As the question of the park’s or the creek’s name origin comes up frequently, here’s what I learned from early Naturalist Duane Ferris, longtime Park Board Commissioner Bob McCullough and/or GPD’s original Executive Director Don Meyer years ago. Two versions:
1. With its high valley walls, hogs could be kept in portions of the valley with minimal fencing to forage on the abundance of hickory nuts and acorns found there. (Plausible.)
2. The creek was a regular stopover for farmers to water and feed their hogs as they drove them overland to Middlefield, where stockyards held livestock for shipping to market on the railroad in the late 1800s. (I have no historical information to corroborate this.)
Click here for a scan of a letter to then-attorney Paul Newman from the late, great former GPD park commissioner Mark Sperry that provides some interesting insights to this question which involve a whiskey distillery and porcine partakers of the fermented mash dumped into the creek. It lends some credence to explanation #1 above. Also, the 1880 edition of the Pioneer and General History of Geauga County’s section of Middlefield Twp. makes references to grist and sawmills and distillery(s) on Swine Creek.
I remember Duane sharing two stories with me. First, farmers drove their pigs to market through the valley, and as the flood plain supported walnut trees, the pigs fed on the nuts, fattening them up. (I usually told this one on wagon rides over the years.) The other story was a farmer lost his pigs and found them in the creek.
-Naturalist Judy Bradt-Barnhart