Sacra Via’s trees, benches add to park’s natural setting

It’s one of 28 parks or parklets in Marietta’s city parks system.

No doubt Sacra Via is one of the city’s links to its prehistoric past, as the existing mounds were built by the Hopewell and Adena people who lived in the region and across southern Ohio.

The park areas feature several benches, plenty of trees for shade and a gazebo. Part of the park also is devoted to an arboretum. Arboretum Park, along Sacra Via between Third Street and the Muskingum River, features 170 trees representing 85 species.

“It helps with the environment,” said Nathan Colyer, 18, of 214 Sacra Via. “It creates a good aura for the neighborhood. It has a historic feel. It helps to have a little nature in the middle of town.”

When the original pioneers arrived in what is now Marietta in 1787, they discovered groups of mounds in an area that covered more than 95 acres.

Some of the mounds in Marietta and other parts of Ohio have been destroyed in name of development in many cases. Two of the large mounds that once graced the area of Sacra Via were destroyed to make brick. Among the buildings in town to be built with those bricks from the Sacra Via mound soil were the Unitarian Universalist Church and the foundations of some of the homes that now line the park.

The park saw action during the Civil War, when it was known as Camp Tupper, a site for training for the war. Only two of the four original square mounds – the Quadranaou-still exist off of Third and Warren streets.

“It’s nice for people to sit in and go walking in or walk their dogs,” said Councilman Steve Thomas, D-3rd Ward.

Thomas said keeping the grass mowed, keeping it clean, and making it look nice is as much attention as the park gets.

He said the city doesn’t have plans for any improvements at Sacra Via because it’s not a good place for something such as playground equipment with all the streets that cut across it.

Erin Clinger, 38, took advantage of the sunny afternoon Wednesday before any storms popped up, to take a walk with her canine pal, Ziggy, a 2-year-old Welsh Corgi mix.

“He loves it here,” Clinger said. “We’ll walk up and down everywhere. I like to look at the tree things (referring to the plaques posted on many of the trees in the park). My grandfather was interested in trees and birds. It interests me to know how old the trees are and if they planted them for someone.”

Colyer said he does use the park, mainly the Quadranaou area, to play ultimate Frisbee and football. Sometimes, he said, there are guys who hit each other with swords made from foam.

Colyer is referring to the local Jugger Ohio league, which practices in the Sacra Via parks.

Jugger teams use medieval-looking weapons to defend a runner who tries to score by delivering a pear-shaped shaped ball – the “skull” – into the opposing team’s end zone.

Some of the pee-wee football teams also use the park for practices.