Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Cascade Park in the News Through the Years

Cascade Park re-opened a few days ago (you can the read the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram coverage of it here), so it's not a bad time for this post. 

It includes a couple of newspaper articles about Cascade Park through the years, courtesy of longtime blog contributor Rick Kurish.

The first article dates back to 1901. Rick wrote, "The other day I ran across an article in the Elyria Reporter Newspaper of July 17, 1901 describing some of the park improvements being made at that time – 117 years ago. 

"The wildest improvement at that time was a cable foot bridge to cross the west branch of the river. I had seen old postcards of this bridge, and it looked rather dangerous. The attached article describes the bridge as being 161 feet long, 4 feet wide, and suspended about 40 to 50 feet over the water.

Here's a vintage postcard of that cable bridge. It looks like it was designed for thrill seekers!

And here is that 1901 article (below) from when the cable bridge was new.
Rick noted that another bridge had already been built in the park. He observed, "For the more faint of heart, a stone footbridge was also constructed across the west branch of the river."
And here is a vintage postcard of that bridge, courtesy of Rick.
A much older newspaper article about land that became part of Cascade Park captured Rick’s interest.
Rick wrote, "Imagine my dismay, when the other day I came across a notice in the Ohio Atlas and Elyria Advertiser of July 19, 1843 that basically advertised for sale the west falls and what would later become the core of Cascade Park as a site for a dam, and erecting buildings for machinery and manufacturing purposes!" 
Here is the article. 
"I know that at about this time there was some industry at the site of the east falls, and a sandstone quarry operated for a time in the park, noted Rick, But I'm thankful that the area was spared worse desecration. Imagine the confluence area of the two branches of the river with a 15 foot high dam blocking the river!
The most recent article Rick found – and probably the most timely – involved Cascades popular bears.
Rick wrote,"While reading a recent article on the new playground that recently opened at Cascade Park, I found it interesting that the park included the image of a bear on a piece of playground equipment. It was a neat way to pay homage to the series of bears that called Cascade Park home for many years. 
"As a kid in the 1950s no visit to Cascade Park was complete without a visit to the bear den and some climbing among the rocks — after we had spent time at the playground of course. The bears are no longer kept at the park, which is just as well as the enclosure was much too small for their needs. Still they added to the sense of “wildness” along with the rocks and waterfalls.
"I am sending you a brief article on the bears which appeared in the Chronicle-Telegram of February 11, 1952, which undoubtedly featured the bears I visited as a kid in the 1950s. I’m sure many of your readers have similar memories about the bears.
Heres Ricks article. 
As a follow-up, Rick brought up the well-known story of the bears and the infamous July 4, 1969 flood. He wrote, "The article on the Cascade Park bears got me thinking about when they were removed from the park. I remember reading a reminisce by someone who thought the bears died in the flood of 1969 which devastated the park. 
"I’m happy to report that a little research revealed that all three bears survived the flooding — although their cage was flooded to the point that they had to spend the night swimming until the water started to recede. The attached article from the C-T of July 7, 1969 tells the tale."
Thanks for sharing your research, Rick! (And thanks for his patience as well; some of this material was sent to me by Rick more than two years ago!)

1 comment:

Dennis Thompson said...

Rick mentioned the industry at the East Falls. There was a mill and a power house. The ruins of the power house foundation are still there and can be seen from the scenic overlook. The mill was the reason for the name of a long gone, short street - Mill Street. The street in that area have changed names so many times it is hard to keep track of. Lodi St originally ran all the way from where Lake Ave entered the city and ended at the sharp corner where it crossed the RR tracks just north of Broad St. They used to be at ground level but are now elevated. That one block stretch of road as it went from the crossing up the hill to Broad St was Mill St. When the tracks were elevated and the curve straightened Lodi St now ran all the way to Broad. Lodi St was later renamed and became part of Lake Ave. You can no longer drive Lake Ave all the way to Broad St as the police station is in the way. The one block stretch (old Mill St) is now called Kerstetter Way.