Park program features historical interpreters


(Posted Sept. 22, 2o16)

By Christine Bryant, Staff Writer

Prairie Oaks Metro Park will host a new program that combines enjoying the outdoors with learning about the history of those who lived on the land more than a century ago.

The program, called Hike Back into History, will take visitors on a 2.5-mile guided hike during which they will learn from costumed interpreters about the cultural history of Darby Creek, the prairie, and early settler Jonathan Alder. The event will take place beginning at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 1 at the Darby Bend Lakes entrance to the park at 2755 Amity Road, Hilliard.

Jen Rosa, a naturalist at Prairie Oaks, says visitors should arrive between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., and staff will send hikes out every 15 minutes during that hour.

As they walk the trail, visitors will hear stories of those who once lived in the area, such as the story of a farmer who just began cultivating the land.

“With the invention of the John Deere steel plow, settlers were able to dig up the prairie and begin farming,” Rosa said. “Prairie soil is very rich and good for growing.”

Visitors also will hear from an 1820 frontier woman who will speak about the hardships and illnesses faced by early settlers, a Civil War soldier re-enactor, and Jonathan Alder, who will talk about his adventures on the prairie and Big Darby Creek as he settled in Madison County.

Though the hike is a great way to enjoy the beginning of fall, Rosa says it’s also the perfect opportunity to walk along Big Darby Creek and through the restored prairie and learn about life in the area more than a century ago.

“After the hike, we will invite visitors to visit Foster Chapel Cemetery where Alder is buried,” she said. “The cemetery borders the park on Plain City Georgesville Road.”

New this year, the program stems from the interest of visitors who often ask about the land before it became a Metro Park.

“Especially at Prairie Oaks, we have a Native American mound, and Jonathan Alder’s log cabin actually sat on park property,” Rosa said. “When you read the stories of Jonathan Alder learning to hunt buffalo from the Native Americans, that actually happened in the park. It’s pretty amazing that the land is full of such rich history and most people probably have no idea.”

Ron Demmy, who works maintenance at the park and is an interpreter, helped to put the program together and has recruited several of his friends to volunteer that day.

“We also have a staff member from the 1880 historical farm at Slate Run who will be helping,” Rosa said. “It’s a wonderful mix of employees and volunteers, all wanting to tell the story of the land and Madison County.”

The Hike Back into History program is free, and no reservations are needed.

Go to for additional information.


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