Madison's Best Kept Secret

This natural area was once a thriving port. It was the port of importation for limestone from Kelly's Island for our local iron industry. It was the main port for the export of iron and a wide variety of agricultural products grown in the area. This Ohio port was so important that it was the site of the first lighthouse west of Buffalo, N.Y.

This site was also the location of a major shipyard. Some of the first ships constructed on Lake Erie were build at this site.

The village that developed at this site was called Ellensburg. It included a number of residences, stores and even a hotel. A few of the old foundations can still be located in the wooded area surrounding the marsh.

An estuary is a coastal wetland that is characterized by fluctuating water levels. The dynamic nature of the lakeshore will from time to time close the outlet of the stream causing a wide variation of water levels within the marsh. The periodic submergence of the low lying land creates a unique environment. Few estuaries still exist on the shores of Lake Erie. Most have been drained, filled or developed into marinas. It is important to preserve the few remaining.

Arcola Creek Estuary is under the management of three public and private agencies, Lake County Commissioners, Lake MetroParks and The Nature Conservancy.

The estuary area has been developed as a multi-use recreation area.

A parking area has been built along with an overlook platform and a paved handicap trail. This trail has recently had a plaque installed dedicated to our long time President, the late Ray Wickert, who served for many years and dedicated much of his time to the preservation of this natural resource.

Picnic tables and grills have also been provided to enhance the enjoyment of this valuable natural area.

There are many users of the marsh. Fishermen enjoy the spring and fall runs of steelhead trout.

During the spring and fall migrations, many bird-watchers come to the marsh to observe the migrating flocks. Canoeists also enjoy the waters of the estuary and creek.

The beach and estuary support a number of endangered or threatened plant species. Among them are the Beach Pea, Sea Rocket, Seaside Spurge, Purple Sand Grass, Wafer Ash, False Dragonhead, Canadian Wild Rye, Trailing Wild Bean, Canadian Anemone, Northern Poison Ivy, Hairy Agrimony, Sweet Flag, Hard-stem Bulrush, River Bulrush Walter's Barnyard Grass and Leafy Tussock Sedge. A number of fish, birds and other animals of special interest are found at Arcola Creek as well. The endangered and threatened species occur both in the marsh and on the beach.

Although the management of the Arcola Estuary area is being handled by the County, MetroParks and the Nature Conservancy, part of the stewardship is being done by local residents. Friends of Arcola is a private non-profit group that is helping to preserve the area. It has regular meetings and sponsors events around the Arcola Creek Watershed. Among those events are annual clean-ups. These are done in cooperation with Lake MetroParks, Lake Soil and Water District and the State of Ohio through the Coast Weeks Program.

Friends of Arcola is interested not only in the estuary, but in the entire watershed. Water Quality issues are important to the health of the stream. The estuary is the only part of the watershed which is currently protected. To preserve the integrity of the estuary, it is important to protect the entire watershed. This does not mean stopping development, but instead developing in an environmentally friendly way. Persons who wish to preserve their private sections of the stream are encouraged to grant conservation easements to help protect this unique resource.

In addition, construction along the stream banks can have a great impact on the health of the stream.

Marshes and wetlands serve several very important purposes. They help to control flooding by ponding large quantities of water and releasing it slowly back to the streams. They act as natural settling basins to remove sediment that would otherwise fill our streams and lakes. They are biologically one of the most productive parts of our earth and serve as breeding areas for many forms of wildlife. In addition, they filter out many of the pollutants that we manage to place into our streams. Although these wetlands are powerful pollution fighters, their capacity is limited. We must do our part to avoid overloading them.

For further information or to join us, please contact:

Friends Of Arcola

Carol Takacs, Pres.


Dan Donaldson

Lake County SWCD

Dan Donaldson at the Lake County Soil and Water District Office


Lake MetroParks