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Roots Revealed Blog



Judith MacKeigan

Judith MacKeiganJudy MacKeigan began working for Cleveland Metroparks in 2010 as the historian/archivist for the parks.  Judy collects and maintains historical documents, published materials and other items of historical significance to the parks and the community.  She also conducts historical research and attempts to solve "history mysteries."  Judy has a MA in History and is passionate about the past.


Topics

"A Fine Young Man"
Posted: 4/26/2016
This week's guest blogger is Ron Ciancutti, Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. Ron began his career in 1985.  In this essay he shares the story of his first job,  and the satisfaction and pride he has derived from his long association with Cleveland Metroparks . . . In May of 1984 I was a typical, overanxious young man who had been out of college for a year and had yet to find my niche as far as “long-term employment.”  I’d worked hard in school.  I had good grades, a stron...

 

"I Think That I Shall Never See . . ."
Posted: 4/6/2016
I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. Trees, by Joyce Kilmer   I don’t know if the lyric, old-fashioned poem by Joyce Kilmer is still taught in elementary schools on Arbor Day as it once was, but the theme of the poem still has value.  Besides being lovely to look at, trees provide oxygen for breathing, homes for wildlife, sap for maple syrup, and eventually decompose into rich soil for new trees.   In honor of Arbor Day, April 29, 2016, and the upcoming 100 th A...

 

Along the Lake to Lake Trail - A Western Reserve Story
Posted: 3/23/2016
John Kilgore is this month’s Roots Revealed Guest Blogger. John, Manager of Facilities Engineering, worked on the Lake to Lake Trail project and was inspired by the history of the area to write this blog post. John not only works for Cleveland Metroparks, he grew up roving our reservations and has a passionate interest in the cultural remains that dot the parks.  Big Creek Reservation’s Lake to Lake Trail offers the visitor a special experience, where one can explore both natural history and the hu...

 

A Little Bit About VisCom
Posted: 3/2/2016
In 1962 a small maintenance building in Brecksville Reservation was re-purposed to function as an “Exhibit Lab.”  For the first time since the trailside museums opened in the 1930s, there was now a place to build exhibits and then transport the finished product to install at the museums.  Exhibits were also created for outside events such as the Home and Flower Show held annually at Public Auditorium. Exhibit Lab in 1962 Rocky River Trailside Museum exhibit, 1964 In the mid-1970s a modern buil...

 

Maintaining Our Cool
Posted: 2/24/2016
This winter has been mild, to put it mildly. In most years though, those of us who live in Northeast Ohio have experienced some cold, brutal winters.  On the flip side we can also suffer through extreme high heat and humidity in the summer.  But, for the most part we have a temperate climate that encourages us to get out and enjoy the natural beauty of Cleveland Metroparks in all four seasons. There is a group of individuals who are out in the parks in all kinds of weather.  Rain or shine...

 

Cleveland Metroparks: Back to the Future
Posted: 12/9/2015
The end of another year is a good time to ponder the past and dream about the future.  As Cleveland Metroparks historian, I spend a lot of time delving into the past, but the approach of a new year has me wondering what Cleveland Metroparks might look like in the next hundred years or so.   What will the future bring? One of my visions is that a clean energy public transportation system would enable people to travel to and around the reservations on dedicated roadways or underground subways— u...

 

Ghost Remains at Bonnie Park
Posted: 9/9/2015
For almost a century engineers and construction crews have worked to create trails, roads, fords, bridges and buildings throughout Cleveland Metroparks. This allows guests to travel throughout the park system, hike, bike, or ride amongst nature, and to find restrooms and shelter for picnics.  Some of the earliest structures are still maintained and enjoyed by new generations of park guests; other structures have been decommissioned and removed or left to rejoin the natural elements. Alongside the “...

 

"Bereastock"
Posted: 8/19/2015
In 1970 a group of youths from Berea had visions of creating a local version of Woodstock, at least in a small way.  Some enterprising promoter put an ad in a local paper inviting the public to a rock festival near Wallace Lake at the area known, appropriately as Music Mound.  Unfortunately no one thought to obtain the necessary permission from the Cleveland Metropolitan Parks, since the land in question was after all, part of Rocky River Reservation.  When no concert materialized several...

