415 S. Vandemark Rd.
Mail: 201 W. Poplar St.
Sidney, OH 45365
Parks and Recreation Director:
Phone: (937) 498-8105
Fax: (937) 498-8109
HISTORY OF TAWAWA PARK (Research completed by Cheryl Michaels and Janet Ross 2009 with Additional Contributions from Patrick Milligan- 1 and Contribution from Shelby County Historical Society- 2)
Tawawa Park was established May 24, 1948 under the guidance of the Tawawa Civic Park Trustees. The park was named after Tawawa Creek, which runs through the park. The original members of this group were, Cecil Watkins, William Milligan, Murray A. Ferguson, W.E. Whipp, J. Oliver Amos, Wayne Bertsch, and Jerome Wagner. These civic-minded citizens wished to establish a park and recreational playground for the use and benefit of the citizens of Sidney, Ohio.
The park consists of 220 wooded acres which includes two lakes (Tawawa and Amos). Tawawa Park was deeded to the City of Sidney on March 28, 1956. It was dedicated to Sidney area citizens on June 3, 1956. Tawawa Park is located at 12 Tawawa Drive.
After the "Big Four" Railroad was relocated in the early 1920's the abandoned road bed became a popular hiking trail, especially to the lake to fish and to Big Rock. Walking along the tow path of the canal was also a favorite in the spring and fall of the year. The Kah family owned the land and there was much speculation that the Kah family had plans to develop the land for housing which caused concern to many who thought the highest and best use for the land would be a park for the community. (1)
Shortly after World War 2 ended the Kah family put the land up for sale for $15,000. In order to secure the land for a park, Bill Milligan made a list of 15 people (all of whom have areas named for them)whom he thought he could get a thousand dollars from each and then purchase the land. It was his thought to get control of the land first, and then put together a plan for its development. Milligan's first "ask" was to Wendal Whipp, President of Monarch Machine Tool Company. After hearing Milligan's idea Whipp wrote a check for the $15,000 and said "Bill, go buy the land and then go to the others for their money and let's get this project started". And he did. (1)
In the early development of the Park, the Park Board wanted to open up the canal for canoeing, which meant an outlet for the water was necessary. The original "Sidney Electric Company" building on Brooklyn Av was (and still is) standing. It had housed an electric generator which originally had been powered by overflow water from the canal. Work began to open the canal and outlet the water through the "abandoned" electric generating building. However, in the winter of 1948(?) during a January thaw there was a heavy rain that saturated the high bank along SR 47 (Riverside Drive) which breached and flooded the Brunner filling station on the north side of the road. A long law suit ensued, during which time all work on the Park was suspended. The jury agreed that the breach was an act of God and not caused by the Park Board, and so work was continued. The original idea was abandoned and the canal was filled in from Tawawa Lake to the highway and an outlet was installed under the road bed to Tawawa Creek.
Aschenbach Grove is located in Tawawa Park adjacent to Ward Trail. It was named in honor of Rueben Aschenbach who served on the Tawawa Civic Park Board. Later, Mr. Aschenbach was appointed by then Mayor Emerson Deam to serve on the Sidney Recreation Commission. He served on the commission until August 1958.
BAUMBGARDNER BASIN (see webpage)
Beanblossom Mooring is located in Tawawa Park near Tawawa Lake. It consists of a shelter and picnic area on the southwest part of the lake. Beanblossom Mooring was named in honor of Robert Beanblossom. Mr. Beanblossom was a member of the Sidney Recreation Committee for many years and at one time served as the chairman of the committee.
ANDERSON BOTTOM LAND
A shelter area located in Tawawa Park adjacent to Benjamin Trail, Anderson’s Bottom Land was named in honor of Tom Anderson. Mr. Anderson served on the board of the Sidney Recreation Commission, of which he was a charter member. He was a member of the board from 1952 to 1961. Mr. Anderson was also active in the Boy Scouts and was an outdoor enthusiast.
Baker Range is located at the southeast end of Whipp Road in Tawawa Park. This area of the park was named in 1970 in honor of William Baker, a charter member of the Tawawa Civic Park Board.
Bertsch Hill is located in Tawawa Park and was formerly known as “Badgers Bluff.” On November 25, 1974, it was officially renamed “Bertsch’s Hill” in honor of Wayne Bertsch. Mr. Bertsch was a charter member of the Tawawa Civic Park Board. In 1952, Mr. Bertsch was appointed to the Sidney Recreation Commission by then Mayor Emerson Deam. Bertsch’s Hill is claimed by some to be the second highest point in the state.
Brookside Park is bordered on the north by Tawawa Creek, to the east by Knoop-Johnston Road, with the southern boundary being the remnant of the Big Four rail line that was used prior to the Big Four Bridge being built on the south end of Sidney. At one point in history, it was used by the National Guard Armory, with the concrete bunker for firing range still intact on the property. This 27-acre parcel is a continuation of Tawawa Park, making the total area for the civic park more than 220 acres.
