I’ve lived in the Jamestown area since fall of 1999, say 14.5 years plenty of time for the locals to trust me and let me in on the little secret located just east of Foote Avenue in the city of Jamestown along Minnow Creek. But no, I had to find out about it on my own. And, oh what a joy that was. I was in awe with the magical beauty that seemed to go on and on and on the day I cross-country skied Allen Park.
Not that I didn’t know about Allen Park – I just didn’t know the real Allen Park. When the ice arena was operational, I went to a few skate shows to watch my beautiful nieces, Jordon, Katie and Samantha, perform. I also participated with my dog Reilly and my friend Vita in a dog walk around the park and the neighboring community to benefit the Humane Society. (I still have the commemorative T-shirt.) And I saw the playground, the ball fields and the ravine with its little babbling brook. It was the ravine that drew me back, back to one of the most enjoyable days I had all winter on my skis.
I have to admit, I was on an information-gathering reconnaissance mission that day. I knew that I was heading to Florida for a couple of months and needed some material from home to write my stories for this column while I was away. The snow was perfect that day, and I decided to take a ride out to Allen Park. Originally, I had planned to ski around the old ice rink and maybe into the woods and then around the perimeter of the ball fields. Then, when I was looking for a place to park, I spied the creek and ravine from a different angle, and it looked very inviting. I parked the car, crossed the road, donned my skis and off I went.
I love little creeks in the winter. The beauty of the moving water and the sparkling icicles along the bank makes me appreciate the wonders of nature. I chose to follow the creek and soon discovered the old swimming pool, lying there in disrepair like a discarded, worn-out shoe. Back in the day, I’m sure the area was well used and enjoyed by many. I made a mental note to make a trip to the Fenton Museum to see what I could learn about the pool. Beyond the pool, I crossed a stone bridge, and the ravine narrowed. The path wasn’t very wide, and in a couple of spots, I had to take off the skis and walk around some tree roots. After a little while, I came to an open area and with a small hill. I skied down towards the creek and then climbed up the bank to cross a street.
Across the street, I saw the band shell and a sign that said, “No Sledding,” even though it looked like a fun, safe hill. I traversed the slope and came out on the left side of the shell, only to see that the path continued on through a wooded area. “Wow,” I thought, “there’s more to this park than what meets the eye.” The path was plenty wide and smooth along this section, and I really enjoyed myself. I was delighted to see the stone “couches” nestled along the sides of the ravine and the stone paths leading down towards the creek. The sun was shining in a clear blue sky, and the snow glistened on the pine trees. It was magical and mystical and totally awesome and right in our back yard.
When I finally came to the end of the line, all I could do was smile like the Cheshire cat. I was almost giddy, thinking about the wonderful time I had already had and the fact that I had to return on the same path, enjoying myself all over again. I felt like a lucky, lucky woman.
We are blessed here in the Chautauqua Watershed blessed to have our lake, our streams, our woods and open spaces. And blessed to have people trying to protect these areas for our children. Do yourself a favor today – take a walk and give thanks to Mother Nature. See you on the trails.
Susan M. Songster Weaver is retired teacher, nature lover and longtime CWC volunteer and supporter. The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local nonprofit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. For more information, call 664-2166 or visit www.chautauquawatershed.org or www.facebook.com/chautauquawatershed.