Special Board Meeting and March Board Meeting Change


The Clermont County Park Board will hold a Special Board Meeting Tuesday March 2, 2021 at Noon, at Pattison Park Lodge. Meeting will convene to go into Executive Session under Ohio Revised Code section 121.22g1, to discuss employee actions concerning hiring, discipline & termination.

Additionally, the date of the regular monthly board meeting for March has been moved to Thursday March 18th at noon. Normally, the park board conducts public meetings at noon on the second Thursday of each month, usually at Pattison Park Lodge. For more information, or to be included on the agenda, call 513-732-2977.

After Over 20 Years, New Faces on Clermont County Park Board


Clermont County Probate Judge James A. Shriver has appointed two new members to the Clermont County Board of Park Commissioners. John Stowell, a long-time resident of Miami Township, and Andrew McAfee, a life-time resident of Union Township have joined David Anspach, who has served on the board since 1997. This year, Anspach will serve as chairman and Stowell as vice chairman.

Stowell and McAfee fill the seats left open by long-time board members Ken Stewart and William Stearns, both of whom retired at the end of 2020.

John Stowell

John is retired from Duke Energy where he served in a number of executive positions, including leading the company’s government affairs, energy and environmental policy and international policy groups. In his 28 years with the company, he worked with Congress to help shape the Clean Air Act of 1990 and repeal the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935. John is originally from Buchanan, Michigan and is a 1975 graduate of Michigan State University, where he majored in journalism. Currently, John lives in Miami Township just outside of Loveland with his wife Marlene. They have two grown children, Maria and Stephen.

Stowell, who describes himself as an avid bicyclist and outdoors lover, said he was anxious, upon his retirement, to contribute toward improving the community. The opening on the park board, he said, provided that opportunity. “My goal as a board member is to help and improve and grow our outstanding county park system,” he said. “I am particularly excited about our latest addition at Grailville, which will bring recreational and educational opportunities to residents in the northern part of our county.”

Andrew McAfee

McAfee is currently the Director of Government Affairs for the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce. Prior to joining the Chamber, he was Congressman Brad Wenstrup’s Field Representative in Clermont County and, during the recent election, took a leave of absence to serve as his campaign manager. Adopted as a baby from Honduras, Andrew is a lifelong resident of Clermont County and currently resides in Union Township. He is a graduate of Glen Este High School, the University of Cincinnati, and is currently working towards a Master’s in Public Administration at Eastern Kentucky University.

Andrew’s interest in Clermont County parks goes back to his childhood. “Growing up, I was a frequent visitor of the parks throughout Clermont County. During the stay-at-home order early last year, I really got to know all of the parks even better as an alternative to the gym. When I saw the opportunity to join the Board, I thought it would be a great way to protect and promote the parks that I have grown to love throughout my life.

“As a young professional in Clermont County, I’m really looking forward to working with the Parks team on ways to promote and highlight all of the great things our parks have to offer, especially to millennials and young families. We have so much to offer here in Clermont County and I cannot wait to help showcase all of our great parks!”

All three commissioners serve three-year terms without pay and provide stewardship over Clermont County’s six parks, three nature preserves, the Williamsburg-Batavia bike trail and several green spaces.


Special Board Meeting February 17 at Noon


The Clermont County Park Board will hold a Special Board Meeting February 17, 2021 at Noon, at Pattison Park Lodge. Meeting will convene to go into Executive Session under Ohio Revised Code section 121.22g1, to discuss employee actions concerning hiring, discipline & termination.

Looking back on 50 years


The past year, our 50th year anniversary, wasn’t quite what we’d expected. As we begin the new year, we take a look back at our once big plans for 2020 and new hopes for the future. For 50 years we’ve been intertwined in the fabric of Clermont County, and we hope to continue to preserve and protect Clermont County’s natural resources for many years to come.

Read more about us and the past 50 years of Park District growth in our 50th Anniversary Booklet below. Even though we didn’t get to give these booklets out at park celebrations as planned, we would love for you to take a look!

