Filed Under Environment

Virginia Kendall Park

For thousands of years, the land that encompasses Virginia Kendall Park has been a place of nature, recreation, and history -- from its prehistoric formation to its housing of some of the area's first inhabitants. Once the site of a public works project during the Great Depression and now a modern-day urban oasis, visitors have always appreciated the variety the park has to offer.

Now a part of the greater Cuyahoga Valley National Park, this multi-purpose land unit was the first property in the area perpetually designated for park purposes. Upon his death in the late 1920s, Cleveland businessman Hayward Kendall donated 430 acres of land around the Ritchie Ledges to the Akron Metropolitan Park District, calling it Virginia Kendall to honor his mother. Long before Kendall owned the land, Native Americans lived among the rock outcroppings there, getting food and water from nearby woods and streams. A favorite place for Indians to store things back then was between the crevaces of the rocks, like that of the famed Ice Box Cave, which provided a natural form of refrigeration.

In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built shelters and trails as a part of the New Deal's public works programs. Young men ages 18-25, who were jobless due to the Great Depression, were recruited to cut locally quarried sandstones to build steps among the natural rock outcroppings. CCC workers also built shelters from wormy chestnut trees found in local forests. The Happy Days lodge they built there was named after the song, "Happy Days are Here Again," featured prominently in Franklin Roosevelt's 1932 Presidential campaign. The unique shape of the octagon shelter is a good example of how architects incorporated their designs into the natural landscape.

Today, the park contains four primary trails, four secondary trails, four shelters, a lake, sledding hills, open spaces, rock outcroppings, an old cemetery, and various flora and fauna. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park makes available Questing pamphlets and Self-Guided Nature guides at most trailheads, allowing visitors to more easily explore Virginia Kendall's many treasures.

Images

Scenic Overlook Youths perform enjoy a cookout at the scenic overlook in Virginia Kendall Park, circa 1970s. Image courtesy of The National Archives
Planting Trees A member of the Civilian Conservation Corps plants trees in order to re-forest sections of park area, as well as to control erosion and increase soil management. Image courtesy of The National Archives
Job Training A member of the Civilian Conservation Corps receives on the job training, working with electrical and telephone line installations in Virginia Kendall Park. Image courtesy of The National Archives
Brick Paving Members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, learning the trade alongside experienced masons, construct a path on park property lined with bricks. Image courtesy of The National Archives
Clearing Brush Members of the Civilian Conservation Corps work to clear brush and clean up restored areas within the park's boundaries. Image courtesy of The National Archives
CCC Camp Members of the Civilian Conservation Corps typically lived in or near the areas of improvement they worked on. Here, they are in the woods under semi-permanent cover during clearing and cutting operations in a forested area. Image courtesy of The National Archives
Reforestation Members of the Civilian Conservation Corps worked on reforestation projects by planting, cultivating and managing growth, preventing soil erosion, and improving land management. Image courtesy of The National Archives
Platforms Over Kendall Lake In the mid-1970s, platforms spanned Kendall Lake as a means for visitors to further explore the lake and its natural inhabitants. The platforms have since been removed, and so has the ability for the public to enjoy the lake for swimming. Sport fishing, on a catch and release system, still exists. Image courtesy of The National Archives
Junked Autos The Cuyahoga Valley area in Akron and Cleveland was frequently used as a place to get rid of unwanted materials like cars and other durable goods. The woods today are still cluttered with trash although clean-up operations have worked hard to remove junk, such as the automobiles lining the Cuyahoga River in this photograph, circa 1970s. Image courtesy of The National Archives
Boy Scouts The Cuyahoga Valley area is home to many scout camps, including Camp Manatoc and Camp Mueller for Boy Scouts and Camp Ledgewood for Girl Scouts. Image courtesy of The National Archives

Location

1000 Truxell Rd, Peninsula, OH 44264

Metadata

“Virginia Kendall Park,” Cleveland Historical, accessed January 23, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/276.