Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beaver Creek State Park Run

Today my brother and I drove down to East Liverpool, OH to check out Beaver Creek State Park for the first time. This is a park I've wanted to run in for some time now. On the way there you drive down a partially maintained road that has some steep dropoffs and no side guardrails. Then you cross the bridge shown in the picture above which is wide enough for one car to pass at a time. We arrived sometime after noon and parked next to Gaston's Mill and Pioneer Village.

This park has a tremendous amount of history and makes you feel like you're stepping back in time. The first inhabitants of the Beaver Creek area were Indians of the Fluted Point Culture nearly 10,000 years ago. Flint knives, fluted arrowheads and pottery have been found nearby. Remnants of the Sandy and Beaver Canal, a spur off the Ohio-Erie Canal, are also found throughout the park. This 73-mile canal was built in the mid-1800s and contained 90 locks and 30 dams. As railroads came into Ohio, canal and river traffic declined, and the founding of the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad Company caused the closing of the Sandy and Beaver Canal in 1853.

The Little Beaver valley provided opportunity for water power and resulted in the construction of Gaston's Mill in 1837. The mill stands completely restored and today grinds whole wheat flour, corn meal and buckwheat flour on a seasonal basis. A pioneer village, adjacent to the mill, includes a log home, schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and a church. I saw a sign that said the park holds pancake breakfasts here on the 3rd weekend of every month from May through October. This could make for a fun group run in the future!

Of other local, historical significance was the capture of the infamous Confederate General, John Hunt Morgan. Morgan was one of the Confederacy's most daring cavalrymen. Morgan and his 2,000 raiders crossed the entire width of Ohio from west to east before his eventual capture near the park.

Also, the discovery of rich clay deposits in the area of East Liverpool led to the birth of the pottery industry in the 1840s. The industry was so prosperous that the area became known as the pottery center of the United States and nearly three-fourths of the nation's white ware was produced in this region during the mid-1800s.

Well... that's it for the history lesson! After looking at the park map we decided that the best route to take in order to cover the most ground would be to follow the Vondergreen Trail (which is part of the extensive North Country Trail system) along Little Beaver Creek as far as it would take us and then turn around. Jeff and I were pleasantly surprised at everything we saw along the way. It's always so exciting to run new trails since you never know what's around the next corner and this park seemed to offer a little bit of everything. The best way to describe it is a combination of Mill Creek Park, Oil Creek State Park, and the Clarion River. There are hilly, rocky sections with beautiful overlooks, as well as smooth, flat sections of trail that follow the base of the river. There are also some nice wooden bridges that cross over streams.

We made it down to Hambleton's Mill, which is next to the end of the Vondergreen Trail, and then continued onto the Fisherman's Trail, but didn't go much further than that because the trail turned into a muddy horse trail and we didn't want to get back too late.

So, we turned around and headed back to our car to finish up a total of 8 miles. Click Here to see the rest of the pictures I took during our run. Also, here are a couple videos.....

Overlooking the Beaver Creek valley

Running downhill on the Vondergreen Trail

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