Thursday, January 22, 2009

in volney we trust

"The park, in brief, is a gorge and its environments: A picturesque stream coursing through its center, having fine cascades and waterfalls, cliffs and bluffs upon each side from sixty to over a hundred feet in height clothed with sylva and flora exceedingly rich in variety and beauty"
- Volney Rodgers, 1904
So stated our dearest Volney, in his 121 page book published in 1904, A Partial Description of Mill Creek Park.

Never heard of this book by Mill Creek Park's founder?

Care to read it?

Amazingly, the entire book has been scanned by Google and is available here, online, for free (and it's even searchable by word). We get access to the electronic version of this gem because the New York Public Library has a copy of this book in its collections, all being digitized by Google.

check out this picture of the area around Pioneer Pavilion (built in 1821 and still standing in the city), but without mature trees everywhere:

The book is packed with amazing tidbits: the discovery of a musk ox skull unique to this part of the country, a water analysis of the Mill Creek and Mahoning River around the turn of the century, a botanist report chronicling all of the plant life in the Park, the statutes of the Park Commissioners, and a Financial Report from 1903 which includes how much people paid the park on May 27th of that year to rent boats and bathing suits ($20.85)

Here's a photo showing the construction of the Lake Cohasset (btw, Cohasset in an Indian language means "place of pines") dam:

According to Volney in the book:

In 1900, the census found 123,161 people in the U.S. died of pneumonia, consumption, or bronchitis. These three diseases were responsible for two-fifths of deaths in american cities back in the day, a much higher rate than in rural areas.

Thus, Volney wanted wondered "how best to bring the beneficial effects of rural life to the residents of cities?" His attempt to answer the question has led to the creation and continued existence of what we enjoy today as Mill Creek Park.

and from one visitor from Minneapolis:
"The existence of a tract comprising such a rare combination of attractive natural features in the immediate vicinity of a city is, so far as my experience goes, unparalleled elsewhere."
- H.W.S. Cleveland, upon visiting Mill Creek Park, 1893

1 comment:

Katie Libecco said...

Great find! Thanks for posting this. I have a friend at work who's been helping me track down "lost" features of Mill Creek Park - this is priceless!