The 1,008-acre Silver Creek Metro Park is tucked away in a quiet, rural area near Norton. Observant visitors will see traces of the past. Open fields, fence rows and a stately old barn, part of which dates back to the Civil War, are evidence of the park’s former life as the Harter Dairy Farm. Other park history hides beneath our feet. As coal is an important resource, it was mined in much of this area in the 19th century. Many of these mines closed in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The one-time farm has changed a great deal since Summit Metro Parks acquired the land in 1966. Thousands of trees have been planted, and the bathhouse and 50-acre lake – fed by a spring from an old mine near Wall Road – were built in the early 1990s.
Today, iron-laden water from the mine shafts feeds into Silver Creek, coating the bottom of the stream with reddish-brown iron-oxide. However, fish, frogs and other animals thrive. The open fields are home to woodcocks, meadowlarks and eastern bluebirds. Many butterflies flutter among the flowers and grasses. Hawks circle overhead to hunt rabbits, mice and voles living in the grasses and weeds below. Deer travel among the woods, fields and wetlands. Osprey can be seen hovering and diving into the lake water searching for fish. Tall sycamores grow in soggy areas, and hickory woods grow in drier spots. The beech-maple woods contain spring wildflowers. One of the largest northern red oaks in Summit County – 20 feet in circumference – stands in this park.