Here’s to a Happy New Year!

Robin Green, Lead Naturalist



Gateway to the Great Outdoors: Celebrating 50 Years

For 50 years we’ve been intertwined in the fabric of the Clermont County, one of the institutions helping raise the quality of life for our residents and visitors. For 50 years we’ve provided places where individuals, families and friends can get outside, get active and create lasting memories.

For half a century – as our mission statement says – we’ve worked “to acquire, plan, develop, program and maintain park property in the county for residents and nonresidents alike. To secure the preservation of open space and places of scenic or historic value.”

In 1970 – when the average gallon of gas cost 36 cents – the Park District existed only on paper. It took two years for the former Rotary Club Park in Batavia to be called Sycamore Park and open to the public.

Sycamore remains our biggest – and busiest – park. But we’ve grown to include the adjacent Wilson Nature Preserve, Pattison Park in Owensville, Hartman Log Cabin in Jackson Township, Chilo Lock 34 Park and Visitors Center (and the adjacent Crooked Run Nature Preserve), Kelley Nature Preserve in Miami Township, Shor Park in Union Township and the Williamsburg-Batavia Hike/Bike Trail.

We have partnerships with the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District and the Office of Environmental Quality to protect county waterways and make permanent green spaces.

Clermont County voters overwhelmingly approved a .5-mil, 10-year tax levy in 2016. We are proud of the tangible results produced so far with our strategic stewardship of those funds. Highlights include new picnic shelters, restrooms and playgrounds at Shor, Sycamore and Pattison parks; restoration and painting of the iconic water tower at Chilo Lock 34 Park; upgrades to HVAC and lighting systems at Pattison Lodge, Hartman Log Cabin and the Chilo Lock 34 Park Visitors Center; and the acquisition of 134 acres and buildings on the former Stricker property next to Pattison Park, where we’re making plans for a new Park District headquarters. We look forward to creating new facilities and opportunities at 10-Mile Creek Preserve in Pierce Township and the Grailville Preserve in Loveland. We’re grateful for the first 50 years and hope read more…

The Common Evergreen Tree


Pine, spruce, cedar, fir, hemlock. All of these are evergreen trees but most do not grow naturally in Clermont County. Almost all of our evergreen trees were brought here from somewhere else.

Except for two. Those are the Eastern Redcedar and Northern White-cedar. Instead of the sharp needles you see on pines and many other evergreen trees, their branches bear scale-like leaves that are flattened tightly against the stem. Unless it was planted, almost every cedar tree you’ll find in Clermont County will be the Eastern Redcedar. If you want to be sure, look closely at the scale-like foliage. The White-cedar will have more flattened, denser foliage than the Redcedar.

The Northern White-cedar is rare in the county but you can see the Eastern Redcedar all over the place including at our parks. Known as pioneer trees, Eastern Redcedar are often the first trees to start growing on an empty patch of land. That’s why you’ll find them along highways and in overgrown fields. And this is great for wildlife! Birds and other wildlife use cedar trees year-round for shelter from predators and bad weather.

It may be important to note that neither Redcedar or White-cedar is technically a true cedar (although I’m happy to call them cedars). Cedar trees from the Cedrus genus are not native to North America at all and tend to grow in some mountainous regions of Eurasia.

Whether you bring a live tree inside for the holidays or just enjoy their sharp scent while out on a hike, enjoy the evergreens!

New mileage markers at the Williamsburg to Batavia Hike-Bike trail


An example of the old, faded mileage markers (left), Brendan painting the last marker (center), and part of the team painting a marker (right).

Visitors to the Williamsburg to Batavia Hike-Bike trail will find it easier to navigate their way. Brendan Baker, and his team from Williamsburg Troop 84, painted 60 new mileage markers along the trail for his Eagle Scout project.

