Steubenville’s Holiday Nutcracker Village

Some of the life-sized nutcrackers located in Fort Steuben Park
Photo by the Vagabond Historian
Entrance to historic Fort Steuben Park, 120 S 3rd St, Steubenville.
Photo by the Vagabond Historian

December 7, 2021
Nutcracker dolls (AKA Christmas Nutcrackers) originally gained popularity in Germany during the 19th century. By the time of World War II, small Germain factories were making wooden nutcrackers and shipping them to various parts of Europe.

After the war, some of the returning American soldiers brought German nutcrackers home as souvenirs and the American Christmas nutcracker tradition was born.

Building on that tradition, in 2015, Steubenville, Ohio began an annual Christmas exhibit of life-sized wooden nutcrackers. Over the years, the event expanded and the city now holds the world record for largest display of life-sized nutcrackers with more than 180 scattered along the streets of downtown.

Begin your tour by parking in the lot at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitor Center. To find the parking lot, program your GPS for these coordinates: 40° 21.518′ N  80° 36.828′ W

If you have time, make a visit to the reconstruction of historic Fort Steuben and also check out the original Steubenville land office which was built in 1800 and is located near the parking lot.

Snow White and the Dwarfs at the Fort Steuben Visitor Center
Photo by the Vagabond Historian

The original fort was built in 1786 by the First American Regiment to protect surveyors who were mapping the Northwest Territory. The fort was named in honor of the Prussian army officer, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben who served as General George Washington’s drillmaster.

The Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery stopped in Steubenville on September 6,1803. The original fort was no longer standing but the corps camped near the town when their boat became temporarily mired as they journeyed the Ohio River.

This reproduction of historic Fort Steuben is located on the original site of the fort.
Photo by the Vagabond Historian
Photo by the Vagabond Historian

The reconstructed fort is one of only two Ohio stops along the National Park Service’s Lewis & Clark National Historical Trail. (The other is the Wayne National Forest in Nelsonville.) To learn more about the rich history of Steubenville, click on this link.

The Fort Steuben Visitor Center and Holiday Gift Shop is open Monday through Thursday from 10 am and 6 pm, Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 8 pm and Sunday from 12 pm to 6 pm.

The visitors center has maps and brochures for local attractions, plus informational exhibits on Lewis & Clark as well as Steubenville native Dean Martin.

After visiting Fort Steuben and the land office, walk through Fort Steuben Park where you will find vendor booths, nutcrackers and a large Christmas tree. The nutcracker display is free and open to the public 24 hours a day from now through January 8.

On weekends from 3 pm to 8 pm, the Nutcracker Village includes additional activities for both adults and children.

This is the original First Federal Land Office, constructed in the 1800. Several years ago, it was disassembled and moved to the Fort Steuben site from its original location a few blocks away.
Photo by the Vagabond Historian

Hidden Acres Lodge & Winery presents the Glühwein Garden. Glühwein is a mulled wine served in Germany during the Christmas season.

It’s name, which translates as “Glow Wine”, refers to how the warm drink was originally prepared using hot pokers. All proceeds from the Glühwein sales benefit Steubenville area non-profits.

Families can take a break from the cold at the Children’s Corner located at 338 Market Street. Inside you can have photos taken with Santa, have your face painted and/or partake in the holiday-themed crafts and games. Children’s Corner is hosted by Mary Seat of Wisdom Montessori School.

Also on weekends from 6 pm to 8 pm visitors can enjoy hayrides.

Nutcrackers along a street downtown.
Photo by the Vagabond Historian

To learn more about these activities, plus model trains, concerts, holiday shoppes and more, check out the schedule of activities online.

After you leave the park, take a walk around downtown Steubenville and enjoy the variety of nutcrackers and other exhibits. While you are there, take time to visit some of the downtown shops and stop by a local restaurant for lunch or dinner.

The nutcracker display is fully handicap accessible and stroller friendly. Since the exhibit occupies a large area of downtown Steubenville, you may want to move your car to reduce the amount of walking. There is plenty of streetside parking. Click this link for a map showing the descriptions and the locations of the nutcrackers.

When you surf the map, you will quickly realize that it is impossible for us to show photos of all 180+ of the life-sizer nutcrackers on this page, so make the trip to Steubenville and enjoy them for yourself.

The German holiday beverage, Glühwein.
Photo from
The Vagabond Historian is a scholar of local history, specializing in knowledge of early American history. Popular as a speaker, he has graciously agreed to contribute his column to Pickerington Online.

Please also check out previous installments of this series:
Geohistory: Flint Ridge.
Geohistory: USS Shenandoah.
Geohistory: Sears Mail Order Houses
Geohistory: The Story of the 135th Ohio Volunteer Infantry