 

Door Keys and Zoo Keys
Posted: 6/10/2015
A couple of weeks ago I went on vacation and spent several nights in hotels along the way.  At check-in we were given those now familiar room “keys” that resemble a credit card. A swipe of the card through the magnetic lock and the hotel room door opens.  I have used these types of card keys most of my adult life, but I just discovered the link between the keys to hotel rooms and the beloved zoo key memories of my childhood. In 1960 the Cleveland Zoo introduced talking books at select animal e...

 

On Top of Mt. Baldy
Posted: 5/13/2015
“Then and now” photos have become very popular in the past few years.  Entire books have been devoted to then and now shots of cities, including Cleveland.  As we plan for our 100 th Anniversary at Cleveland Metroparks, we hope to include some photos of this kind to help tell the story of our parks.  Normally the process of creating such photos means finding a really cool old photo and locating the modern spot to recreate the shot.  Or it might start with a current photo of a particu...

 

Cherry Blossom Time
Posted: 4/8/2015
Every spring the people of Japan watch eagerly for the blossoming of the cherry trees, sakura.   The Japanese Weather Service offers a “ sakura front” watch, complete with maps that trace the spreading pink from the island of Okinawa in the South to the island of Hokkaido in the North. Some people travel to enjoy flower viewing, “hanami,” at a spot away from home the way some Ohioans travel to New England for fall foliage.  But most people simply enjoy the show in their own town or city.&...

 

Our Day in the Sun
Posted: 3/11/2015
Our Day in the Sun You can tell its spring in Northeast Ohio when the human population starts shedding their winter coats and roaming about without hats. Yesterday’s sunshine made the 34 degree weather seem balmy. It did, however, occur to me that 34 degree weather in July would send us all scrambling for those same winter coats and hats. But after weeks of frigid air the relatively high temperatures and sunshine were a balm to our spirits. Nature Education Building, North Chagrin Reservation The sunshi...

 

"It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature"
Posted: 2/11/2015
The swollen Rocky River wreaks havoc on a concession stand  in the Rocky River Reservation The snowy winter weather we are having this week is beautiful to look at, but admittedly causes a certain amount of disruption to our daily lives.  However, I’ll take the snow any day over flooding.  I came across these photos of the flood that ravaged much of Northeast Ohio in January of 1959.  Several lives were lost and property damages climbed into the millions. Downed power lines and flood...

 

"Cleveland's Nature Trails"
Posted: 1/14/2015
In 1937 over seventeen thousand Cleveland area residents purchased a small publication from Cleveland Press sub-stations around the city.  The publication was simply titled, “Cleveland’s Nature Trails,” and its cost was a mere 6 cents. Even in the midst of the Great Depression this was a good deal.     A. B. Williams, park naturalist of the Cleveland Metropolitan Park System wrote the text of the booklet and provided most of the photos, while the Cleveland Press published it as part ...

 

This One's for The Birds
Posted: 12/10/2014
This morning when I was in my backyard, I heard an unusual (to me) bird call. I found myself wishing I had one of our amazing naturalists by my side to identify this bird for me. I am not alone in my curiosity, I am sure. There are many serious birders, both those that work as naturalists and those who pursue this interest as a hobby. These folks have a wealth of knowledge in their heads. Others are, like me, just casually curious. Since 1934 Cleveland area birders, both casual and serious, have had opp...

 

Memorials
Posted: 11/17/2014
What does the word memorial mean to you? A quick Google search brings up the following definition: “something, especially a structure, established to remind people of a person or event.” If you drive along the Valley Parkway in the northern part of Rocky River Reservation you will see a large field identified by the following sign: Unlike some of the other memorials in Cleveland Metroparks it is not obvious just who or what is being memorialized.   When you encounter a sign for the Stinchcomb ...

 

Squire's Legacy
Posted: 10/23/2014
I have become intrigued by the urban legends/ghost stories about Squire’s Castle that can be found on myriad web sites.   The basic story is as follows: In the 1890s wealthy oil executive Feargus B. Squire began to build an English style country estate on land that is now part of North Chagrin Reservation.   The only building that was completed was a gatehouse.   This gatehouse, however, was no little shack, but a good sized house complete with a library, trophy room, bedrooms and a great...

