I spent Friday morning photographing Valley View Park. Valley View is a 130-acre nature preserve and education facility located near the confluence of the East Fork and Little Miami Rivers in Milford, Clermont County, Ohio.
The park- and the area surrounding the park- are notable in that for thousands of years, Native Americans have traveled up and down the Little Miami and East Fork.
Because of the areas rich river bottom topography and geographically advantageous location; and because the area has been, for the last ten thousand years, abundant with game and fish and ideal for growing crops, countless Native American groups have traveled through, settled and farmed this land.
That this land was important is evidenced by the large bird shaped earthworks which once stood upon these grounds.
As the Foundation’s site recounts, “there was actually a very large bird shaped earthworks pictured above in Milford. This “Milford Works” sat on land immediately above Valley View’s property. The “tail feathers” of the bird were positioned at the top of the bluff along Gatch Street and South Milford Road above Valley View. General Lytle was the first to survey the Milford Works. In 1803, President Jefferson saw General Lytle’s maps of the Milford Works, and became fascinated and requested more information about “Those works of Antiquity.” This could explain why Major Isaac Roberdeau, head of the Bureau of Topographical Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers came to Milford to personally survey the Milford Works.
A map of this earthwork- as produced by Major Roberdeau- is reproduced on the Foundation’s website.
Moreover, because these flat-lands lie just nine miles upstream of the Ohio River; the area has also been of considerable importance to European settlers who have continually farmed since the area was first surveyed in the early nineteenth century.
The history of those who have worked the land, over the last several hundred years is still visible in a number of ways. Most notably, the foundation is working to restore two 100 year old barns on the property. The workmanship demonstrated within the construction of the these barns- the monstrous hand adzed beams, the simple hand forged hasps and hinges, which are still in tact and operational, as well as other impressive architectural features- in and of themselves compel a visit to the park.
In addition to having significant historical and archaeological importance, the site, which was created by locals who wanted to save the area from the omnipresent developers who wished to build 900 tract homes on this floodplain, is also important as these lands provide refuge to wildlife and visitors alike. The five miles of hiking trails which cross the scenic park also provide a rare, if sometimes subtle, aesthetic reprieve-even in the doldrums of gray December- from the ubiquitous surrounding exurban sprawl.
The park is truly a worthy example of a few dedicated people bringing an important vision to fruition.