Sunday, March 16, 2014

I.N. Dreamer Park. Richhill Township, Greene County

I had first heard of the I.N. Dreamer park a few months ago, while the mayor of Carmichaels was cutting my hair.   You see, in our little town, the town barber doubles as the mayor as well. In between official business and hair cuts, he is full of local knowledge, obscure facts and knows everybody.   So after I voiced my complaint about the giant pothole in front of Gabler's Drug Store, I settled in for a haircut.  

The mayor, Dave Jack at work.  This guy is gonna be on the chair for a while, as I got the barber talking. Once he starts, a 10 minute job turns into 30

Today's subject was lesser known places as he related a story about him being at a local festival, and him seeing a postcard from long ago, depicting a serene park.  The card, as he described, contained an image of monuments, sidewalks, benches and other park like compliments.  He had never seen this image before, nor heard of the park.  As he continued, it turned out the card was basically an artists rendering of a proposed park in north western Greene County.  Although the park was started, it was never completed as this postcard vision.  I've searched for this postcard image, but to no luck so far.

So last week it was beautiful out.  Danielle and Chip were off and I was in for the weekend, so we decided to deviate from our normal Sunday flea market trip. As Canned Heat might sing, we ended up "going up the country".   Dreamer Park is in the very northwest corner of the county, and in a very isolated spot, so we just picked a random, close address on the GPS and went with that.  We wound our way past old farms, old schools, derelict campers, gas wells, huge mine beltways and lots of cows, stopping occasionally to take pictures of everything and nothing.

  As we unknowingly approached the spot, we ran into the second coming of the industrial revolution, in the form of a new giant gas compression station up on Majorsville Road. Greene county is indeed the Saudi Arabia of the natural gas world, some would say.

I missed a turn or 3, ended up lost, hit a bump and spilled the Gatorade, so pulled over and Chip and Danielle got out to take some pictures of an old bridge, while I searched the dwindling cell service  for directions I saw on once on some antiquated Geocities site.  As our luck would have it, the bridge we were stopped at was the key.

Cross this bridge, then you are almost there.

  We were only a quarter mile away.   We rounded a curve and saw this.

"There it is" we all said at the same time.  As I mentioned earlier, there is an awful lot of gas drilling activity in our area, and a rather fresh road to a well bordered our park so we drove on up.

Back in the 1930's, Isaac Dreamer visioned a park where he could honor the people who served this country, and began plans and work for this park. Dreamer's Park would honor those fallen and those who had served in the 4 wars that we had fought at this time.  The Revolutionary War, The Civil War, The Spanish American War and The World War.  You have to remember, this last one was the war to end all wars, and at the time of the erection of the monument, the second world war wasn't invented yet, so to speak.

The most stunning and awesome sight in this remote park is its center obelisk.  A 35 foot granite memorial was shipped from Vermont, all 55,000 pounds of it.  On top, an eagle with outstreched wings watches over the park, his wingspan over 4 feet.   All four sides of this massive monument honor the 4 different wars.

Four cornerstones define the border of the park, one for each branch of service:  Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Nurses.

Chip.  He's a nurse, ya know.

The park was dedicated in 1935, in front of a gathering of 500 people. It's hard to imagine 500 people up here in this remote location, watching a monument being dedicated, especially in the 30's, but times were different then. 

  From there, things went south.  Isaac Dreamer died in 1935, and was laid to rest in the little cemetery up near the monument with his family.

 Although money was set aside for the perpetual care and upgrade of the park, his will was contested, and the big dream Dreamer had was never realized.  The money set aside for the expansion and upkeep of his park went to the family instead.   The county got the property back via a donation from the remaining family in 1966, rededicated in 1969, then fell in to virtual obscurity from then on. From what we are told, the park is maintained by the Rose Hill Garden Club and the Richhill Township supervisors these days. The really cool thing about this park is that it is located in the extreme north west corner of the county you could probably throw a stone and hit Washington county, throw one west and hit West Virginia.

Its pretty great that people still care enough to upkeep this park, and their care is evident.  The area looks weeded and mowed (despite the winter), and new flags are placed around the monument as well.

It was a great trip and we got lots of new ideas for a return visit. 

To get a better idea of the layout of the park, take a look at the video below.

Then, you can check out this video, from our friend and fellow explorer and Greene County judge, Farley Toothman.  He also visits the sheep and fiber fest in the town of Waynesburg in the beginning of his video.

Planning a visit?  Great!  We encourage you, I bet this place is exceedingly beautiful in the spring and summer.  Check out the interactive map here!  It will open so as that the park is in the center.

Some bonus video above