Driving around Upper Arlington with my parents as a middle schooler and teenager, I liked looking at the homes, visiting all three branches of the Upper Arlington Public Library, and picking out new cross stitch projects at Cross My Heart. I got to know the area a little better the summer after I graduated from CSG, both when I helped a very special lawn care entrepreneur identify prospects for expanding his grass-cutting route and when I hung on when his brother raced around the neighborhood in his Honda CRX that Fourth of July. But I didn’t know much about Upper Arlington’s history until I participated in Adventure UA.
This fall, the Upper Arlington Public Library and the City of Upper Arlington organized Adventure UA, a six-week, community-wide event that challenged competitors to find out more about Upper Arlington. Teams of two to six family members or friends explored the community by completing weekly challenges. Teams were awarded points for each completed task; they could also earn extra credit for completing additional tasks. Each week, teams completing a challenge were entered into a drawing for prizes; one week, our team won three $10 Chipotle gift cards. At a final tie-breaking event for the top five teams on November 6, a prize will be awarded to the team earning the most points.
Our triumvirate became Team “Thousand Acres” for the challenge. How did we come up with our name? Upper Arlington was originally planned and developed by two brothers, King and Ben Thompson, who purchased 1,000 acres northwest of Columbus from James T. Miller on December 24, 1913. King, a local real estate entrepreneur, wanted a piece of property that was large enough to develop a suburban community that incorporated his theories of land use and development standards. In “A Thousand Acres of Restricted Land,” King proposed his development for a distinctive section of residences that were planned for the future, but adhered to current ideas about building artistic homes and developing their surroundings.
Our adventure started the week of September 12, with a challenge to find the park formerly known as Lane Road Park. In 2005, it was renamed Thompson Park in honor of former Parks and Recreation Director Ken Thompson, who installed large mounds all around the park’s grounds. We also had to submit a photo of at least one team member using one of the stops on the park’s fitness trail.
The next week, several clues about the identity of John W. Galbreath led us to Upper Arlington’s Wall of Honor, located at the Municipal Services Center, to take a photo of a team member with the plaque honoring Mr. Galbreath. While we were there, we started working on the second challenge. After taking a photo with the plaque that was 12th in line, we read that Woody Hayes had once lived on Cardiff Road. Then we were off to Cardiff Woods Park, another place we’d never been, where you can find haiku poetry. To complete the challenge, we composed a haiku in Woody’s honor: “Walking down Cardiff/Woody thought he’d likely win/All Michigan games.”
In Week Three’s challenges, we had to share John Chapman’s famous nickname and what type of trees he planted throughout Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. To wrap up that part of the challenge, we had to find two statues of Johnny Appleseed in Upper Arlington: one in the library’s Youth Department and the other at the Giant Eagle Market District.
For the second part of that week’s challenge, we learned that you can play the Roman game of bocce ball at the Upper Arlington Senior Center, and discovered that you can find remains of brachiopods in Smith Nature Park. Roger became an honorary member of our team when we had to track down the Amelita Mirolo Barn and fishing pond at Sunny 95 Park. Roger brought along his fishing pole and the fish I knitted for him for his birthday so that Nails could earn some extra points for the challenge.
History of Upper Arlington provided answers to several challenge questions. For example, we learned that the first Upper Arlington school was held in the basement playroom of King Thompson’s home during 1917-1918. The book also revealed information about Upper Arlington’s streetcar service and three shopping centers that we had to visit and document by taking a photograph of our team in front of their distinctive landmarks.
The library’s collection of online databases made fact-finding fast and easy. For example, we used the Upper Arlington Archives’ database to discover that Jimmy Crum, sports announcer for WCMH-TV and an Upper Arlington resident, was one of three people who donated a nine-foot stuffed brown bear captured on a hunting expedition in Kodiak, Alaska to Upper Arlington High School in 1956.
Before Upper Arlington was settled, the land was occupied by the Wyandot tribe, so Wyandot Indians were the subject of the final week’s challenges. We traveled to Wyandot Hill Park to take our photo with the memorial to Bill Moose, the last Wyandot to reside in the area who died in 1937. Looking at the Ohio historical marker located near the monument, we learned that U.S. Route 33 was once known as the Scioto Trail and was used by the Wyandots as a trail for warfare, trade and migration. We also learned about the Wyandot Chief Shateyaronyah, also known as Leatherlips, who was executed as a result of his efforts to keep the peace between his tribe and the new settlers.
In the second challenge for the week, we discovered that in 1916, the Ohio National Guard created a training camp in the area now known as Upper Arlington. Named for Ohio Governor Frank Bartlett Willis, Camp Willis trained guardsmen to protect the Mexican border. After visiting the memorial dedicated to Camp Willis at Mallway Park, we saw the Elemental Gardens at Reed Road Park, where there’s a clever interactive fountain designed by an Upper Arlington resident and named for Egeria, the Greek goddess who bestowed wisdom in return for libations of water.
Adventure UA offered a great combination of history, recreation, education, and even bibliographic instruction. We discovered a lot we didn’t know about the Thousand Acres of Upper Arlington.