surfaces. You’ll be invited to try your hand at being a washboard musician. If your experience is anything like mine, halfway through your mini-concert you’ll find yourself moving to the rhythm with a big smile on your face. And, you’ll discover how useful washboards still are.

Who still uses washboards for washing?

  • Apartment dwellers and others who don’t have easy access to laundry facilities
  • Travelers (the small size can fit into a carry-on bag)
  • Campers
  • Anyone who wants to work on a tough stain before putting something in the washing a machine
  • Soldiers
Sending washboards and accessories to soldiers is a service that Columbus Washboard Factory provides through its Troop Donation Kit. Since 2004, they’ve collected enough donations to send more than 4,000 washboard kits to overseas military personnel. With a donation of $25 (the factory’s cost), a kit is sent to a deployed soldier so he or she can do laundry when no laundry facilities exist. The kit includes a washboard, a washtub, a clothesline, clothespins, three bars of soap and foot powder. The donation covers the cost of shipping. 

Guided tours of the factory are available from May through October, weekdays at 10, noon and 2; Saturdays at 11:30 and 1. General admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for kids 18 and under, and free for active military.

If you're in the area, each year there's a free Washboard Music Festival in Logan. Festivities typically include several bands playing jug band and Cajun music, free rides and entertainment for the kids, as well as a car show, antique tractor show and plenty of food vendors. Musicians of all ages play at this festival. Forward the video below to about the :55 mark to see a boy take the rhythmic lead on stage.

If you go: The Columbus Washboard Factory is located at 14 Gallagher Ave. Logan, Ohio 43138. (740) 380-3828.

Related on MNN:

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.