 

The Great Bear Mountain Expedition
Posted: 9/10/2014
I love this photograph for so many reasons.   Number one, I love seeing a group of men out traipsing in the woods in three piece suits.   While I love today’s casual clothes, I sometimes yearn for a time when people dressed up more often and rarely left the house without a hat.   Second, I love the fact that so many prominent Cleveland businessmen were so invested in the success of the fledgling Cleveland Metropolitan Park System that they traveled to New York to see Great Bear Mountain. ...

 

Down in the Flats
Posted: 8/13/2014
Merwin's Wharf at Cleveland Metroparks Rivergate Quick, what do you think of when I say “the Flats?”   Many of you may picture the flats of the 80s and 90s, when a rowdy, frat house atmosphere prevailed.   If you are of the generation that grew up during the 30s and 40s, you might remember the busy harbor, Jim’s Steakhouse, and the sulfuric smell and orange glow of the steel mills. If we could talk to those who lived in the 19 th century they would tell a story of progression from mosquito inf...

 

"Over the River"
Posted: 7/9/2014
Morley Ford as it looks today ​ As I write this we have been experiencing a lot of rain the past few days.   The section of the Rocky River that I drive along to and from my office has risen to the top of its banks and is a muddy brown, full of swirling eddies and rushing water as it makes its way to Lake Erie.   I have the choice of several bridges on which I can travel as I cross from one side of the river to the other on the Valley Parkway and local roads.   But some crossing spots pro...

 

"Circle of Wildlife"
Posted: 6/11/2014
The new Circle of Wildlife Carousel, awaiting the next group of riders. Yesterday I paid a visit to the new Circle of Wildlife Carousel and the nearby Nature Discovery Ridge play area at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo this morning. This got me to thinking about the different types of children’s activities and rides that have delighted Cleveland area kids for many years. The 1980s version of a zoo carousel. I was once one of those kids and have wonderful memories of the zoo in the early 60s. There was, of cour...

 

"Mighty Mashies"
Posted: 5/14/2014
Warm weather has officially arrived and the golf courses at Cleveland Metroparks are blooming with golfers.  So, I decided this would be the perfect time to putter around in our historic golf photos and articles and share some of my finds. When the parks were established in 1917, golf was already on its way to becoming a national phenomena.  During the booming years of the 1920s, the sport took off in a big way. And, many people who wanted to play could not afford to join a private club. So, t...

 

A Walk on the Wild Side
Posted: 4/23/2014
It is a beautiful spring day in 1930, where do you go to look for shy wildflowers, or enjoy the green leaves emerging on plants and trees?   You head out to your nearby Cleveland Metropolitan Park reservation, of course.   You can explore the woods on your own, or you can take advantage of the new nature trails that have been created by the park naturalists and enthusiastic volunteers. The term “nature trail” seems a bit redundant, I mean aren’t all the trails and paths in the parks considered...

 

Parks of the Past
Posted: 4/2/2014
Outside the windows of the building where my office is located I can see the beauty of the Rocky River valley.   I can also glimpse the greens of Big Met Golf Course, and watch people jogging along the All Purpose Trail or driving or biking along the road that winds through the valley.   If I left my office and joined the traffic along the road I would come upon picnic shelters and swing sets.   If I parked my car and headed toward the river on foot, I could head deeper into the woods and...

 

"A little news sheet"
Posted: 3/5/2014
Emerald Necklace -March, 1952 Next time you open your copy of the Emerald Necklace , (which we hope you do every   month!) take a moment to reflect on its long and illustrious history.   The Emerald Necklace made its first appearance in March of 1952. We don’t have “official” documentation that tells us who decided to produce a newsletter.   According to an interview with Naturalist/Artist, Fritzi Klopfenstein, she was among the group of individuals responsible, along with Chief Naturalis...

 

More Winter Fun
Posted: 2/12/2014
Observations by naturalist, Robert Furlong, in the Jan 1975 Emerald Necklace Last month I wrote about the history of our unique refrigerated toboggan chutes. But of course, there are lots of ways to have fun during the cold, snowy winter months in Cleveland Metroparks.   For this week’s blog I set out to find some photos and references to winter activities over the years.   Here, in no particular order, are some of my findings. Annual Report, 1930 The first mention of winter activities found i...

