The most prominent rock shelter in Gorge Metro Park has been known as Mary Campbell Cave since 1935, even though there’s no evidence that the real Mary Campbell was ever there. According to local legend, a woman named Mary Campbell was captured by the Lenape in the mid-1700s and the tribe camped in the rock shelter. While Mary's name is on the list of captives relinquished to Col. Bouquet at the Treaty of Muskingum in 1763, it is unlikely that the conditions of the rock shelter would have made it an ideal place for a settlement or camp. What we do know for certain is that early European settlers to this area named this remarkable geological feature Old Maid’s Kitchen (which was a common name in the 1800s for many such rock shelters). Because the historical record on Mary Campbell is unclear, the park district is currently in the process of renaming the cave Old Maid's Kitchen.
Thousands of years ago, the Gorge was cut when glacial debris blocked the former route of the Cuyahoga River (near present-day downtown Akron) and caused the river to find a new course. Today, the rushing water flows over a shale riverbed, between ledges made of Sharon conglomerate sandstone. Oak, blackgum, tulip and yellow birch trees are common in the woods that cover the valley walls.
In 1930, the Northern Ohio Traction & Light Company, the predecessor of Ohio Edison, donated 144 acres of this land to Summit Metro Parks. From the 1880s until then, the area hosted parks of a different sort – the High Bridge Glens and Caves and Riverview amusement parks, both of which featured a rollercoaster and dance hall.