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Day Trippin’ Around the Delaware State Park

0 Blog6 058Delaware County was originally much bigger, with the northern part including what is now southern Marion and Morrow counties.  For that reason, I’m including Waldo in this article, because everyone needs to know about fried bologna.  But first things first.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a dam on the Olentangy River in the late 1940’s.  Completed in 1951, Delaware Lake now covers 1300 acres that lie within both Troy and Marlboro townships.  The state park is especially known for camping and boating, but the disc golf course has become quite popular as well.  In the winter time, activities include hiking, sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing.  When you look at the entire map of the area, you’ll see many Division of Wildlife areas including archery, hunting and a rifle range.  The Ohio Department of Natural Resources management plan for the park contains detailed information about the construction of the dam and the park.

Birds circling below the Delaware dam after recent high waters

Birds circling below the Delaware dam after recent high waters

One of the best sledding hills in Delaware County is at the dam area.  This is also a great place for long walks along the levee and dogs are welcome.  The round trip distance from the dam to Leonardsburg Road and back is about 4 miles.  During my last visit the dam was hard at work managing the effects of the recent heavy rains.  Much of the wildlife area and parts of the park were flooded.

Flooding at the rifle range along 229

Flooding at the rifle range along 229

While the exact location is restricted, it is still interesting to learn about an archaeological site within the state park for the Cole Native American culture (800-1300).  This site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In addition to the area around Mingo Park, there was also a Mingo camp just north of town. Prior to the first white settlers, the Indians already established that the banks of the Olentangy River were prime real estate.  Two separate sources noted a Mingo settlement at “Horseshoe Bottoms”.  As noted in the 1880 History of Delaware County book, the “Indians were very much attached to this river and were greatly affected when compelled to leave it.”

Horseshoe Road is named for the creek which runs from the east right into the horseshoe shaped bend of the Olentangy River, located along Panhandle Road.  Horseshoe Run starts north of Hanover Road and runs along Horseshoe Road until it turns west at Pleasant Hill Cemetery and goes along Case Road before flowing into the Olentangy.  Many of the early settlers were noted as having settled “along the Horse Shoe” or in “Horseshoe Bottoms”.  A historic landmark in Troy Township is one of these early homes on the Horseshoe bend of the Olentangy River.

Delaware State Park marina

Delaware State Park marina after recent heavy rains

Troy Township was created in 1816 and while no current towns or villages exist, there is history here.  Early settlers include David Dix, Sr., Nathan Roath, and Joseph Curren.  James Norris, Sr. was the namesake for the creek called Norris Run, and as reported in the 1880 county history book, a new covered bridge was built near his farm over the Olentangy located between present day Main Road and the Delaware dam.

The Main family was prominent in the early records of the township.  Timothy and Lyman both erected sawmills on Horseshoe Creek.  Many of the Main family members are buried in Marlborough Cemetery and perhaps “Main Road” is named for this family.  Other early settlers included Samuel Wells, Henry Cline, Thomas Gill, and Henry Worline.  Samuel Gilpin also settled “on the Horseshoe” at this time.  As with most of our early settlers, many were Revolutionary War soldiers, and many of them joined Harrison’s Army in the relief of Fort Meigs.

Looking towards 23 from the dam

Looking towards 23 from the dam

One notable early settlement was Cole’s Mills, which was located at the intersection of Panhandle and Horseshoe roads.  Ironically, this is not far from the previously mentioned archaeological site of the Native American Cole culture.  Joseph Cole arrived in 1808 and after buying over 600 acres of land, he established mills, made brick, and was named Justice of the Peace.  The 1880 Delaware County history book attests to his industriousness:  “He was a man of that vigorous type so essential to the development of any community, and left an imprint on the affairs of the township in his day, which time has not effaced.”

The first bridge over the Olentangy River in the township was at Coles Mills in 1840.   Cole built a covered bridge and collected a toll to use Water Hill Road.  Miss Electa Wilcox taught in the first school in Troy Township in 1814, in a log cabin by a sugar maple grove on his farm, earning $31.20 per month.  Although there were traders, there were no stores and the post office was at Cole’s house from 1841 to 1856.  The small town and the covered bridge all went the way of the dam in 1948.  The church and 600 graves were moved to the rerouted Horseshoe Road and Leonardsburg Road.  The story goes that most of the town’s buildings were destroyed, but Cole’s house was left to rot.  For a time people were able to fish out of the second story windows.  Cole is buried in Marlborough Cemetery.

The end of the levee, at Horseshoe & Leonardsburg Roads

The end of the levee, at Horseshoe & Leonardsburg Roads

Marlboro Township (once spelled Marlborough) was created in 1808.  It originally included parts of Troy and Oxford townships, as well as parts of Marion and Morrow counties.  It includes the village of Norton and once included Waldo as well.  Some of the most interesting local history comes from this area (even more interesting than fried bologna sandwiches).