He believes the mileage markers will help keep people using the trail safer. “My dad is a firefighter and we thought it would be easier for bikers that have wrecked on the trail” said Brendan. With obvious mileage markers, hikers and bikers can provide the nearest marker number when providing their location. They brought the project to Park District Deputy Director, Tim Carr, who enthusiastically agreed with the idea as the old markers were quite faded.

Brendan with help from his troop, troop leader, and dad spent a total of 111.5-man hours to complete the project. Using long-lasting highway paint, they placed mileage markers every tenth of a mile for the entire 6-mile length of the current trail. Every marker is surrounded by a black box to make the number stand out and help people see where they are going.

Brendan enjoyed the project and especially hearing from “a lot of the nice people that we met on the trail” he said. Many of them were excited to hear that soon they’ll be able to calculate how many miles they’ve been walking on the trail. We at the Park District are so grateful to Brendan and all of Williamsburg Troop 84 for making our trail safer and more enjoyable to use.

Recycle holiday lights while visiting the park


Help us to keep holiday lights out of landfills. We’re partnering with Clermont SWCD, Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District, Cincinnati Nature Center, Pierce Township and Cohen Recycling making it easier to be green over the holiday season.

Now that's a bright ideaAnytime until Feb. 1 2020, free recycling of broken or unwanted holiday lights will be provided at the following Clermont County locations:

  • Sycamore Park, 4082 State Route 132, Batavia, OH 45103

  • Shor Park, 4659 Tealtown Road, Milford 45150

  • Chilo Lock 34 Park, 521 County Park Road, Chilo, OH 45112

  • Pierce Township Administration Office, 950 Locust Corner Road, New Richmond 45157

  • Clermont SWCD/Agricultural Service Center, 1000 Locust Street, Owensville 45160 (Fairgrounds)

  • Clermont County Water Resources , 4400 Haskell Lane, Batavia 45103

  • Cincinnati Nature Center, 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford 45150

If you’re not in Clermont County, check www.cohenusa.com/lights to find a location closest to you. All kinds of string lights are accepted during this event, including traditional and LED-style bulbs. Please place lights only in marked recycling bins, no pre-lit trees or wreaths.

Pirates of the Ohio River


Pirates of the Ohio River
by Ben Morrill, Visitor Center Site Manager

Flatboats traveled around 3 to 4 miles an hour and could carry up to $3,000 worth of goods making them easy targets for river pirates to plunder.

Often when you picture pirates, swashbucklers like Blackbeard and Captain Kidd, sailing the ocean plundering ships are usually what come to mind. But oceans aren’t the only place pirates can be found. As the American frontier opened up river pirates posed a serious threat to settlers moving westward down the Ohio River, lying in wait ready to relieve them of their valuable cargo.

Following the Revolutionary War, many pirates lived near sparsely populated frontier settlements, preying on settlers heading downriver in slow moving keel boats, flat boats, and rafts. Often heavily laden with goods and possessions, pirates often would conceal themselves along the river bank, ready to ambush travelers or use clever deception to get close enough to strike.

Cave-in-Rock provided river pirates with a natural hiding place where they could pounce on unsuspecting travelers on the Ohio River.


As traffic increased along the Ohio River, river pirates found a natural safe-haven in Cave-in Rock. Situated near the meeting point of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in southern Illinois, Cave-in-Rock provided pirates with shelter and natural concealment from unsuspecting settlers and law enforcement, as they pillaged and plundered unwary travelers. From 1790 to 1834, many well-known river pirates including Samuel Mason, the murderous Harpe Brothers, and the infamous Colonel Plug operated in the area.

Notorious Pirates

One of the first river pirates on the Ohio, Samuel Mason served as a captain in the Revolutionary War before moving to Henderson, Kentucky in 1790 and turning to a life of crime. Moving down river in 1797 from his previous hideout on Diamond Island, Mason became the first pirate to operate out of Cave-in-Rock. Mason and his gang regularly used deception, including posing as river guides to run flatboats aground, to prey on travelers. Mason even briefly worked with the deadly Harpe brothers before he was killed in 1803.

