“Your Parks, Your Stories” is a two-year project (2014-2015) where Historical Interpreter Foster Brown, Historian Judy MacKeigan, along with a host of volunteers are collecting stories from you, our park guests about your experiences in Cleveland Metroparks. This project is not only helping us get to know Cleveland Metroparks through many more eyes, but is also providing more information for our upcoming 100th Anniversary in 2017. I hope you’ll consider sharing some of your stories to help us better complete the Cleveland Metroparks picture.
As I was thinking of the Anniversary, I realized that one’s story doesn’t have to go back that far to be a part of history. Come along and let me explain with one of “My Stories”. I happened to be in Hinckley Reservation a few weeks ago and was drawn to Whipp’s Ledges, a place I led numerous hikes 25-30 years ago. It was a perfect day for hiking the Ledges - sunny and about 70 degrees. Up the trail I went to the large Sharon conglomerate rocks (think sandstone with pebbles in it), trying to remember the paths I took many years ago. It wasn’t long before I stood there facing the massive Ledges from the bottom and decided to head south along the base to find some familiar spots that I frequented with school groups, summer day camps and the general public.
Soon the memories came flooding back. The stream still flowed from the rocks with the cool, constant temperature as always. Here we would talk about why the stream came out at this point (due to the different rock layers meeting) and the cool temperature of the water. Then there was the “chute”. If the group was well-behaved and had some nimble people in it, I would surprise them with an opportunity to venture into an opening in the rock that would allow one to wiggle down a 6’-8’ “slide”. Sadly, this is now closed due a large rock blocking the opening. I can still recall the kids’ smiles and surprised looks on the faces of the adults as both made it through.
My venture took me to the top the Ledges where I recalled the 6-foot rule. For safety sake, everyone had to stay back at least 6 feet from the edge. Since I’m 6’ 2”, I always used myself as a measuring gauge for the kids to understand what 6-feet looks like. Thirty years later, the six-foot rule is still useful, this time for me. The lookout areas still provide some amazing views of the valley to the west. These were good places to stop, gather the group, and secretly allow them to catch their breath after the climb up.
From here, I found the “cave” area that we always had fun cramming everyone into. It’s a rock overhang that we could go into and sit on the rocks inside. Here I would tell the story of the scout that got stuck in the rocks causing a community to come together for his safe rescue back in 1965. The opening he got stuck in was closed off after that episode, but you can still safely venture into the remnants of the “cave”.
At the other end of the Ledges, I found the “hallway and staircase” which was the easy way down on the north end. As I descended the stairs, I watched and listened to the others who were venturing into the Ledges for the first time. I smiled knowing the memories were there for the making and hoped this would be a place they would return to over the years creating their own stories.
I wondered if they had any idea of why it was called Whipp’s Ledges (see Roots Revealed: The Legend of Robert Whipp – 1/1/14). When I made it back to the bottom, I realized I had just travelled back 25-30 years, which seemed like only yesterday to me. I had just relived one of “My Stories” that is similar to many of those “Your Parks, Your Stories” that many share with us.
How many of you have “My Stories” that you could share with us that make Cleveland Metroparks come to life? Feel free to contact me for a chance to share with us some of your memories, no matter how young they are. Be a part of “Your Parks, Your Stories”. The past isn’t as far back as you think it is.