“Then and now” photos have become very popular in the past few years. Entire books have been devoted to then and now shots of cities, including Cleveland. As we plan for our 100th Anniversary at Cleveland Metroparks, we hope to include some photos of this kind to help tell the story of our parks. Normally the process of creating such photos means finding a really cool old photo and locating the modern spot to recreate the shot. Or it might start with a current photo of a particular spot and then someone (like me) begins the hunt for an old photo of the same location.
This week, however, serendipity stepped in and provided us with two photos, taken almost eighty years apart, of a scene in Euclid Creek Reservation. The modern photo was taken by one of our employees, while on a visit to Old Baldy, which rises above the Highland Picnic area in Euclid Creek Reservation. The older photo was taken in 1936 by a Federal employee documenting the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp that occupied the land now used as a picnic ground.
Old Baldy, sometimes referred to as Mt. Baldy, is a shale cliff north of Euclid Creek Reservation. Too steep for cultivation or development, it has, however, served as a landmark for the area since the 1800s. I was searching for historic information and images for Old Baldy via good old Google when I came upon this photo.
At the same time, as I mentioned earlier, one of my co-workers, showed me this photo of the Highland Picnic area, taken last week. The view looked familiar so I pulled up my copy of the camp and we compared it to the new photo. Sure enough we had ourselves a pair of “then and now” photos, unplanned and unexpected.
We have discussed the work of the CCC camps at Euclid Creek and Brecksville reservations in other posts, most recently by Carl Casavecchia in his April 24th post at: http://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/Main/Roots-Revealed-Blog/201.aspx#.VUo2upNqGVA
Even so, I couldn’t resist sharing the story of these photos on my post this month. Plus, we owe so much to the work of the CCC “boys” that I think their story deserves as much attention as possible. Our 1934-35 annual report notes that this work helped to “develop these areas of the Cleveland Metropolitan Park System far beyond a point which could otherwise be expected for years to come.” But, just as importantly, the CCC was “reclaiming and revitalizing American youth.”
The construction work done by the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps can still be seen all these years later at many spots in Cleveland Metroparks. They created bridges, trails, picnic areas and parking areas, among other projects, and worked with park landscape architects to clear brush and weeds and to prepare soil for plantings. While you may not be aware of it, you might easily walk on, pass by or sit upon some of their work as you come out and play at one of our reservations.
So here’s a shout out to the CCC “boys” and to the men and women who had the vision to create this vibrant government program that not only helped thousands survive the Great Depression but left a legacy for generations to enjoy.
Cleveland Metroparks Historian