Beaver Creek State Park in eastern Ohio has much to offer, starting with a beautiful and affordable campground.
Mostly rustic, the campground has eight electric only sites, equipped with both 30 and 50 amp. I was the only camper in the campground the two nights I was there. I hope they have more usage on weekends or other times.
There are two loops…this loop is in what looks like a pine forest that was planted (in rows) at some point in the past. Campground roads are paved, and sites are gravel.
There is a nice playground and two hiking trails lead from the campground area.
There are vault toilets and "sun showers." First time I have seen these in a campground.
A short drive through neighboring farmland leads to a historical part of the park and pioneer village. I saw fields of corn, but really had to stop for a photo of these eye-popping sunflowers.
Entering the pioneer village. I saw a white duck walking beside the road here and took a photo. When I put the photo on my computer, I discovered the duck had fishing line wound around its bill, and probably a hook in its mouth. So I called the ranger and the duck was found and rescued. So I saved a duck.
Gaston Grist Mill was built in 1830 on this site, using water from nearby Beaver Creek to provide power. The mill has been restored and today grinds whole wheat flour, corn meal, and buckwheat flour on weekends in the summer.
A pioneer village has been created adjacent to the mill with historic buildings relocated to this site. This is an old school building.A church and a blacksmith shop.
Malone Bridge was built in 1870 over Middle Run, on State Road 154. It was later moved to a farm and converted to a storage shed. Thomas Malone, a covered bridge researcher discovered the former bridge and had it restored and relocated here in 1970.
This circa 1909 one lane bridge spans Little Beaver Creek.Remnants of the Sandy and Beaver Canal, a spur off the Erie Canal, are found throughout the park. The 73-mile Sandy and Beaver Canal was built in the mid-1800s and contained 90 locks and 30 dams. This typical swing gate lock is on display next to the pioneer village.
Little Beaver Creek has been designated a state "wild and scenic river."
Playgrounds and picnic areas are nicely laid out in the park. This is a wheel-chair accessible swing.
One of many picnic spots along the creek in the day-use area.
This road leads to another large picnic area.
This is one of several trails that Thistle and I followed. Also a horse trail, this part was supposed to lead to a scenic overlook of Beaver Creek.Thistle and I could hear a pack of coyotes howling in the distance.
This is the overlook. Maybe in the winter, when leaves are off the trees, you can see the creek from here.
Back home in the late afternoon and evening we had some thunderstorms blow through.
But our tour continued on a beautiful morning after the rain. The career of a notorious outlaw ended in this farm field in 1934. Depression era gangster Pretty Boy Floyd was pursued and shot down by local police and FBI agents.
Our drive took us to a third area of the park. This is a group camping area and day-use park.
This big limb down is the only evidence I saw of last night's storm.
Here lies the ghost town community of Sprucevale, a town that sprung up and prospered with the Sandy and Beaver Canal, and died with the demise of the canal trade. About all that remains are the Hambleton Grist Mill and the ghosts.
Maybe I should have stopped here.
Sprucevale bride-to-be, Esther Hale, was stood up on her wedding day. Broken- hearted, she never took her wedding gown off, and would wander the town and the bridge in the hopes that her groom would return. When townfolk noticed she stopped coming around, they went to her house and found that she had been dead several days…still wearing her wedding gown.
It is believed that poor Esther's ghost still haunts this bridge and the nearby Hambleton Mill.
In 1813 the Hambleton brothers purchased 300 acres along Little Beaver Creek and built this grist mill to serve neighboring communities. When the Sandy and Beaver Canal were to be built across their property, the brothers laid out the town of Sprucevale between the creek and the canal. The thriving community once had a woolen mill, post office, general store, warehouse, blacksmith shop and fifteen families. With the failure of the canal in 1852, Sprucevale quickly died and became a "ghost town" by 1870. The mill and one house are all that remain.
The mill is said to be haunted by a Quaker Preacher and/or Esther Hale. It is said you cannot take a picture of the building without an anomaly showing up in the photo. Hmmmm….
Barred windows on the mill.
A peek inside the mill: I never found the house that remains, but it has a ghost story too. It is believed to be haunted by a young boy who hung himself from the rafters.
Walking through the park alongside the creek.
Makes you wonder why certain branches grew in unusual shapes.
Looking for Esther...
Geese along the bank.
This is the trail to Gretchen's lock…another ghost story.
High cliffs along one side of the trail.
The trail is overgrown in places.
Vondergreen trail is a long trail that leads to the Pioneer Village that we visited yesterday.
One of the canal builders, Edward G. Gill traveled with his wife and infant daughter Gretchen to Ohio from Ireland. Sadly Mrs. Gill died en route and was buried at sea.
In 1834, Edward Gill began work on the canal, building this large lock.
In 1837, the same year the Hambletons established Sprucevale, Gretchen fell ill with malaria and died. According to State Park records, Gretchen was said to have cried,"I want to join my mother," during her fevers before she died.
Edward Gill, grief-stricken, entombed Gretchen's coffin in the walls of the canal lock. After the canal's failure in 1852, Gill left to return to Ireland, taking Gretchen's remains with him to bury in Ireland.
However tragedy struck again…the ship sank, taking Gretchen and her father with it. It is said that Gretchen's ghost still wanders the canal anf haunts this lock. Many variations of this legend exist.
The lock is certainly spooky. Light and reflections play over the walls and water.
A sudden splash made me jump….probably a frog?
On the way back I focused on some little things, like droplets on wildflowers...
There are horse camps and horse trails in the park too, and it was a nice cool, sunshiny day for that.
Little Beaver Creek
This is a more modern tragedy that occurred near Gretchen's Lock. In 2009, a 17-year-old youth lost his footing and fell 100 feet off a cliff. It was said that he was retrieving a machete he had been using to cut branches along Sprucevale Road for a tree service. The fall happened while he and a friend were taking a break and went exploring along the cliffs.
View of Little Beaver Creek from the overlook.
After lunch, Thistle and I hiked one more trail from the campground.
Uphill to the ridge.
Once a pine forest, it is now a mixed hardwood forest. The pine trees have grown very tall to stay above the deciduous trees.
Where the woodland fairies live?
This spider's web was in the shape of an orb.
Optical illusion…this is not a giant caterpillar climbing the tree. It is a small white caterpillar hanging on a spun thread in front of my face.
Walking along the ridge.
Lacy fungi on a log.
Moss-covered, decaying log.
Back to the campground. We didn't do all the trails, but we covered the three main areas of the park.
On to new adventures!