Monday, January 9, 2012

A 'Hike' into the Past - A Brief History of Gildersleeve Mountain

Last week the story of early Lake County conservationists was shared.  Applying the essays and teachings of naturalist John Burroughs and forming a Burroughs Nature Club locally, a group of community gentlemen preserved important areas of interest for future generations.  Today we examine the history of Gildersleeve Mountain.

Gildersleeve Mountain is an area of land located 18 miles from downtown Cleveland.  Situated 1,163 feet above sea level, it is less than seven miles from the shores of Lake Erie. This land area begins the Allegheny Plateau.  S. A. Gildersleeve settled in this area of Kirtland circa 1808, hence the name Gildersleeve Mountain.  While the trees, foliage, wildflowers, and animals are quite diverse, it is the unparalleled vistas that make Gildersleeve Mountain most unique.  From the mountain, one can see Mayfield Heights, the downtown Cleveland skyline, and the shores of Lake Erie.  On clear days Lorain, Avon, and the stacks of Besse-Davis are visible.  Point Rondeau, Ontario is just 54 miles off and while the Canadian shoreline is not visible from Gildersleeve, the Canadian waters 28 miles out are.  In the past sweeping views from Perry, Ohio to Willoughby, Ohio were the norm.  Gildersleeve Mountain also has some important contributions into the early history of the county.  The Chagrin watershed is a result of the mountain.  Settlers came to this area and harnessed the power of the water to establish towns and businesses here.  The Quarry Creek Ravine near the Old South Church property was the location of the Stannard Quarry Company which provided stones for the Kirtland Temple.

Today sixty percent of Gildersleeve Mountain is within the Chapin Forest Reservation.  Gildersleeve was acquired in 1949 by the State of Ohio.  Since 1966 it has been maintained by The Lake Metroparks.  Whether you visit Chapin Forest (located on Chillicothe Road in Kirtland) in the winter months to cross-country ski or snow shoe - or you walk the trails in any other season -  many spectacular views await you as you hike into the Gildersleeve Mountain past.

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