Most communities have some kind of park with a playground and picnic area. Most communities do not have anything like Ariel-Foundation Park in Mount Vernon, Ohio. The 250 acre park is the site of the former Pittsburgh Plate Glass Works No. 11 and celebrates that heritage in the most imaginative way.
There are green spaces, a traditional playground, a bike path, picnic areas and all the traditional park stuff you might expect.
It’s what you don’t expect, the celebration of the land’s industrial heritage, that makes this park truly remarkable.
The factory closed in 1979 and what remains is now referred to as “The Ruins.” What was once a million square foot factory complex is now marked by old walls, a couple of remaining buildings and steel used to create art. There are four stair and elevator towers along side a series of steel pieces that resemble an industrial style Stonehenge.
The 280 foot brick smokestack has been repurposed into the Rastin Observation Tower and is the tallest structure in Knox County.
A bike path winds through the park and signage explains the story behind what you see today.
The plant was built by a gent called Jacob Coxey, a businessman and politician. He built this plant using girders salvaged from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Some of those same girders were salvaged again and used as art installations throughout the park today.
There’s a River of Glass made with smooth turquoise colored glass from the plant.
There are three former gravel quarry lakes with islands and plenty of good fishing. There are places for your events as well. I was especially taken with the old carpenter shop turned event space.
Among other things, I didn’t make it to the Clock House Museum or the labyrinth that day but this provides a reason to go back!
Perfect parks with their shiny benches and playgrounds are great but this place feels like a completely different kind of playground- one where adults are free to roam and play too! The imagination and hard work that went into this place is inspiring and my only regret is that I don’t live closer. I would be out there all the time!
If you want to know more, click here to visit their website. If you’re planning to go, 10 Pittsburgh Ave., Mt Vernon will get you there.