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Rocks and Waters: Cleveland Heights deep history
by Roy Larick, Bluestone Heights
Each May, since 2002, Cleveland Heights ...
Humans The Euro-American role in landscape change began
in June 1797, when the Connecticut Land Co. made a complete
survey...
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Rocks and Waters walking tours

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Each May, since 2002, Cleveland Heights has celebrated National Preservation Month. Since 2013, the activities have featured a walking tour series called Cleveland Heights Rocks and Waters. The tours pose questions about the places in which we live. How does a neighborhood landscape come to be? What does nature provide? Can humans live in ways to honor the gift?

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Rocks and Waters walking tours

  1. 1. Rocks and Waters: Cleveland Heights deep history by Roy Larick, Bluestone Heights Each May, since 2002, Cleveland Heights has celebrated National Preservation Month. Since 2013, the annual activities have featured a walking tour series called Cleveland Heights Rocks and Waters. The tours pose questions about the places in which we live. How does a neighborhood landscape come to be? What does nature provide? Can humans live in ways to honor the gift? Rocks and Waters finds answers along neighborhood stream courses. At such places, natural and human forces combine to shape landscapes. The resulting mixture always makes for an intriguing visit. On such visits, we gain insights on local life issues and on the good and bad of place planning. We see what once was, what we now have, and how it could be better. Deep History Rocks and Waters looks for the elemental forces giving rise to natural landforms. We also seek the weave of natural and human actions that make current places special—and sometimes startling. Stated simply, the walks explore the deep history of small-scale Heights landscapes. On the East Side, the Portage Escarpment is the primary natural feature. It forms the local transition between North America’s Central Lowland and Appalachian Highland. Cleveland Heights sits squarely on the escarpment. We can comprehend the place from two perspectives of nature: how the landforms arose and how current streams take them down. Landforms The old forces that shaped Portage Escarpment landforms included bedrock deposition, tectonic uplift and glaciation. Local bedrock includes two hard sandstone beds: the Euclid bluestone and the Berea Sandstone. Glacial action carved out two narrow terraces upon these beds: the bluestone terrace and, just above, the sandstone terrace. As the Euclid bluestone is found only on the East Side, the bluestone terrace is a uniquely Heights landform. Streams Within the city, three creeks cut through the terraces on their ways to Lake Erie: Doan Brook, the Dugway Brooks (west and east branches) and Nine Mile Creek. The stream ravines evince the power of water to tear down. As such, the ravines are windows into the old bedrock-making forces. The streams have small headwater tributaries in Cleveland Heights, three of which are the basis for walking tours: Blue Rock Brook (Doan), Compton Run (Dugway east) and Quilliams Creek (Nine Mile). Two other walks cover trunk stream segments of Dugway’s east and west branches. Portage Escarpment with select Heights suburbs. May 2013: Barrow & Larick begin the Blue Rock Brook walk. Portage Escarpment with Rocks and Waters stream areas. Portage Escarpment bedrock and stream profile. Dave Lawrence
  2. 2. Humans The Euro-American role in landscape change began in June 1797, when the Connecticut Land Co. made a complete survey of Euclid Township. Euclid then covered almost all of the Heights north of Cedar Road. The survey divided township into scores of 160-acre lots. Some of our roads take their names from early lot owners. Early settlers sometimes used the survey lines as roadways. Cedar, Mayfield Hill and Fairmount are prominent east-west survey line roads. Demington, Lee, Taylor and Warrensville represent major north-south lines. Two centuries later, these old tracks still define municipal boundaries, residential neighborhoods and daily commutes. Early settlers used the local streams for the needs of farming. Later developers prized the picturesque landscapes for platting classy residential allotments. As a result, the walks cover significant historic districts: Euclid Heights (Blue Rock), Grant Deming’s Forest Hill Neighborhood (Dugway west), Mayfield Heights (Dugway east), Forest Hill Park (Compton) and Nela Park (Quilliams). We also see many individual landmark structures. Collective Effort Rocks and Waters has grown with the help of passionate individuals. In 2013, William Barrow (CH Historical Society) and Roy Larick (Bluestone Heights) assembled the Blue Rock Brook walk. Kara O’Donnell (CH Planning Dept) and Mazie Adams (CH HS & Landmark Comm.) made it part of Preservation Month. Thus the series began. In 2014, Korbi Roberts (CH HS) and Jim Miller came on board to talk about historical and environmental issues, respectively. Dave Lawrence is the series photographer. Perspective Rocks and Waters seeks the long perspective on the evolving Heights landscape. We ask three basic questions: Can we continue to identify with treasured landmarks? Can local streams become ecological assets? Can urban planning serve to rebalance, more equitably, the life-sustaining needs of humans and nature? Join us each May. Comprehend the landscape at ground level. Help forge the collaborative insights upon which Heights neighborhoods may redevelop green and preserve heritage. Cleveland Heights Rocks and Waters: online resources 2013: Blue Rock Brook/Turkey Ridge 2014: Dugway Brook east branch 2015: Dugway Brook west branch 2016: Quilliams Creek 2017: Compton Run Conn. Land Co. June 1797 survey lines still in use: white = municipal lines (excluding diagonals); yellow = roads. Survey line roads do not cross the terraced areas. The terrain is too steep for straight line traverses. May 2014: Korbi Roberts talks local history on a cold, rainy day at Dugway Brook east branch. May 2016: William Quilliams house (1867) on Quilliams Creek. Cleveland Heights landmark. Dave Lawrence Dave Lawrence © 2016 Bluestone Heights

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