Harvey Firestone’s legacy lives on in Columbiana

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Mirror Lake
The Mirror Lake area at Harvey S. Firestone park in Columbiana, Ohio, underwent a major improvement project in 2019 which included reconfiguring the outline of the lake, dredging the lake and adding landscaping to the perimeter. (Submitted photo)

Fall has always been my favorite season for running. The decrease in humidity and the increase in fall foliage makes running outside immensely more enjoyable for me.

Recently, I started my run with a loop around the back walking trail at Firestone Park in Columbiana, Ohio. Fallen leaves and small sticks crunched under my running shoes. My path formed a circle around my boys, as they continued their quest to capture and release a catfish in the pond.

Lost in thought

I turned up my music and began to get lost in my own thoughts. I don’t always listen to music; usually, nature provides its own orchestra. However, some days can be more overwhelming than others. With a loud, upbeat song, my whole perspective can change for the better. I don’t even focus on the lyrics. Typically, I get lost in my own thoughts.

Ask any runner, a long run can be a solo conversation jumping swiftly from one topic to another only tied together by a thin thread of similarities. On this day, it was a Garth Brooks song from the 1990s that sent my thoughts flying. I chuckled to myself, thinking about my friend that I would consider a Garth Brooks “groupie.” She has been to multiple concerts in many different cities to see him perform.

My feet continued to pound the pavement to the beat, and my thoughts continued to stretch on from one thing to the next. A strong tempo in the music moved my feet faster and brought me closer to Mirror Lake. The area underwent a major improvement project in 2019 which included reconfiguring the outline of the lake, dredging the lake and adding landscaping to the perimeter.

Just like listening to music, seeing the updated lake and perennials elevated my mood. I rounded the corner to add some distance to my run on the asphalt path that surrounds the lake. I was fortunate enough to see a hummingbird moth sipping nectar from the still vibrant purple verbena.

The new trail was great for me to run on, but more importantly, it was designed with accessibility for all populations. As I finished my loop, I paused in front of the memorial for David Tingle, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Thomas Edison. It was a great place to catch my breath and reflect on the accomplishments of those great men.

Legacy

In 1933, Firestone donated the land that later became Firestone Park. I am profoundly thankful for a safe place to run and enjoy with my family. I realized I was a little like my friend and her fascination with Garth Brooks, except I was enamored with the life of Columbiana’s legendary businessman Harvey Firestone.

I must acknowledge that this infatuation even extends beyond state boundaries. It was at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, that I stepped back in time to see the farmhouse and barn as it was in 1882. The original Firestone farmhouse, barn, and furnishings were donated in 1983.

After two years of work and over two hundred miles of travel, the buildings were disassembled and rebuilt in Greenfield Village. Visitors, like my family, learn through immersion about what life was like on a farm in the 1880s. Demonstrations appeal to all five senses as food is prepared and farm chores are completed in a manner authentic to the time period.

During our camping trip to Garrett County, Maryland, my family and I stumbled upon another stomping ground of Harvey Firestone. During the summer of 1921, Harvey Firestone camped along the shores of Muddy Creek Falls, in what is now Swallow Falls State Park, with his traveling companions Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.

Vagabonds

These men, along with naturalist John Burroughs, called themselves The Vagabonds. They camped and explored different parts of the country. The Vagabonds preferred to take their automobiles along dirt roads, exploring the countryside. Their fascination with automobiles and nature encouraged outdoor recreation as a national pursuit and aided in the conservation of our country’s forests.

While Harvey Firestone is famous for his inventions and contribution to industry, it was during his camping trips that he demonstrated his respect for nature. Harvey lived a successful life, becoming a business leader.

I especially like his example of choosing good friends. Working together, Harvey, Ford and Edison made a far greater impact than they could have individually.

Harvey once said, “It is only as we develop others that we permanently succeed.”

Harvey’s legacy continues to develop wellness and peace in the people who visit Firestone Park.

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Julie Geiss lives with her husband and four children in Unity Township, Ohio. Faith and family are first in her life, but she also loves hiking, biking and camping. You can contact Julie at juliegeiss1414@gmail.com.

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