An Introduction to the French Creek Park

The French Creek Park dates from 1964, when the Burrell family sold the land to the Lorain County Metro Park District. Before that major parts of the park land was the Burrell farm. Located around the park are interesting historical sites. The picture below is the old Burrell farm road, which several interesting areas are located nearby . Walking down the farmroad you can imagine what it was like with horses and later tractors, coming down this road to work the fields. The bricks used in building the Burrell Home in 1820, were made along Sugar Creek by where the road crossed it. To reach the farmroad, you can park at Lower James Day Park on East River Road. Then follow the bike path south, until you are even with the Burrell Homestead driveway across the road. The farmroad is on the east side of the bike path.

The old Schoolhouse and Church Remains

About 500 feet south of the bridge that carries East River Road over French Creek, is an interesting site. It lays betweeen the bikepath and the Sugar Creek gorge. This is all that remains of the schoolhouse that was here from the 1880's to late 1930's. The school was a two story brick building, and the township hall was in the lower part. Two stairs went to to the school in the upper part. Eleanor Burrell recalls that on election day , the students had to be quiet, to not disturb the voters. It was closed in the 1920's and burned in the late 1930's. About 20 feet south of the farmroad, and 20 feet east of the bikepath is the site of the old Church. It was the Sheffield Concergational Church, and was built in 1853. The church was a white New England style building. In 1915 the church was one of places of the Sheffield Centennal Celebrations. The ladies of the town cleaned the inside, while the men painted and repaired the church. In the early 1930's the church was in disuse, and taken down. All that remains is some sandstone blocks, and the well. Edward Burrell, Eleanor's grandfather, had some barns just east of this quiet place.

The Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, and the James Day Farm

Behind the French Creek Nature Center on Colorado Road, in the valley, is a concrete foundation. This along with a concrete abutment in the hill to the south of the Nature Center, is all that remains of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad. It was built in the 1900's to deliver coal to Cromwell Steel on Lorain's East Side. A bridge crossed French Creek, and the rails passed though farms. To the south east the rails cut across the Burrell farm. They were removed in the 1930's, and only memories remained. The present park road entering from French Creek Road is built on the rail bed. The site of the French Creek Nature Center, was the location of the James Day Farm. James Day was the son of John Day, who came to Sheffield in 1816. The barns were located by where the Nature Center building is now. The house was a Greek Revival cottage built in 1850. Marian Quinn, in her book "Harvest of Memories", describes her grandparents life, the Conrad's who lived here from 1889 to 1920. The Day family sold the scenic areas of the farm to the village. It is now James Day Park, just to the west of the Nature Center. In 1989 to make way for the Nature Center, the house was burned down.

More Sheffield Links.

Sheffield Home Page: A online tour of Historic Sheffield
Burrell Homestead: The Burrell Homestead and the Underground Railroad