Saturday, December 30, 2006

Yellow Springs Descendants' Art Series: ZD & SD

Glen Helen Nature Preserve

405/505 Corry Street
Yellow Springs, OH


Clues: Easy

Terrain: easy to moderate. Some hills, cliff-side trails, and stepping-stone brook crossing (NOT the one on the trail map; don’t get disoriented).

Time and distance: Didn’t measure these (oops), but 4 & 5 year-olds managed it well.

What you need: bring markers/ink and a pen; boxes have only stamp & log.

You will not need to leave the main trail more than a few steps. NO BUSHWACKING is needed to retrieve these boxes. Walk softly (read the sign at the Glen entrance).

Glen Helen has a rich and interesting history, of which only small remnants can still be seen now that the area has been allowed to return to it’s natural state. We provide for you a VERY minimal outline of this history, necessarily leaving out SO MUCH great information. Caveat provided, here it is:

Identifiable human history was dated to 1000 BC when the remains of Neolithic peoples were identified in calcium found in the glen. Evidence of the Hopewell Indians, a mound-building culture from 500 BC, is still evident in a burial mound left behind, from which human skeletons and contemporary artifacts were excavated in 1953.

The well-known Bullskin Trace Indian trail--which ran from the Ohio River to Lake Erie—passed by the Yellow Spring. The Shawnee Indians had a village a few miles south of the spring, and they believed that the water of the Yellow Spring was healthful. Tecumseh, a leader of the Shawnee, was born in this village, and it is believed that he drank from the spring.

Then came the white settlers. Lewis Davis bought the land around the spring in 1803, and shortly after opened a tavern near the spring, advertising the “medicinal qualities” of the spring water (note the upgrade from “healthful”). The land passed through the hands of several owners, who revamped and embellished the original tavern to create a hotel. A stone dam was built just below the spring, creating a pond for swimming, boating, and skating.

In it’s heyday as the “Second Neff House” in the 1870’s, the once-tavern had become a thriving spa resort, centered around the Yellow Spring. A hotel had been built that was 4-1/2 stories high and had a 3-story high balcony around two sides. It had 246 rooms (including suites), 11 private parlors, a main parlor (75 x 45 feet) and a dining room (156 x 45 feet). The resort also had a boathouse, six bowling alleys, a stable with 125 stalls, a dairy, a garden, an orchard, a bandstand, and it’s own fire department. The hotel could expect 18 trainloads of visitors on a summer Sunday, and it was not unusual for 5,000 people to be enjoying the glen at one time! Lots of stuff happened, but we’ll leave the rest of the history now to get on with the hunt.

There are several plaques in Glen Helen with interesting info. Take the time to read.

YS Descendant’s Art: ZD, age 5

Park at the Trailside museum

Enter the glen by descending the large staircase behind the Trailside Museum. After crossing a bridge, you reach a fork in the road...Go to the right but don't cross the river.

Up, up careful for this stretch of the walk—keep small children under close supervision because the path is very close to the cliff.

You are looking for a gateway in a fallen sure to pick the right way. Down, down, down…as you walk along Birch Creek, you are looking for another gateway in a tree. When you reach this gateway, stop, and turn around. Take 10 steps back on the trail from whence you came. To the left is a break in a small fallen tree. This path starts you on your way to a tree near the river’s edge. In the base of this tree is ZD’s art. Be discreet & rehide well.

YS Descendant’s Art: SD, age 4

Continue ahead on the path until you see a large waterfall (The “Cascades”) just past a few smaller ones. The Cascades is reported to have been the “favorite trysting place” for Shawnee lovers. Continue straight for a little diversion off the main path to sit on the bench and enjoy the falls. After resting here, return to the main path, and head to the right up the stairs. At the top of the stairs, take the trail that moves away from the river.

Notice Helen’s stone at the base of a massive white oak…a fitting tribute to the namesake of this park.

Further on, notice the mound on the left of the trail. This, we (the LB planters) think, is the old Hopewell Indian burial mound we mentioned in the history above. The whites built a bandstand on the mound during the spa days.

Stop at the small shelter and learn about the old oak tree.

Continue on to the Yellow Spring (you’ll know it when you see it). Take a drink of the medicinal waters to cure your ills…what does it taste like to you? (When we were here planting these letterboxes, there were two people filling big jugs of the water to take home. Yummy!)

As you leave there is a small cave on your right. Beware, for we are told that bones may lie in there.

As you circle down the path, you are looking for a large sycamore V. Stand at this tree. Notice the dam on the right. Ponder the history…

Back to the hunt. Standing at the V-tree, take 14 steps and look to the rocks on your left. Within these rocks lies SD’s art. Look deep inside for a hiding spot. Don’t worry…this is not the place of bones. Again, please be discrete & rehide well.

To return to your car, take the bridge across the Yellow Springs Creek. Be careful, because one of the stepping stones is loose. Notice the pieces of “old” stone dam, which was washed away in a flood, and the structure of the “new” concrete dam, that leaked badly and couldn’t be repaired. Note that the pond that was created by the dam for recreational purposes later got polluted and filled with silt, and could not longer be used for swimming & boating. It was still used for ice-skating for a while, but, well, then structural and financial issues got in the way & the pond was no more.

Take the path to the right up the hill, following this path as it turns to the left & then summits the hill. Stay straight past the fallen trees. You’ll go through another gateway in a tree. At a trail intersection, continue straight. Another tree gate, then pass to the left of the Glen Helen building. Continue on to the bird blind, and take a rest here to learn about birds and try to spot some. Continuing on along this path will return you to the Trailside museum.

We highly encourage you to explore more of this beautiful land. There are 25 miles of hiking trails in the Glen.

If you would like to join a group of Grateful Letterboxers, click here.

Enjoy the day!


As with all of our letterboxes, we encourage feedback so that letterboxers will enjoy the hunts, and not get frustrated by poorly written clues or unintended hazards.

NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer.

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