Eldon Russell Park is a 132-acre parcel located in Troy Township along the Upper Cuyahoga River, a state-designated Scenic River. It is Geauga Park District's intent to protect this natural area in
In 1901, Burton resident Pace Latham sought to establish large-scale onion farming here.
To do so, he attempted to deepen and straighten the Cuyahoga River, draining the rich soil of the surrounding
wetlands. Well into the dredging project, it was realized that a natural rock dam downstream at Hiram Rapids would still impede flow of water. Hired ruffians twice attempted to dynamite the dam, but they were greeted by local townspeople with shotgun blasts of
rock salt. The onion farming scheme, known today as the Onion Wars, was abandoned. Eldon Russell Park marks the location where the dredging stopped. Today, spoil banks along the river remain as a reminder of this boondoggle.
In 1969, Mrs. Marie Horwath sold 51 acres of riverfront property to Geauga Park District. This provided Geauga County's first public access to the Upper Cuyahoga River. First known as River Park, the name was later changed to Eldon Russell Park in honor of the park commissioner who was instrumental in Geauga Park District's early
expansion. Later, in 1976, 81 additional acres were leased from the City of Akron.
Horwath's Landing is available to launch a canoe or small boat. A shelter, grills, and restrooms provide for pleasant riverside picnicking. The shelter can be reserved, and is otherwise available on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here to reserve a shelter.
The Eldon Russell Nature Trail reaches many of the park's natural habitats along its .75-mile course. During times of high water, the section along the river may be inaccessible. Download
the trail map here.
The statewide Buckeye Trail makes a pass along the roadway bordering Eldon Russell Park.
In Geauga County, the Cuyahoga River flows through an ancient valley filled with glacial deposits. Flat expanses along the river define an old Ice Age lake bed that once occupied the valley. The park's landscape is also characterized by kames (knolls of sand and gravel formed by melting glaciers) and kettles (wet depressions left by the melting of buried blocks of glacial ice).
Soggy kettle holes harbor a number of rare wetland plants. Swamp forests of elm, ash, silver maple and swamp white oak thrive on poorly-drained flats along the river. Kames support an upland forest of beech, maple, oak and a majestic stand of native white pine. Deer, turkey and other woodland wildlife can be found here.
Many kinds of wetland wildlife may be observed along the river, including beaver, muskrat, mink, heron, wood duck and the rare prothonotary warbler. Beautiful blooms of pickerelweed, cardinal flower, water lily, spatterdock and buttonbush grave the river's edge each summer.
A large field at the western edge of the park is managed as grassland. Wildlife that benefit include eastern bluebirds, swallows, eastern meadowlarks, bobolinks, and a wide variety of mammals and insects.
The river attracts anglers who come to catch a variety of gamefish, including northern pike, bass and sunfish. Fish may be taken only with rod and reel or cane pole; a current Ohio fishing license is required in accordance with state regulations. Collecting live bait is not permitted. Geauga Park District encourages catch-and-release practices to help maintain a balanced and healthy fish population.
Click the map below to see Eldon Russell Park plotted by Google Maps and get directions.
From the south: Travel I-422 east of the Route 44 exit. Turn north onto Rapids Road, and continue approximately 2.5 miles to the park entrance on the east side of the road.
From the north: Travel Route 87 to the western edge of Burton Village. Turn south onto Rapids Road. Travel approximately 3.2 miles to the park entrance on the east side of the road.