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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stevie's Island- the rest of the story

Before I get started, and you look at the time stamp and say WTF, I should mention that the collision of "the fabric we're waiting on won't be in till Monday" and "the company president is coming, and we don't need a lot of people following Mike Uhl around asking what to stack/move/load next" resulted in "Chris and Laurie, take the rest of the week off. See you 6 am Monday."

Now, then. Way back in June when I did my first "a typical walk" post, I mentioned "an island the google earth calls Stevie's Island for some reason". Well, a couple days ago, a man named Matt Jones from the Allen County Partnership for Water Quality contacted Scrappy by e-mail and said he could clear up the mystery. Answering for Scrappy, I said, "Thank you, and maybe you also know what our famous creek is named." Last night, I got the reply, and it is a neat story.

Dear CW,

You know about the feeder canal that runs parallel to the old trolley easement/trail. The creek that runs from Northcrest, behind the Plex and joins up with the St. Joseph is Stony Run.

As for the island, it is named after a young fellow who adopted it as a “getaway” from everyday life. He and his friends cared for and improved the island to make it conducive to bonfires, picnics, and just hanging out in general. Most all the kids from that area knew of and visited the island. It was just known as “the island” for a very long time. Steven Jones, for whom it was named, was just one of the more regular visitors there. There is a marker on the Greenway parallel to the island that explains the basic relationship.

Steve was a “high-steel” ironworker. He was also an advocate for the rivers. His family and friends spent a lot of time on the island and the rivers. One day, at a site in Lima, OH, he slipped and fell to his death. He was also my brother.

Family and friends got together and decided to have the island dedicated in his honor. Appealing for registry with the USGS, the request was granted. Our mother appealed to the city for a marker space which was also granted. Google Earth picked up on the marker because of its official USGS designation.

There are all sorts of rumors flying around (in less than 30 years following) about how he drowned or was killed by Indians(???) and other things. There is even tell of his ghost appearing at sunset on the island. Where there is a certain “cool” factor about the various rumors and the truth is just sort of “there,” I enjoy hearing the different explanations of how people explain the circumstance.

My older brother and I share a lot of things in common though he and I never got to spend a lot of time together. He was 9 years older than me and died when he was 25. I guess I have continued where he left off-at least, that’s what his friends have related.

I hope this clarifies a lot of this.

If you are interested in any more river information, be it history, geography, “health” of it or whatever, let me know.

Thanks for your interest!


Matt JonesACPWQ

Isn't that cool? And on top of that, I have a new information source as we explore the area- which is what the second part of this post is about.

(But before I get started, I need to add that I was laboring under a misperception- Either Google Earth had it marked wrong or I was a total idiot, because I looked on google earth this morning and Stevie's island is much farther south. Not even in my actual neighbor hood. Until proven otherwise , I'm blaming it on Google Earth :).)

The other day when we walked, we traced Stony Run back to Clinton St. Along the way we found a neat little grass spot where we spent some time. It is what I call a "faerie spot"- a magical little hidden place great for reflection or just feeling the world turn. We went out this morning with three intentions: To get a good picture from the far side of the spot, find an easier way than the one we took to get there the first time, and see if we could find "the marker on the greenway parallel to the island".

First thing took us to the south side of the bridge and into the woods, an area we've only started exploring. We knew we'd have to find a way around a fence that we discovered when we found where the creek turns north at wood's edge. What we found was a trail that put us in the back yard of the retirement apartments on California. We had to go around a tongue of woods that jutted onto the property; just on the other side of that is the turn. up about 20 yds is another strip where another little ditch enters the creek, and the Spot (which I guess is what we'll call it) is just across it.

As you can see, it was a bright and frosty morning when we got there- 28.6 F when we started.

Then we had to backtrack whence we came to the north side of the bridge. There is a somewhat steep trail down to the lower floor of the woods, which we usually use to get to the north bank. Today we turned north up to the top of the ridge which marks the upper woods floor.

(Aw, ain't he cute?)

At the very edge where the ridge meets the creek valley is a place where you can cross the old fence (which is now on the east bank of the creek) and get down to the Spot.

Now we were ready for part 2 of our journey. Back out to the main trail, along the ravine, into the Plex, across the old wooden bridge, and along the path between the creek and IPFW's soccer field. Here we crossed a mud flat into a wooded patch that we'd never been in before. All we knew was A)this would no doubt be unreachable when the river was up, and B) it was a challenge to get through. But we came out at a familiar spot on the river bank. Now when the river's up, this ends in a small overlook. But now...
's a beach.

