30 Years later Akron-natives remember Gorge Metro Park, Cuyahoga River

Clear blue skies blanket the Earth, while the warmth of the sun radiates onto my skin. I can’t help, but feel at peace as I walk along the trails of the Gorge Metro Park in Cuyahoga Falls. It feels like the literal definition of perfect fall day, and with each step I take I feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into nostalgia. I remember as a teenager adventuring out into several metro parks to get away from everyday troubles. I remember scaling the tallest boulders to see above the trees. It was always a goal to get as far as possible and see where the river ends. I still recall looking with friends for Geocaches and opening up those capsules to see what knickknacks were inside. It was always great sense of accomplishment as I signed my avatar name onto the log, marking that I was lucky enough to find the capsule hidden away outside in mother nature’s beauty. But, as I inch closer and closer to the Cuyahoga River I feel myself come back to reality. I am then face to face with roaring waterfalls of the Gorge Dam, the tallest and most powerful dam along the 100 miles of the Cuyahoga River. Directly behind me are two friends that were caught up in a wave of nostalgia themselves. 

The Gorge Dam pouring gallons of the Cuyahoga River over a 60 foot wall, October 9, 2019. The dam was put in place in 1914 with the promise of having hydroelectric power to a nearby coal power plant. 

More than thirty years ago Jamie Ferris and Julie Eder, both Akron-natives, made their own memories at the Gorge Dam. The two were once high school sweethearts that dated for five years and this metro-park was a common spot for the two and many others growing up. 

“This was on our bucket list [today], the Gorge, Swensons and Harrisons,” Eder said. The two always went to Swensons for lunch or found a nice rock at the park for them to eat at.

Jamie Ferris (left) and Julie Eder (right) in front of the Gorge Dam, October 9, 2019. Ferris and Eder dated growing up and remember coming to the park several times. They both agree that it is cheap and a great way to immerse yourself in nature.

Ferris came back to town to visit his mother and said that he and Eder had to reconnect after several years of being away. And three decades later they say the Gorge Dam has changed quite bit. For starters people could swim near the dam and in the Cuyahoga River.

“I remember being able to sit at the top [near the waterfall] over there. This was in 1980- 83, 84, and 85,” Eder said. They both agreed that they had a game of running back and forth underneath the archway that the waterfalls made when they were younger. One of the only obstructions they had to watch out for at the time were falling logs. “Now a days you have people getting hurt…and the parks and recreation have to make it safer. It is actually nicer now you got a little deck here to get a better view,” Ferris said.

Not only was the Cuyahoga River and the Gorge Dam a main spot for the the two to adventure, but the trails all along the park as well. One of part of the park being at the cave of Mary Campbell. At twelve years old (in 1759), Campbell was kidnapped from her home in western Pennsylvania by Delaware Indians and lived with them until she was returned to her family in 1764. A section of the cave is blocked off and covered with bricks to keep people from going in.

The cave of Mary Campbell, October 9, 2019. In 1759 Campbell was the first white child to be part of the Western Reserve during the French and Indian War.
Bricks stacked high up to block visitors from entering in too deep into another section of the cave, October 9, 2019. Mary Campbell Cave was originally called Old Maid’s kitchen until the Daughters of the American Revolution renamed it in honor of her.

“There was one time where we went a little crazy and we climbed up over the bricks…and went back about fifty feet. They have dynamited it or somehow caved it in so you can’t get in,” Ferris said. “What I heard from history is that it goes all the way underneath Cuyahoga Falls,” Ferris said.

After all these years Ferris and Eder say that as they get older they appreciate the smaller things in life and say that the Cuyahoga River, the Gorge Dam and nature should not be taken for granted.

“You always feel connected when you’re out in the woods.” -Jamie Ferris

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