Runners in this area are truely blessed since we have 33,000 acres of the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area to serve as our playground of some of the most beautiful land that Ohio has to offer. The National park encompasses land on either side of the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland. I've hiked and run the Towpath which follows sections of the Old Ohio and Erie canal that moved freight from the Ohio River to Lake Erie during the years between 1827 and 1861. After this, the canal was used more as a water source to supply the rapidly developing industry that had grown up along the canal. The canal met it's ultimate demise when a catastrophic flood ruined the canal beyond repair. I've been excited that the trail running I picked up a year ago has aquainted me with dozen of new trail vistas. For a quick canal history primer check out this Wikipedia Ohio & Erie Canal link
I've heard Roger talk about haunted stories associated with the Cuyahoga Valley. It's not surprising that an area rich in Canal history would have innumerable tales of woe since life in the Canal Days was obviously harsh. Many ghost stories exist whose orgins are in the carefully maintained historic structures that dot the Cuyahoga Valley.
I picked up a book at the Main Library, "Haunted Cuyahoga: Spirits of the Valley" written by a local author Ken Summers interested in the paranormal going-ons associated with the Cuyahoga Valley. I liked the history behind the stories, even if I'm not totally convinced there are actually ghosts in the Valley, but I will remain open. I'll be the first to admit that I think Big Foot exists as an elusive smelly throwback to some divergent line of hominid too smart to be discovered by us. I love ghost stories, too. I do believe that restless souls might linger if they have unfinished business or weren't ready for the business of death. My husband is a pompous unbeliever in most everything, so I have vowed to haunt him should my restless soul be taken prematurely. Get on my bad side and I will add you to my list of "sure to haunt."
I liked the story of Mr. Morrison, a jovial flaming red-haired Irish immigrant nicknamed "Red", that operated a tavern along the banks when the canal was being dug. He was a perenially jovial fellow that always remained positive and joking, despite despairing hardships that touched the lives of the canal diggers. Red's ghost is said to play jokes on hikers near Red Lock. He seems to enjoy happy haunting as much as he enjoyed living along the canal.
I have run Brandywine trail many times now and for some inexplicable reason, I don't like the trails around Brandywine as much as the others. And I can't tell you why. It's just a weird feeling. The area is breathtakingly beautiful, but I get weird feeling around the falls. Could it be that my oversensitive red-headed nature is picking up on the haunted negetive connotations associated with the area around Brandywine Falls or just a fear of heights? According to Ken Summers, the area was considered saturated with evil spirits, even by the native Americans that wouldn't have too much to do with the area. In 1814 The Wallace Family moved in from England and put up a series of sawmills and flour mills which were never profitable. William Hale bought the land in 1907 passing it to his son, Willis W, but met horrific unluck when lighting hit his equiptment shed before he took out an insurance policy to cover it. This man was stubborn, however, and tried to rebuild in 1937 when another bolt of lightening hit the factory and burned everything to the ground...again. Lightening stuck twice. That really kind of sucks and is freaking creepy.
The book has dozens of really cool historic stories just like this. There's a neat one concerning the Frazee House and Everett Bridge. It's a great book and just the ticket for a runner hooked on the trails of the CVNRA during Halloween.
This Sunday I'll be doing the Metro Parks Hiking Spree, but I'll be running the whole thing as an organized run by Vertical Runner in one morning. It should be a real hoot. I may dress up. Can you imagine what I'm going to be? Stay posted. This should be memorable for all involved. Eight different hiking trails make up the run for a total of 15 miles. We're all just taking this as an easy fun run to get acquainted with the Metro-Parks trails.