Beneath bridge, scenery abounds

Nick Baker

Hidden under the Main Street bridge downtown is one of Kent’s most scenic locations: the Kent Dam.

At dusk, what could be considered the skyline of this small downtown begins to glow. Prominently featured from the park’s wooden walkways are the yellow glow of Pufferbelly Ltd. Restaurant and the Star of the West Milling Company’s white tower, which is dwarfing the surrounding brick buildings.

On the water, a thick summer growth spurt has left the river blanketed in algae in certain areas, but in others the current flows swiftly over rocks and through rapids.

The walkways that extend from the dam area to Tannery Park, across the street from the Kent Free Library, are lined with elegant lampposts and an ivy overgrowth that seems more encapsulating than intrusive, and a bluesy electric guitar trickles down from the streets above.

Brimfield residents Charles Weekly and Ashley Balacowich sit on a large rock overlooking the water. Toot, the dog, jumps excitedly as Weekly holds him back by his leash.

“There are always other dogs that are down here too,” Weekly says as Toot continues to jump around despite the tug of the leash. “And the trails are nice. It’s really scenic.”

The trails stretch north through Riveredge Park to Brady’s Leap Park, a site where, according to a sign along the trail, Revolutionary War captain Samuel Brady reportedly cleared a 21-foot gap over the river to avoid Native Americans in 1780.

To the south, the trails lead through Tannery Park all the way to Fred Fuller Park, off Haymaker Parkway toward Stow.

Chelsea Boyd, freshman broadcast journalism major, and Jennifer Spanos, freshman fashion merchandising major, had just finished singing under the bridge with some friends.

Frankie Wall, an Ohio State University student, praises the acoustics, just as the sound of the flow is interrupted by the thunderous chug of a freight train, which, from under the bridge’s high arches, bellows out across the water.

“It’s just a quiet place to go off campus,” Boyd says as the noise of the train fades. “It’s a place you can have just to yourself.”

Two men and two women stand on the dam wall, looking out on the water and sipping coffee. Dana France of Ravenna and Dan Ciccarelli of Monroe Falls are leaning on the railing looking down at the rushing water.

“We just had dinner and grabbed a coffee,” France says. “Wanted to relax, unwind a little bit. I bet a lot of people don’t know it’s here.”

Contact features reporter Nick Baker at [email protected].