So of course, we clambered down and followed it, eventually coming to a tiny rivulet entering the river from the woods.

After crossing this, we found the way becoming rapidly more mucky, so we clambered back up the bank into we weren't sure what. What we did know was it was fairly impenetrable and eventually we came out into what turned out to be the tongue of woods between the north end of IPFW's field and the south end of the Plex's pitches. We also found that this rivulet led to yet another of the mysterious, water-filled holes we're getting so good at discovering.

After this, we found ourselves down another unfamiliar trail until we got into a large patch that even Scrappy was having trouble navigating. (and as Scrappy is the designated trail sniffer-outer, this was not good.) We quickly learned that the entire edge of this patch (which we were trying to get out of) had been lined from the outside with cut down trunks and brush approximately 4 feet high. Even Scrappy was acting like, "How the hell do we get out of this?" But I knew we just had to make our way once again to the river to get out, and soon we were in familiar, if unwanted, territory- the overgrown, brushy path at the north end of the Plex's south end, where the high tension towers cross the river. From here you can see the Island, but the closest to a marker we came was a blue trash can on the island itself. We may not have hit all 3 objectives, but we sure got a better understanding of how the great explorers would return home 10 years later, with amazing stories of mysterious new lands, and no real idea where they'd been.


  1. Thanks for sharing your walk with me. I totally enjoyed it, what a peaceful place.

  2. It was known as the "Islands" when I grew up there.
    I lived at 610 Curdes from about 1958 to the early 70s. Graduated North Side in 1966.
    We boys would fish & swim naked - generally just play around down there. We knew when the Damn would open it's gates & let out water. We would wait for that large rush of water & ride it down stream body surfing. Some times we would get into "WARS" with Wammo Slingshots & BB Guns ( stark naked from swimming) & pelt the hell out of each other, chasing each other all over the bank, water, Island & so forth. To the east of that spot were farm fields of corn we would raid & get shot at with rock salt from a shotgun & old farmer. We did alot of fishing down on that river from the Damn to North Side High. When it would rain like hell we would rush to the end of Curdes were there was a large storm water outlet at the time where all the storm drains in the surrounding streets would lead to. The storm water would shoot out with such force that you could jump from the top, above the water flow, land in that rushing stream of water on your back & get blown out half way across the river!!! Most of our time in the summers were spent down on that river. Fishing, camping out all night and floating and swimming. Course when we got older we did alot of beer drinking down on that river and Island!!

    Mike Brown
    Dundee, Oregon

  3. We live very close to the bike/walking path that runs along the river where "Stevie's Island" is. When our daughhter was little (born in 1985) I would frequently take her for bike rides on that path...of course she was well secured in her child's seat and helmet on. I don't remember how we learned about the story, but I remember talking to her about it. Sometimes we would stop and just gaze out at the island, in fact at times the water was low enough that a person could walk out to it.

    I remember walking to a spot that I could view the island and just "hang loose" when I felt the need to take a solitary break from life. Our daughter remembers the island quite well. I was unaware that she and the neighbor kids would visit that island. In fact today we discussed it when we drove by the marker. I reminded her of the day that a lady was scrubbing as hard as she could on that marker, so I stopped for a while and spoke to her. It was Stevie's mother. Some ignoramous had defaced it with paint!

    It's sad that so much trashy brush has been allowed to hide the view of the river and Stevie's Island. Unless one is adventurous enough to scamper through the brush, etc. it is next to impossible to see it.

    Our daughter blessed us with our first grandchild this spring. I hope he will be as adventurous as his mother was and try to scamper out to the island some day with some friends when the water levels are low.

    As we drove by today, I told her that we had to google it and find out the particulars! Thanks so much for refreshing my memory about what happened to Stevie, as I had forgotten the story.

    Rinda Ulrich

    1. I am so constantly amazed at the amount of people that have a heart connection to this place. Thank them for refreshing your memories, because I haven't yet "scrambled down through the brush" to even lay eyes on it. Seems kinda stupid to have the monument but hide the view, but that's Ft. Wayne for you. Hopefully, when your granddaughter is old enough, someone who cares will have cleared her a path to the island.