When walking along the Mill Creek Trail in Garfield Park Reservation it’s pretty hard to miss the natural beauty of the area. Right now, late summer wildflowers are blooming below trees full of acorns, buckeyes and black walnuts. The first fallen leaves of autumn are beginning to the litter the trail. Fox squirrels, white-tailed deer, red-tailed hawks are frequently sighted in this urban oasis for wildlife. If you look closely however, this beautiful stretch of trail also provides clues to who was here before us and what brought them to this land.
The northern terminus of the trail is at Mill Creek Falls which occurs near the intersections of Turney, Warner and Miles Roads and Broadway Avenue. It was the site of the first saw mill and grist mill in the Western Reserve opened by William Wheeler Williams in 1799. In the 1850’s the Cleveland Rolling Mill, one of the first steel mills in Cuyahoga County, was built nearby. Today, while little evidence of mills remains, multiple overlooks provide stunning views of the largest waterfall in Cuyahoga County which attracted these early industries to the area.
The remains of Euclid bluestone quarries can be seen in Mill Creek alongside the trail. Large, dug out areas in the creek bed and imperfect stones tossed aside provide evidence of this industry. One of these quarries, the Caine Quarry Stone Cutting Company, supplied stone for sidewalk slabs to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Ground was recently broken and work begun on the next phase of the Mill Creek Trail. This new portion will travel from the corner of Warner Road and Garfield Blvd in Garfield Hts. down to Bacci Park in Cuyahoga Hts. There it will connect with Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath. This link will allow more visitors to access and enjoy the Mill Creek Trail and all the amazing natural and cultural history that it provides.