Spreading fear across the newly opened western frontier, Micajah “Big” Harpe and his brother Wiley “Little” Harpe terrorized settlers, killing thirty nine people while some reports put the number as high as fifty. Beginning their criminal career as part of a Loyalist group specializing in harassing Patriot families, the Harpe brothers moved west following the British defeat at Yorktown in 1781. Continuing their crime spree, the brothers spent the next several years making their way west while robbing and murdering anyone who crossed their path. In 1797 the Harpes spent a brief period with Samuel Mason, but even he and his gang were disgusted by their ruthlessness. Their misdeeds eventually caught up with them and both Harpe brothers were tracked down by posses who delivered “frontier justice.”

Putting an End to the Pirate Menace

Walter Brennan’s character Colonel Jeb Hawkins in the 1962 film How the West Was Won is based on Ohio River pirates like Samuel Mason.

To combat the pirate menace, flat boats began traveling in small flotillas, often with an armed keelboat as an escort to fend off potential attackers. Meanwhile, newly invented steamboats proved too fast for slow moving pirates to target. With the army and law enforcement stepping up operations against criminals, river piracy on the Ohio began declining in the early 1820s. Although some pirates like James Ford continued operating into the 1830s, piracy on the Ohio was largely eliminated by the 1840s.

River Pirates in Popular Culture

While you won’t see any pirates looking to plunder their boats on the Ohio anymore you can still find them in film and television. Walt Disney’s 1955 Davy Crockett and the River Pirates centers on the “King of the Wild Frontier” facing river pirates loosely based on Colonel Plug and Samuel Mason.  Similarly, Walter Brennan character Colonel Jeb Hawkins in the 1962 film How the West Was Won is portrayed as a Samuel Mason like gang leader, a reminder of the ruthless pirates that once raided the Ohio River.

A Brief History of Steamboats – The End of an Era


A 1927 replica of the first steam locomotive, the Tom Thumb.

A Brief History of Steamboats: The End of an Era
by Ben Morrill, Visitor Center Site Manager

While steamboats revolutionized transportation in the early 1800s, another transportation revolution ultimately spelled the end of the steamboat. By the 1890s, trains and railroads were the most popular method of travel in America, while the emergence of automobiles in the early 1900s provided travelers with greater options to reach their destinations. As a result, steamboats soon became a symbol of a bygone era.

The Emergence of Railroads

The development of practical, functioning steam engines in the 1700s had an important impact on the creation of not just steamboats, but railroads as well. As early as 1764 railways called “gravity roads” were developed to help move heavy items and goods. Throughout the late 1700s inventors like John Fitch began demonstrating the power of steam engines as propulsion systems, and following Robert Fulton’s successful steamboat demonstrations, engineers and inventors began looking for new ways to use the power of steam.

Around the same time steamboats began appearing on the nation’s waterways, early trains were being developed and tested on land. Between 1810 and 1826 early systems like the Leiper Railroad and the Granite Railroad demonstrated the practical applications of railroads, leading to the

An 1890 map showing the westward expansion of railways after the Civil War.

expansion of rail lines in the eastern United States and the eventual development of the Tom Thumb, the first steam powered locomotive.

While steamboats could take advantage of natural transportation routes giving them an advantage over early railroads, miles of track still needed to be built. But thanks to land grants from the United States government, by the 1860s more than 30,000 miles of operational track existed in the US, more than triple the amount that existed in 1850.  Following the end of the Civil War, westward expansion only fueled the growth of rail lines, marking the beginning of the end of the “golden age” of steamboats.

How Railroads Rose in Popularity

The completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 now meant that the United States was connected coast to coast by railways. Rail lines continued to expand across the country throughout the late 1800s, allowing them to reach inland cities and towns steamboats couldn’t. By 1916, more than 254,037 miles of track stretched across the United States.

