Beginning in February, Summit Metro Parks will host special programs every month in or about Gorge Metro Park, located in Cuyahoga Falls and Akron, where there is a push to remove an obsolete 105-year-old concrete dam.
The "Free the Falls" series already includes a number of hikes and talks through May, and more will be scheduled for summer and fall. The series name refers to the city's namesake falls, which have been buried beneath the dam pool for generations.
Said to be the biggest impediment to a cleaner and healthier Cuyahoga River, the 429-foot-wide and 57-foot-tall Gorge Dam was built in 1911 and 1912 to generate power. Hydropower operations ceased in 1958, and the dam pool last provided cooling to a nearby coal-fired plant until 1991. Meanwhile, dams in Kent, Munroe Falls and elsewhere in Cuyahoga Falls have been removed or modified in recent years.
Unless otherwise indicated, the following events will begin in Gorge Metro Park, at 1160 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls:
Saturday, Feb. 18, 10 a.m.-noon -- GEOLOGY OF THE GORGE
Join a naturalist to learn how the different rock layers in the park were formed, and about the forces that have shaped those rocks ever since.
Thursday, Feb. 23, 1-3 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 26, 1-3 p.m. -- CRYSTAL PALACE HIKE
Every year beautiful, colorful icicles form along the Cuyahoga River, creating a "Crystal Palace."
Join a naturalist and discover first-hand the beauty of water in winter. We'll still hike if there's no snow or ice.
Thursday, March 16, 2-3:30 p.m. -- GORGE HISTORY HIKE
Hike with a naturalist and learn about the history of the Gorge.
Thursday, March 30, 6-7 p.m. -- BRINGING DOWN THE DAM
Hear the interwoven story of the Gorge Dam, the Cuyahoga River and Gorge Metro Park. The power of gravity, scenic beauty, competing economies, contamination and restoration. Location: F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm Visitors Center at 1828 Smith Road, Akron.
For more information about these programs, call 330-865-8065 or visit summitmetroparks.org.
To schedule a program or presentation about the Gorge Dam for a civic, school or church group, email Elaine Marsh, watershed specialist, at emarsh@ summitmetroparks.org.