In 1949, Mary Marx and her husband sold 35 acres to the Sidney Ohio Local Girl Scouts; this area became known as Camp Brookside. According to county records, in 1955 Tawawa Civic Park Inc. purchased around 7 acres of adjacent real estate, now Bakers Range and Watkins Woods. In 1962, the Sidney Community Foundation took over the remaining property from the local Girl Scout organization, allowing the Girl Scouts to utilize the property as long as they wanted. In the fall of 2009, the City of Sidney acquired the property to develop it into the nature preserve that it is today. With over 1.5 miles of trails, overlooks, shelters, old wood forests, and meadows, this parcel of land is enjoyed by many on a daily basis.
Formal dedication of Brookside was held on October 15, 2011 with local dignitaries, Girl Scout representatives and many citizens participating in the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Ferguson Circle in located in Tawawa park beside McDowell Trace. It was named in honor of Murray A. Ferguson, a charter member of the Tawawa Civic Park Board. Mr. Ferguson, a general contractor, originated the idea of a civic park for the citizens of Sidney.
FLANAGAN SPORTS COMPLEX (see webpage)
Kaser Dell is located just west of Wagner Glade in Tawawa Park. Kaser Dell was named (1970) in honor of Robert Kaser, an outstanding citizen of Sidney who served as a state representative for six years. In addition, Mr. Kaser was active in several civic capacities including City Council, mayor of Sidney (8 years), chairman of the Charter Review Commission as well as past president of the Sidney Chamber of Commerce.
Kastner’s Patch is located in Tawawa Park. It was named in honor of Mrs. Florence Kastner who was a member of the Sidney Recreation Commission. She was appointed to the commission in 1952 by then Mayor, Emerson Deam. She also served as secretary of the commission and continued serving on the commission until 1958.
LANDRUM SOCCER FIELDS (see webpage)
McDowell Trace is located in Tawawa Park. This area of the park was named (1972) in honor of Kenneth McDowell who was instrumental in the early development of Tawawa Park and was secretary of the Tawawa Civic Park Trustees from 1948 to 1951. He was active in civic affairs as well as being a past member of the City Planning Commission and the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. Mr. McDowell became the 11th individual to have a section of Tawawa Park named after him.
The picnic area near the dam on Mosquito (Tawawa) Creek at the east end of Tawawa Park is named Meyer Meadow. This section of the park was named in 1967 in honor of Oscar Meyer, a member of Tawawa Civic Park, Inc. Mr. Meyer did much of the early excavation in laying out the design of the park.
Milligan Glen is located in Tawawa Park, and this area of the park was named (1966) in honor of William Milligan. Mr. Milligan was a charter member of the Tawawa Civic Park Board. He served as its president from 1948 to 1956. In 1964, Mrs. Margaret Milligan gifted a twenty acre tract of land adjacent to the north side of Tawawa Park to the City. This land was gifted in memory of her husband who had the vision for Tawawa Civic Park.
Emmett Lerch was appointed in 1957 by the Sidney City School Board of Education to serve as its representative on the Sidney Recreation Commission. Mr. Lerch was the chairman of the commission for many years. Lerch’s Nook, located near the east end of Whipp Road, was named in honor of his dedication to Sidney’s parks and recreational opportunities for the city’s residents.
O’Leary’s Niche is located in Tawawa Park just south of Kaser Dell. O’Leary’s Niche was named in honor of Frank O’Leary. Mr. O’Leary was appointed to the Sidney Recreation Commission in August of 1958. He served dutifully on the commission for nine years before resigning in 1967.
Pointner Knoll is located in Tawawa Park. It is the round hill above the picnic area at the end of the main road (Whipp Road). The knoll was named (1967) in honor of Norbert Pointner, a member of the Tawawa Civic Park Board. Mr. Pointner was responsible for the sign at the entrance to Tawawa Park.
Wagner Glade is located in Tawawa Park. It is the first large picnic area on the north side of the main road. Wagner Glade was named (1967) in honor of Jerome Wagner. Mr. Wagner was a charter member of the Tawawa Civic Park Board, as well as chairman of the Wilson Memorial Hospital Building Fund and a board member of First Federal Savings and Loan Association. Mr. Wagner was also a charter member of the Sidney Community Foundation and a vice president of Wagner Manufacturing Company. (2)
Cecil Watkins was one of the original members and chairman of the Tawawa Civic Park Trustees, which was organized in 1948. He later served as a member of Tawawa Civic Park, Inc. He was one of the first to advocate the purchase of land for Tawawa Park. The picnic area at the end of the main road, Tawawa Drive, was named in 1967 to honor Mr. Watkins for his vision and efforts in making the park what it is today. In addition, Mr. Watkins was an executive with Amos Press and was an IUTIS Club founding member.
Willman Place is located in Tawawa Park close to Milligan Glen. It was named in honor of E.M. Willman. Mr. Willman was a longstanding member of the Sidney Recreation Commission and served as its chairman in 1967. Mr. Willman suggested at a 1967 commission meeting to name specific areas of Tawawa Park in honor of the men active in its development. These men were the original board members of the Tawawa Civic Park Board.
Young’s Cove is located in Tawawa Park beside Mill Race Cove. Young’s Cove was named in honor of Donald Young who served as a board member of the Tawawa Civic Board.
