By Kimber Caito, Media Coordinator, Fairfield County Park District
Soon! The two new trails at Mambourg Park will be opened to the public! Both are natural, unpaved trails that may be considered easy-to-moderate. The Oak trail is approximately 1-mile long. Pets are welcome on the Hickory trail which is about 1.5 miles.
THEN (before 2017) This absolutely beautiful 116-acre site was acquired in 2003 by donation from the Board of County Commissioners of Fairfield County. It is in the east-central part of the county, just seven miles east of downtown Lancaster on US-22.
In the center of the property is a building that was constructed in 1931 by Robert Mambourg. It is a wonderful example of mortise-and-tenon construction. The glass for the original large windows was made to the strict specifications of Nestor Mambourg, the founder of Pleasantville Glass Company. It came to be the family’s country retreat and a place many locals remember visiting for holiday parties.
Having been empty a few years, the house was falling into disrepair. Raccoons and other wildlife found ways to enter the building, causing bad odors and damage. Flooring had begun to rot. Basically, time was taking its toll.
Many reminisce about ice skating on the pond that was next to the lodge. The pond filled with sediment and the dam was breached. The place looked abandoned.
NOW (2017-2020) A master plan for the development of Mambourg Park was created. In April 2019, an open house at the Park office was held. People came to see the plan and a 3D visual display of the park’s layout and topographical maps. Their comments were welcomed and taken into consideration.
One of the first projects at Mambourg Park was to restore the pond. The dam was repaired, and the pond was excavated. The small stream that runs through the park is a tributary of Raccoon Run; it feeds the pond. As the pond filled with water, animals were attracted to it. Soon, two-lined salamanders were found. Because water and air pass easily through their skin, making them susceptible to toxins or adverse changes in the environment, finding them is an indicator of good water quality.
In summer 2019, a small front parking lot was installed and paved. The two trails were planned and cut in and footbridges were built over the stream and ravines. Later, the entrance will be landscaped with native plants. When indigenous plants are established, they need very little maintenance, help the climate, conserve water, and attract and support native wildlife.
Then the pandemic hit. In the spring of 2020, things briefly came to a halt. As adaptations were made and work resumed, an entry road from the front and a larger parking lot near the nature center were built and paved. Although things were being done to the building during this time, efforts really sped up in the winter – the renovation was truly underway! Windows were replaced. A wildlife viewing area was enclosed. Wood siding on the front gable that had warped was replaced. Sagging at the front entrance was found to be caused by a rotted support beam; that was replaced. The massive mantle over the interior fireplace was restored. Plumbing, electric, flooring, light fixtures, interior finish work, all of it finally came to be completed in the spring of this year!
Although the rest of the park is not yet fully developed, the Johnson and Hannaway bridges can be enjoyed here.
THEN (Before 2017) Two Glaciers Park was acquired in three parcels at different times using Clean Ohio grant funds and landowners’ matches. Johnson Covered Bridge needed repairs to the canopy. Not long after that, a
complete renovation saved it for future generations to enjoy! A parking lot was constructed, benches were installed next to Clear Creek, and a couple picnic tables were added. It is a peaceful getaway just minutes from downtown Lancaster!
NOW (2017-Present) The heavy spring rains of 2017 created an emergency situation! Clear Creek flood waters carried a large tree downstream that smashed into Hannaway Covered Bridge and knocked her off the abutments! A complete restoration was necessary. In 2020, a master plan for Two Glaciers Park was developed. Park neighbors and County residents were invited to an open house to view and discuss the plan.
TOMORROW. The former private lodge is now Mambourg Nature Center! It will be used for nature education and observation. Although there have been many updates, the original character of the building has been preserved. Wildlife attracted to the pond and feeding areas can be watched comfortably from the observation area.
Funding for Fairfield County Park District is provided by a levy. Those funds allowed us to develop Mambourg Park for public use. It also supports the operation of Rock Mill and Wahkeena Nature Preserve. Development of new parkland locations such as Wagner Preserve (heron rookery), Hansel Park (including a dog park), and Stoney Hill Park are planned. Plans for the next 10 years include adding picnic shelters and permanent restrooms to parks, maintaining covered bridges and other historical structures in the District, adding and improving trails, continuing educational programs and public events!
THANK YOU to Fairfield County residents, for supporting Fairfield County Park District! We appreciate you and the trust you have placed in us, permitting us to care for the more than 1,046 acres of important and beautiful parklands in Fairfield County.
Get Out to Explore & Discover your Fairfield County Parks! Find this and other locations at fairfieldcountyparks.org.
More from the Then, Now, Tomorrow series: