Brooklyn Sun Journal - July 20, 2006

'Friends' explore city's 'Kingdom' for trail links

Staff Writer

The heavily forested area just to the north of the new fire station is officially called "the Oxbow," but the locals know it as "the Kingdom." Kids who grew up in Brooklyn in the '50s, '60s and '70s used it as a playground of sorts, a sylvan retreat that doubled as a home for a variety of wildlife. Streams with all sorts of aquatic life flowed through the woods then converged with the Big Creek on its journey to the Cuyahoga River.

Today, its potential as a vital link between the Metroparks' Brookside and Big Creek Reservations is being explored by both the city of Brooklyn and a grassroots organization called Friends of Big Creek. Bob Gardin, chair of FBC, led a group of city representatives and concerned citizens on a hike Saturday morning. Not only would a proposed Oxbow all-purpose trail link those two Metroparks reservations, but it would also connect to Memphis Avenue and Brooklyn's Civic Center and Memorial Park amenities.

Prior to 1976, that area was owned by Cleveland, and when Brooklyn acquired the land, it was designated "for recreational use only," meaning it couldn't become another housing development. Interestingly enough, the residents who live off of Rabbit Run enjoy the wooded buffer that the Oxbow creates. Even the deer who wander into backyards to munch on hostas and other plants are begrudgingly tolerated because, after all, they're part of the Oxbow ecosystem.

As Gardin and the group trudged over the trails that have been used for decades, one was amazed to see how much of the woodland features remain intact. Sassafras seedlings grow along the trails, and despite some previous visitors leaving their garbage behind and the roar of Interstate 71 just to the north, one might think he was hiking trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area.

© 2006 Sun Newspapers
Reprinted with permission.