Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hill Climb at Mill Hollow Hill – May 16, 1931

I'm sure many of my fellow Baby Boomers recall childhood trips to Mill Hollow near Vermilion, and the steep hill where North Ridge Road entered the park at the eastern end.

I remember being fascinated when, after a family picnic or weekend of camping, Dad had to put the car in low gear as we slowly climbed the steep grade to exit the park. It always made for a memorable end to the day.

Years later, when my high school chums and I rode our bikes there, I used to dread the ride home and having to try and get up that hill on my Schwinn. Many times, we had to just walk it up part of the way.

That's why it was interesting to me to see this ad, which ran in the Lorain Times-Herald on Saturday, May 16, 1931. It advertises a motorcycle hillclimbing competition that took place on that well-remembered hill.

It all seems very modern to me for something that was held in 1931– 83 years ago this month.

Anyway, I can't remember exactly when the hill leading into Mill Hollow was rerouted and "improved" during the last few decades, but the drive into the park was never quite the same to me. Much of the route's natural beauty was lost when the bend in the road was broadened. Plus, the elements of historical charm and drama were gone forever.

Looking at an aerial view of the hill today (below), it's easy to see where the road used to go. You can see the ghost of the old road bed if you look closely (click on the photo for a larger view).


-Alan D Hopewell said...

I remember being told when I was going to Charleston that some kid (his name was never mentioned) rode down that hill in a shopping cart; can you imagine?

Dan Brady said...

He probably picked up enough speed to follow N. Ridge Road right out of the park at the other end!

Rick Kurish said...

Another old road that crossed the Vermilion River north of Mill Hollow was a favorite of my brother and I in the early 1950s. We always would pester my dad to take it if we needed to be on the west side of the river, although he seldom did. Too hard on the clutch he would say. The old road through Mill Hollow, was always a second choice of my brother and I.

This was Cooper Foster park road, which dived down into the valley off of Vermilion Road, crossed the river, and immediately started a long steep climb out of the valley. No "car friendly" switchbacks in this road! The road topped out of the valley at the intersection of Darrow and Gore Orphanage Roads.

Even in the early 1950s the road was in bad shape, and it was abandoned about that time, I think. My brother and I loved it for its rugged terrain and and to us, its seeming wildness. If I remember correctly, the road crossed the river on a single lane bridge, but I never remember meeting another car using the road. I always wondered why the road was built. Maybe before automobiles it was too time consuming to go all the way to Mill Hollow to cross the river.

Dan Brady said...

That's really interesting, Rick! I can see a little of what you're talking about by looking at a Bing Maps aerial view. Doesn't look like too many traces of the old road are still there. I'll have to try and find an old map that shows its route so I can see where it crossed the river.

Anonymous said...

It was a craze (crazy I think) in the 60's to ride a skate board down
Alan, I knew someone who lost their knee cap that way. Of the old hill I remember the deer and there were animals in cages in a flat area, I seem to remember a badger.

-Alan D Hopewell said...

Do you remember the three-legged fox?