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50th Anniversary

We're celebrating the 50th anniversary of Preservation Parks!

As we celebrate 50 years, we are thankful for the park district pioneers that set the groundwork for a thriving and still growing park district that sees thousands of visitors every year. Our committed staff manages over 2000 acres, offer a variety of programs, and is committed to protecting and conserving the natural and historic features of Delaware County and inspiring outdoor exploration and learning. We hope you can join us in the care of nature and community for a sustainable future. 


Group Hikes

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park history

Gallant Woods Park History

Shale Hollow Park History

Deer Haven Park History

Then & Now

Blues Creek Park 1997 Blues Creek Park 2023
Gallant Woods Park 1997 Gallant Park 2023
River Run Park 2010 River Run Park 2023


1974: Park District created as Delaware County Metropolitan Park District.

1974: Probate Judge Paul Barrett administers oath of office to the first park commissioners, Marie Wilson, Marvin Miller, and Don Fisher.

1974: Park Board sponsors its inaugural event, a county-wide Scenic and Historical Tour, beginning at the Berlin Presbyterian Church and ending at the Covered Bridge on Chambers Road in Sunbury.

1975: Chris Morris from Olentangy High School wins a contest for the first emblem for the Park District, receiving a grand prize of $25.

1975: “Pilot project of recreation” takes place at Olentangy Elementary playground from July 28 to August 29, funded through the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (C.E.T.A.) program, with about 20 participants.

1975: Park Board adopts rules and regulations for the Park District and designates the sheriff’s office as the enforcement officer for park rules.

1987: New Park Board is formed to revitalize the District, emphasizing the preservation of natural areas amid early development.

1987: Comments made during a board meeting underscore the development pressures facing the community, prompting an initiative to inventory the open space, recreational areas, and natural resources within Delaware County.

1987: Support for the Park District grows more firmly from citizens and local government officials. 

1988: Park Board establishes goals for 1988, including identifying program needs, adopting an open space concept, expanding public awareness, and developing funding methodologies.

1988: First naturalist program is held at the Delaware County District Library on the Darby Creeks, conducted by Howard T. “Mac” Albin, an interpretive naturalist.

1988: Park District adopts its first mission statement: “To protect and conserve Delaware County’s unique natural resources, and scenic and historic features for the benefit of present and future generations. To provide enjoyable, safe, easily accessible, and aesthetically pleasing outdoor educational and passive recreational experiences for the citizens of Delaware County.”

1989: Rita Au is hired as the first Executive Director, with a budget is $30,000 from the Delaware County Commissioners.

1990: Walter & Kathryn Sandel donate .6 miles of former railroad right-of-way in Sunbury, becoming the future Sandel Legacy Trail, a segment of the Ohio to Erie Trail. This is the first property owned by Preservation Parks.

1993: Park District purchases 98.5 acres on Fontanelle Road near Ostrander at auction with funds from an anonymous donor for the future Blues Creek Park. An additional 40 acres is added in 2000.

1993: First staff members are hired as parkland and programming begins to expand.

1995: Name of the Park District is officially changed to the Preservation Park District of Delaware County.

1997: Charlotte Gallant donates 86 acres of woodland to the Park District for the future Gallant Woods Park. An additional 98 acres are purchased with funds from the same anonymous donor for Blues Creek Park.

1998: Park District receives a donation of 32 acres from the estate of Mary Barber McCoy near Sunbury, becoming the future Hogback Ridge Park. Additional land purchases bring the total park size to 41 acres.

1999: Park offices are relocated to Hogback Ridge Park from a rented office space in downtown Delaware.

1999: Voters successfully pass the first park district levy (0.4 mill) after six previous attempts, due to the hard work of dedicated volunteers including Charlotte Gallant, Jerry Heston, Barbara Martin, and many others. Thank you!

2000: Park District purchases land in Genoa Township from Joe Pingue, Jr. for future Char-Mar Ridge Park, in honor of Pingue’s business partner’s grandmother, Charlotte, and his mother, Maria. Additional land purchases in 2002 and 2020 bring the total park size to 150 acres.

2000: Park District purchases 72 acres north of Seldom Seen Road from Donald Traphagen for future Emily Traphagen Park, in honor of his late wife. Additional land purchases from 2016 – 2019 bring the park size to nearly 100 acres.

2001: Park District purchases the trail house and railroad trestle over S. Old 3C Road along the Sandel Legacy Trail in Sunbury.

2001: Community Park Improvement Grant (CPIG) program is launched.

2001: Blues Creek Park opens.

2002: Hogback Ridge Park opens.

2003: Mary Barber McCoy Nature Center opens at Hogback Ridge Park.

2004: Park District purchases 19 acres on Buttermilk Hill Road for the future Gallant Farm.

2003: Emily Traphagen Park opens.

2004: Park District purchases 60 acres in Lewis Center from Planned Communities, Inc., and Donald Hollenback for the future Shale Hollow Park. Additional purchases over the next eight years bring the total park size to 208 acres.

2004: First Park Police Officer is hired as the District continues to grow.

2005: Gallant Woods Park opens.

