Tap Into History With Maple Syrup Program at Oglebay

Photo Provided Guests at Oglebay Institute’s Maple Sugaring Day will see maple syrup being made, experience the history of maple syrup production at stations along the trails of Oglebay and taste real maple syrup with a pancake breakfast. Pictured is Greg Park, retired Oglebay Institute naturalist, with a school group during a maple sugaring field trip program.

WHEELING — Every year, the majestic stands of maples in the Oglebay woods are tapped for sap that is harvested and then boiled down into syrup. On Saturday, the Oglebay Institute Schrader Environmental Education Center staff will celebrate the harvest and educate families about syrup production through the years, from the earliest Americans, to colonists to today. The tour through the woods is followed by a pancake breakfast featuring Oglebay’s maple syrup inside Camp Russel.

Tours take place every half hour from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the last tour leaving at 12:30 p.m. Schrader Center naturalists lead guests through the woods, stopping several times for interpretive presentations. They will hear how Native Americans discovered this “sweet water” and the methods they used to harvest it. They will be introduced to colonial methods of sap tapping and try drilling holes with old-fashioned bits and braces. They will see how wooden taps, known as spiles, were made to allow sap to flow from tree to bucket. They will learn about current pipeline techniques and watch how maple sap is boiled down into syrup, while socializing around a boiling sap evaporator.

Maple sugaring was once an integral part of American life, and the end product, maple sugar, was the foremost sweetener until the end of the Civil War. The most common use of sap today is in maple syrup, and it takes about 30-50 gallons of sap boiled down to make one gallon of syrup.

This annual event attracts hundreds of guests each year and is one of the Schrader Center’s most popular programs. Breakfast that includes pancakes, sausage, juice or coffee. Crafts, storytelling and live bluegrass music are also part of the fun.

There is an admission fee, and members of Oglebay Institute receive a discount. Boots and appropriate outdoor clothing are recommended.

People are encouraged to register in advance becauseit typically sells out. Reservations can be made at www.oionline.com or by calling 304-242-6855.