PARK ROADS, TRAILS, WATERWAYS, BRIDGES & LANDMARKS
The main drive through Tawawa Park is Whipp Road named in honor of Wendell Whipp, an original member of the Tawawa Civic Park Trustees. Mr. Whipp was president of the Monarch Machine Tool Co. and gave personal financial backing for 26 years to establish and maintain the park. He also served as executive secretary of the Sidney Civic Association.
Ross Bridge is located in Tawawa Park. It was named (1974) in honor of William Ross, Jr. who served on the Sidney Recreation Commission for 14 years from 1958 to 1972. Mr. Ross generously donated all finances to erect the bridge. The bridge closely resembles several covered bridges constructed in Central Ohio by pioneer bridge designer and builder, Rueben L. Partridge (1823-1900). Mr. Ross also suggested that a plaque be installed on the bridge including names of all those who were involved in its development and construction. It was Mr. Ross’s wish that only his last name be used in naming the bridge.
Davis Bridge is the footbridge spanning Tawawa Creek and connects the Softball Complex with the soccer fields in Baumgardner Basin. Davis Bridge was named (1996) in honor of Corliss (Corky) Davis. Mr. Davis served 25 years on the Sidney Recreation Board. Prior to that, he was a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. He helped start “slo-pitch” softball in Sidney in the mid-1950’s. Corky also was instrumental in initiating the VESPA Club.
WEBSTER GEIB PAVILION
The Webster Geib Pavilion is located in the Baumgardner Basin at Tawawa Park. It was named (1993) in honor of Webster Geib who served for 25 years as a member of the Parks and Recreation Board. Mr. Geib was not only a member of the board, but at one time served as the board’s chairman.
“Big Rock” (glacial rock left from the ice age) is located in Tawawa Park and was established in 1876. It is located just off Ward Trail. “Big Rock” located in the park was established in 1876 and is an object of interest to visitors. The following is reprinted from the Sidney Journal, February 25, 1876:
“A few years ago some of the stone cutters employed on the Monumental Building being prevented by want of stone from following their ordinary advocation, entertained the idea of celebrating the Centennial year and handing their names down to posterity. In order to execute this double purpose, they possessed themselves of their instruments of trade and proceeded to “Big Rock” about a mile and a half east of town. The result of their labors was the inscription of the National Shield, under which stands the names of Dr. H.S. Conklin, William Binkley, and G.W. Moeller. Following these comes the names of the artists in stone as follows: George Erhart, John Cook, Fred Peters, D.A. Plant, Michael Strickfaden, and Harmon Michaelis. Under this comes “1876” so that future travelers on the “sands of time,” when the present generation has paid its debt of nature, may know the year in which the artists executed their work.”
Amos Lake is located in Tawawa Park on the north side of the main road. It was named (1967) in honor of J. Oliver Amos, a charter member of the Tawawa Civic Park Board. Mr. Amos was an active member of the community for several years.
Benjamin Trail is located in Tawawa Park and is the path running the length of the mill race. It was named (1976) in honor of Charles Benjamin, Jr., a charter member of the Tawawa Civic Board. Mr. Benjamin was a constant worker for the improvement of the park area and was known as “Mr. Tawawa.”
TRAIL TO EAGLE
Trail to Eagle is named to honor all of the Eagle Scouts that have contributed by completing an Eagle Scout Project in the City of Sidney’s Parks System. The City’s Parks Department collaborated with the local Scouting troops to develop this name, and dedicated the trail in March of 2010. The path was constructed in 2005 as an Eagle Scout project for Andrew Frantz, and took over 300 man-hours to clear. Mr. Frantz was a member of Troop 97, with Thomas Frantz as the Unit’s Leader. The trail traverses through the woods on the north side of Tawawa Creek (AKA Mosquito Creek) from the Ross Bridge west towards Landrum Soccer Fields. Other contributors to the success of this project were; Jon Yost, Steve Baker, Troy Baker, Paul Miller, Devin Yost, Jim Yost, Chris Rossman, Zach Rossman, Robert Frantz, Nick Frantz, Tom Frantz, Jeff Frantz, Nathan Stevenson, Jason Barhorst, Zach Frantz, Chris Frantz, Kevin Sohnly, Kelsey Rossman, Steven Billups, Chase Rossman, Zach Hemmert, Stuart Hemmert, Kym Maxwell, Sean Trabue, Zach Travis, Zane Travis, Dave Travis, Robert Brun, Jody Sheperd, Eva Mullen, Dave Billups.
VETERANS MEMORIAL WALKWAY
Veterans Memorial Walkway is a paved walkway honoring our veterans. At an October 4, 1993, Sidney Recreation Board meeting, board members agreed the walkway should be named “Veterans Memorial Walkway.”
Ward Trail, located in Tawawa Park, is the path from the main road (Whipp Road) to Big Rock. Ward Trail was named (1967) in honor of Virgil Ward, an original member of the Tawawa Civic Board. Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Ward deeded five acres of land adjacent to the east end of Tawawa Park to the City of Sidney in 1970.