Have you acquainted yourself with Tinker’s Creek yet? If you haven’t, you are missing a gorgeous waterway in Bedford Reservation. A perfect place to get up close and personal with this 28.2-mile creek just south of downtown Bedford. This historic area was part of the original Bedford Township surveyed in 1797 within the Western Reserve.
To experience the creek’s splendor, take Broadway Avenue just south of historic downtown Bedford, cross the railroad tracks and look for Taylor Road. Make the first right onto Taylor Road until it dead ends into Willis Road. Make a left and you have arrived at Cleveland Metroparks Bedford Reservation – Viaduct Park. You are in for a great treat.
Follow the asphalt trail down into the valley of Tinker’s Creek where the town of Bedford began in the early 1800s. Make sure you read the interpretive signs to learn about how early residents crossed over the creek to bring their grains and lumber to be milled. Keep a keen eye out for the old dam remnants where Tinker’s Creek sweeps west before the falls. You will notice signs of old building foundations and depressions where they stood. Look for an old race that directed water to the flour mill and turbine that provided electricity to the town of Bedford starting in 1890.
As you draw near the platform, this vantage point allows you a fantastic view of the Great Falls of Bedford. Study the flow of the water as it passes over the Berea sandstone shelf and erodes the softer Bedford shale below. The geological formations of shale and sandstone contribute to the beauty of this creek and its tributaries that form Bridal Veil Falls and other remarkable relief features.
On this deck overlooking the tumbling water was the site of a successful mill owned by Holsey M. Gates. Does this name sound familiar? The village of Gates Mills was named after Holsey Gates, the grandfather who erected a mill in the early 1800s. His son Washington Gates operated a mill in Chagrin Falls, and finally the grandson Holsey M. Gates, with the help of his father, purchased this Bedford mill in 1876.
Tinker’s Creek is the largest tributary that feeds the Cuyahoga River. Its 28.2-mile path starts southeast of Streetsboro and meanders its way through Bedford Reservation, finally converging with the Cuyahoga River near where Tinker’s Creek Road and Canal Road intersect.
The volume of water that flows through this creek is impressive. While you’re down in Viaduct Park, look to the west downriver and you will see a curious site made of sandstone blocks. This is the Arch that was finished in 1902 to keep the water from eroding the railway bridge viaduct, which was built in 1864. This viaduct towers 120 feet high above the creek; thus, the namesake for the park. These two features are remarkable.
If you are nimble on your feet, walk along the shore of the creek, climbing over huge blocks of sandstone and peak into the Arch. You will gain appreciation for the craftsmanship of the people who constructed this Arch over 112 years ago. This massive tunnel is 40 feet wide, 32 feet high and 512 feet long.
At every stretch of the creek, beauty awaits the curious hiker and a glimpse of Bedford’s past begs to be explained and pondered. I hope you find time this fall to explore Tinker’s Creek and acquaint yourself with Cleveland Metroparks – Viaduct Park.
Revisit an earlier blog by Karen Lakus who wrote on 10/17/14 how Tinker's creek got is name.