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Published: Thursday, 9/29/2005

Savor the stories of the Black Swamp

BY RYAN E. SMITH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It may have been nasty, but it was ours.

Locals are invited to celebrate the heritage of the Black Swamp, which covered a broad area from Sandusky to Fort Wayne, Ind., well into the 1800s, this weekend at Pearson Metropark in Oregon.

Not that the swamp may have seemed something to celebrate for settlers who encountered it.

"The Black Swamp, it was an awful place. It was a thick woods full of disease and mosquitoes, and people making their way through here reported being able to travel maybe only a mile a day," said Scott Carpenter, a Metroparks spokesman.

Visitors to the park at 4600 Starr Ave. will be able to meet historical interpreters depicting people from the swamp era during a Black Swamp Lantern Tour Saturday night. Tours begin at 7 p.m. at the Packer-Hammersmith Center and cost $3 per person. Reservations are needed by tomorrow and may be made by calling 419-407-9741.

Some of the portrayals will be touching or funny, but all of them are based on real people, Carpenter said.

On Sunday, the park will host its annual Black Swamp Festival from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Packer-Hammersmith Center. There will be entertainment by Lucy Long and the Root Cellar Old Time String Band and plenty of food for a nominal fee. Other activities include children's games, a Native American cooking demonstration, and butter churning.

A guided walk will take place at 1:30 p.m. and will count as part of the Autumn Adventure program, in which people try and complete eight hiking trails in September and October.

Carpenter said it's worth noting that trails people will be walking are the same ones that were closed for several months while the state did its ash tree removal as part of efforts to eradicate the emerald ash borer.

"The trails are open and have been repaired. For some folks, it will be their first chance back on those trials," Carpenter said.

The Black Swamp Lantern Tour and Black Swamp Festival take place Saturday and Sunday in Pearson Metropark in Oregon. Information: 419-407-9741 or www.metroparkstoledo.com.

Contact Ryan E. Smith at:

ryansmith@theblade.com

or 419-724-6103.



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