A work assignment in early January led me to Quail Hollow State Park, located near Hartville in northeast Ohios Stark County.
Not more than 200 yards into the park a wonderful sight greeted me. Along the roadside stood a small herd of white-tailed deer munching on some winter greens. As my vehicle approached, the deer nonchalantly turned and loped down into a meadow that I later learned was formed by Ice Age glaciers.
Like nearly two-thirds of Ohio, Quail Hollow's landscape is the result of glacial ice that covered the land more than 12,000 years ago. In some places, glaciers gouged the earth leaving behind depressions to fill with melting ice and forming kettle lakes, such as nearby Congress Lake. Over time, however, sediment filled most of these lakes and today they exist as bogs or marshes within the park.
Uplifted lands, part of the Appalachian plateaus building process, were easily smoothed over by the glaciers, leaving behind higher ground to later become meadow and forested land. Within these diverse habitats, Quail Hollow plays host to an abundance of plant and wildlife.
Today, visitors to the park can enjoy walking through a tall-grass prairie like those that once grew across much of Ohio. From March through October the prairie is painted with colorful blooming wildflowers, such as the purple coneflower, butterfly weed, blazing star, goldenrod and a variety of other prairie plants. And within the parks hardwood and pine forests, wildlife such as the red fox, skunk, raccoon, squirrel and white-tailed deer find shelter.
Quail Hollow began its journey to becoming a state park in the early 1900s when the Stewart family began acquiring land in the area, including the pioneer homestead of William Rubright. Rubrights home, built in 1838, was expanded under the Stewarts ownership until it eventually grew to be a 40-room manor house. That manor house is now the focal point of activity at Quail Hollow.
On May 15, 1975, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) created 700-acre Quail Hollow State Park from land generously donated by the Stewart family. Today, the park offers visitors many recreational opportunities, including cross-country skiing, fishing, camping, mountain biking and horseback riding on a variety of bridle trails.
During my visit to Quail Hollow I helped install a camera to capture real-time photos of songbirds feasting at the state parks feeders. For a time this winter, you can visit Quail Hollow State Park without leaving home. Visitors to the ODNR web site at www.ohiodnr.com can click on Birdwatcher Cam and get a birds-eye view of Quail Hollows many feathered friends.
Posing daily for the camera are cardinals, black-capped chickadees, downy woodpeckers, blue jays, finches and sparrows. Birdwatcher Cam even captured a visiting sharp-shinned hawk.
So, keep your computers on and your eyes open
you never know what the camera might catch!