Trains were also a lot safer and less expensive than steamboat travel. In the late 1800s most workers made around $20 a month, and with long trips costing as much as $8.50 for a first class cabin, many travelers were only able to afford

The Belle of Louisville faces off against the Delta Queen during the 2007 Great Steamboat Race.

deck tickets, often sleeping outside with the cargo. Additionally, river hazards like sandbars, snags, and the threat of unexpected boiler explosions made steamboat travel dangerous, making trains a safer alternative for many travelers.

By the 20th century, trains and automobiles made steamboats all but obsolete, and in the 1950s many shipping companies switched to more efficient and powerful diesel engines. In the later half of the 20th century few steamboats remained on the nation’s waterways, often providing river trips to allow travelers to experience the glamor of the steamboat era. Ships like the Belle of Louisville and the Delta Queen earned their legendary reputations this way, becoming some of the most famous boats on the river. While few steamboats travel the rivers today, they have become an important part of the history and culture of the Ohio River.

A Brief History of Steamboats – The Steamboat Era


The steamboat Enterprise. Built by David French and launched in 1814, the Enterprise was one of the first commercial steamboats on the Ohio River.

A Brief History of Steamboats: The Steamboat Era
by Ben Morrill, Visitor Center Site Manager

Following his success with the Clermont, Fulton and Livingston ambitiously set about to find a way to demonstrate their invention to a national audience with a journey from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. Enlisting the help of inventor Nicholas Roosevelt, great grand uncle to future president Theodore Roosevelt, they set about surveying and exploring the waters of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. After a yearlong expedition in 1809 down the Ohio and Mississippi, construction began on their new vessel in 1810.

Dubbed the New Orleans after the city that would become her home port, construction began in Pittsburgh in 1810. Finishing the following year, estimates put the New Orleans at just over 148 feet long, 32 and a half feet wide, and 12 feet deep, although whether or not the boat was a stern wheeler or side wheeler is still up for debate by historians. Launching in October 1811, the New Orleans began her historic journey down river on October 20th, passing through Cincinnati on October 27th, finally reaching New Orleans January 10, 1812. Although the New Orleans sank two years later, once again Fulton successfully demonstrated the power of steam engines.

A packet boat laded with cargo, ready to set sail.

The Rise of the Steamboat Era

Once again successfully demonstrating of the power of steam engines, Fulton’s work inspired others, sparking a boom for steamboats that lasted well into the 19th century. Production of steamboats continued to grow and in 1826, just fourteen years after the New Orleans successfully completed its journey, there were 143 steamboats on the river. By 1830, there were more than 1200. Demand for steamboats continued to increase and Cincinnati and the surrounding area soon became a hub for steamboats and steamboat production.

Traveling at an average speed of 5 miles an hour and able to travel up river, steamboats proved to be a popular alternative to slower flatboats that often had to be disassembled and sold for scrap at their final destination. More steamboats began appearing on the nation’s waterways and while every steamboat had side or a stern mounted paddlewheel and shallow hull, steamboats featured different designs for specialized tasks and roles. With flat decks and luxurious first class state rooms packet boats transported people and goods up and down river while glamorous showboats provided entertainment and snagboats, with cranes mounted on their bows, helped clear dangerous debris from the river.

An image from Harper’s Weekly depicting the Sultana on fire after her boiler’s exploded.

Despite the popularity of steamboat travel, it was not without its risks. In 1860 alone more than 474 people died travelling on steamboats due to collisions, fires, and boiler explosions. Boiler explosions were the deadliest and the most common disaster on steamboats as the poor construction of many engines along with the high pressure steam engines the boats used could lead to temperature spikes resulting in explosions. Between 1812 and 1865 almost 4,000 passengers perished due to boiler explosions, the deadliest being the Sultana, which resulted in the deaths of 1192 people and is considered to be the worst maritime disaster in United States history.

Following the Civil War, railroads emerged as a cheaper, faster alternative to river travel marking the beginning of the end of the steamboat era in America. Find out more about the decline and end of the steamboat era next week.