2005: Perseid Meteor Shower campout and Trick-or-Treat Trail programs begin.

2006: Park District mission statement is updated: “To protect and conserve Delaware County’s natural, scenic, historic, and archeological features; and to provide for enjoyable, safe, accessible, and aesthetically pleasing outdoor educational and passive recreational experiences for the benefit of the residents of Delaware County.”

2006: Official volunteer program begins.

2006: William and Phyllis Havener donate 97 acres of land for the future Deer Haven Park. Additional purchases in 2022, 2023, and 2024 bring the total park size to 226.5 acres.

2006: John W. Bader, Jr. makes a significant financial donation towards the construction of the Deer Haven Park Visitor Center, in honor of his late wife, Amy Clark-Bader.

2006: Golden Marathon weekly hikes for older adults are launched in partnership with SourcePoint. Approximately 900 hikes have taken place since.

2007: Char-Mar Ridge Park opens.

2008: Deer Haven Park opens.

2008: Summer Letterbox Adventure program begins and has attracted more than 12,000 participants since.

2008: Voters pass a 10-year, 0.4 mill replacement levy plus 0.2 mill additional. Thank you!

2009: Summer concerts at Gallant Woods begin. Eighty-five concerts have been held since.

2009: Deer Haven Park Visitor Center opens.

2010: Park District purchases a 57-acre life estate from Dave Orndorf for the future Orchard Oaks Preserve.

2010: Hoover Scenic Trail, a 1.6-mile segment of the Ohio to Erie Trail that includes a bridge over Old 3C Highway, opens to the public.

2011: Park District purchases 11 acres of property along Main Road and the Olentangy River for paddling access at the future River Run Park. An additional 3 acres was added in 2014.

2012: Gallant Farm opens as a representation of a Depression Era farm, including a farmhouse, granary, machine shed, garden shed, outhouse, and a reconstructed historical barn that was originally erected for the Chicago 1893 World’s Fair.

2013: Shale Hollow Park opens.

2014: Tom Curtin is hired as the Park District’s second Executive Director.

2014: Park District acquires 115 acres near Pollock Road in Delaware Township for the future Hickory Woods Park.

2014: The Park District hosts the first Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist training in Delaware County in partnership with Ohio State University Extension in the School of Environment and Natural Resources.

2015: Additional right-of-way is purchased for the Ohio to Erie trail over the next several years, totaling 7.2 miles that are managed by the Park District.

2015: River Run Park opens.

2016: Park District purchases 47.5 acres near Bale Kenyon Road in Lewis Center for the future McCammon Creek Park. Additional land purchases from 2017-2021 bring the total park size to 231 acres.

2015: Park District mission statement is refreshed: “To protect and conserve the natural and historical features of Delaware County and to inspire outdoor exploration and learning.”

2015: Park Board approves renaming “Preserves” to “Parks” (e.g., Blues Creek Preserve becomes Blues Creek Park).

2016: Meredith State Trail opens, a segment of the Ohio to Erie Trail, located between Meredith State Rd and County Line Rd.

2017: First summer exhibit, “Into the Ice Age” opens at Deer Haven and Shale Hollow Parks.

2017: First Adventure Run is held at Gallant Woods Park.

2017: Voters pass a 0.6 mill renewal levy plus 0.3 mill additional for the years 2019-2028. Thank you!

2018: Community Trail Improvement Grant (CTIG) replaces the Community Park Improvement Grant (CPIG).

2018: Edwards Land Development Company donates 22 acres on Olentangy River Road in Delaware for future Sycamore Run Park.

2018: Preservation Parks Foundation is established as a 501(c)3 with a mission to raise funds and awareness to support the goals and objectives of Preservation Parks.

2019: Delaware County Ohio Bicentennial Barn is donated to the Park District by Bob and Sue Postle.

2021: Aviary at Deer Haven Park opens in partnership with Ohio Nature Education.

2020:  Highest increase in park visitation is recorded as people find comfort outdoors during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

2020: New logo is introduced

2021: Sycamore Run Park and Hickory Woods Park open.

2021: Voters pass a new 0.4 mill (additional) land & park development levy for the years 2022-2031 in response to rapid development in Delaware county. Thank you!

2021: Park District purchases the initial 37 acres in Trenton Township from Kathy Sandel for future Perfect Creek Park. Additional land purchases, including the Perfect-Sandel Farm life estate in 2024, bring the total future park size to 478 acres.

2022: Park District purchases 75 acres in Delaware Township north of Camp Lazarus for a future park. An additional purchase in 2023 brings the total future park size to 129 acres.

2023: Mary Van Haaften is hired as the Park District’s third Executive Director.

2023: Former railroad trestle over the Big Walnut Creek in Sunbury is converted to carry the Ohio to Erie multi-use trail, providing an important connection, and nearly completing the trail in Delaware County.

2024: McCammon Creek Park North Area opens north of Orange Road.

2024: Happy 50th anniversary Preservation Parks!

We are looking forward to the next 50 years and beyond as we continue to live out our mission of protecting and conserving the natural and historic resources of Delaware County. Stay up to date with the latest on our website and social media.