Nathaniel Wyatt, Sr. and Nathaniel Brundige came from Marlborough Township in Ulster County, New York in 1806.  William Reed was the first settler in the town of Norton in 1807.  More settlers followed, including Captain William Drake.  Drake was lost on his way to Eden, and ended up finding Reed and one log cabin.  He stayed and organized a militia.  Other notable pioneers included Joab Norton, who was the namesake for the village of Norton.

Fort Morrow historical marker along Brundage Road

Fort Morrow historical marker along Brundage Road

Nathaniel Wyatt, Sr. built a tavern as the first brick structure in the township. It became the centerpiece of Fort Morrow which was built when a blockhouse was erected on either side.  As with other blockhouses and forts built during the early 1800’s, the primary purpose was for protection from Indians.  Captain Drake goes down in infamy for turning a practical joke on his men into widespread panic by faking an Indian attack at Fort Morrow.  Before he could assure his men that it was a hoax, one of them made way to Radnor and began spreading the news.  From there it mushroomed and created mass chaos throughout the area.

The village of Norton was laid out by Colonel James Kilbourne in 1806 or 1807.  Situated just south of the boundary line between Marion and Delaware counties, few buildings remain.   Norton is now mainly known for the sporting goods store which supplies outdoor enthusiasts visiting the Delaware Wildlife Area.

Military road marker in Waldo across from the G & R Tavern

Military road marker in Waldo across from G & R Tavern

As you travel from Norton to Waldo and move between U.S. 23 and S.R. 423, imagine this same route being used as a military road.  It followed the Scioto Trail, which was already a well-worn path made by Native Americans.  During the War of 1812, this was a major route for transporting supplies between Fort Detroit and Fort Meigs.  Other names for it were the War Road, Norton Road, Marion-Delaware Pike.  S.R. 423 and U.S. 23 eventually reconnect at the Marion/Crawford county lines.  (As a side note, click here for the story behind the test pavement!)

Nathaniel Wyatt is buried in Wyatt Cemetery in Waldo Township as well as other early settlers.  Nearby along S.R. 229 you will find the Mayfield and Norton cemeteries.  There are several other cemeteries in Troy and Marlboro townships.  The Marlborough Cemetery is actually in Troy, and it is located with the Marlboro Primitive Baptist Church at the corner of Horseshoe and Leonardsburg Roads.  This was a cemetery relocated in 1948 due to the construction of the dam.

Marlborough Cemetery, Horseshoe Road

Marlborough Cemetery, Horseshoe Road

Other villages once known in this area of Delaware County include Inskeep Corners and Troyton.  Inskeep Corners was a crossroads community named for W.R. Inskeep and is now under the reservoir.  Graves were moved to Marlborough cemetery and it is now marked by the old antique store on the corner of U.S. Rt. 23 and Radnor Road.  1866 maps show J.J. Inskeep with property at this location and in other records, W. R. Inskeep was breeding and selling Jersey cattle here in 1913.

Troyton was a railroad town and home to a popcorn plant 1894 to 1904.  It was located on Radnor Road near the railroad tracks.  Details are sketchy, but there was evidence of a post office here.  Both Norton and Troyton were stops on the Columbus, Sandusky and Hocking railroad.

Sunset over Troyton

Sunset over Troyton

If you’re a tree hugger, you might be interested in knowing more about the federal research being done nearby.  In 1960, the U.S. Department of Agriculture opened a Forest Service research lab on Main Road.  Studying Dutch elm disease was one of the original projects, and current research includes sustainability.  The USDA labs have 233 acres and are open for tours to some groups in Spring, Summer or Fall.

One of the best Preservation Parks is also located in this area of Delaware County, so be sure to make time to visit Gallant Farm Preserve and Gallant Woods Preserve.  Both are deserving of their own article.

The one, the only, G & R Bologna Sandwich

The one, the only, G & R Bologna Sandwich

After tooling around these townships, you may be hungry.  In 1812, the menu at Wyatt’s Tavern in Norton may or may not have included bologna – it really was around during those days – but today you can sure find it in neighboring Waldo.  The G & R Tavern  has been around for over 50 years now and the bologna sandwich is so famous it made the Chicago Tribune.  When you go (not IF, when!) stop by the ATM first because it is a cash only business.  There’s even more bologna to be found in these parts of the county – stop and visit Ma Wilson’s on your way home.  Now open year round, they are a Delaware favorite and sell many fresh, locally produced products.

If all this local history stuff piques your interest, visit the Delaware County Historical Society and check out the local history room in the Delaware County Public Library.  Happy exploring!

Comments

  1. A correction regarding the Cole Indian culture: in 1947 the Cole family actually made the discovery of ancient bones on their property prior to the dam construction. This led to archaeological research by the Ohio State Museum. The Cole culture was then named for the family.

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