 

Winter Funland: It's All Downhill From Here
Posted: 1/8/2014
Many Clevelanders love to complain about our winter weather.   Others take advantage of the low temperatures and snowy days by getting outside and enjoying winter activities only available to us for a few months of the year.   So, while some grumble at snow, others feel cheated when the white stuff proves elusive.   For those who enjoy the thrill of downhill toboggan chutes the lack of snow has not been a problem since 1967.   That is the year that the “first refrigerated toboggan sl...

 

Guardians of the Evergreens
Posted: 12/11/2013
Emerald Necklace December 1952 It is a sad fact of life that wherever there are communities of people there are problems with vandalism. Cleveland Metroparks has not been immune from this problem.  In fact the majority of early arrests made by park police (as our rangers were first known) were for vandalism.  Often these acts were committed by bored kids who were just not thinking. Sometimes they were deliberate and malicious acts intended to do great harm.  Bu,t one type of vandalism was...

 

The Chewing Gum King and Cleveland Metroparks
Posted: 11/13/2013
Pop quiz - What do the following items have in common . . . a stick of gum, a race horse and a golf club? Ok, time’s up, put your pencils down.   If you guessed Big Met Golf Course in Rocky River Reservation you get an A+.   The story goes back to the late 19 th century, a time of great growth and booming industry in Cleveland.   Along with the well known steel and oil industries that made millionaires of John D. Rockefeller and his peers, were hundreds of other men making money out of a ...

 

Camera Fiends
Posted: 10/9/2013
1918 Kodak ad courtesy of Duke University Library Digital Collections http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/eaa_K0173/ I have been enjoying the beautiful photographs posted on Instagram during the Show Your Love Contest. (details at http://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/Main/MyCLEMetroparks-Instagram-Contest.aspx )   So I thought this was the perfect time to share the story of our first photo contest, held back in 1918. In July of that year an article in the Plain Dealer sported the following hea...

 

The End of the Ride
Posted: 9/11/2013
Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Cleveland Memory Project Full disclosure . . . this little girl on the miniature turnpike ride at Euclid Beach in 1964 is NOT me, but it could have been.   Yes I am old enough to remember summers at Euclid Beach before it closed in 1969.   Now that Cleveland Metroparks has acquired the old Euclid Beach land, I have been doing some research into several defunct amusement parks whose land is now part of, or adjacent to one of our reservations. Many of...

 

The Youngsters Camp Out: Part Three
Posted: 8/14/2013
As summer draws to a close, and the kids get ready to head back to school (cue groans from the kids and smiles from the parents) I am finishing up my series of posts on summer camps.   This month I am highlighting Camp Cheerful.    Operated by the Achievement Centers for Children  (originally known as the Society for Crippled Children) Camp Cheerful has been a place for children and adults with disabilities to enjoy traditional camp activities since 1947.   But there was an earl...

 

The Youngsters Camp Out: Part Two
Posted: 7/10/2013
Last month I wrote about the many summer camps in Cleveland Metroparks.   This month and next I will be highlighting two unique camps, the River Road YMCA Camp at North Chagrin Reservation, and Camp Cheerful at Mill Stream Run Reservation.   While the Y camp closed up operations in the late 1970s, Camp Cheerful is still providing recreation and opportunities for children and adults with disabilities. The River Road camp was originally planned as an American Legion camp in 1938. By that year, C...

 

The Youngsters Camp Out
Posted: 6/12/2013
Under the section titled “ The Youngsters Camp Out ,”  the 1929 annual report of Cleveland Metropolitan Park District notes that several thousand children who attended the summer camps in the parks “ secured a new measure of health, pleasure, recreation and knowledge.”  The “youngsters” themselves, and the generations of kids who followed, may not have spent time analyzing the benefits of soaking up the “ fresh air and sunshine ” they lacked in their city neighborhoods. They were too busy havi...

 

Practical Dreamer
Posted: 5/1/2013
Cleveland City Parks Engineer, William A. Stinchcomb, wrote in his 1906 report: “Through the valleys of Rocky River on the west, and Chagrin River on the east, lie some of the finest stretches of natural park lands to be found in the northern part of Ohio. While all this is now entirely outside of the city, it will be but a short time before they will be inside or very near the limits of a 'Greater Cleveland' and it seems to me that such fine stretches of natural parkway should be secured for the benefi...