COFFEE TIME on Horns Hill
Today we go back in history to Horn's Hill Park.
The earliest history of what became known as Horn’s Hill centered on the burial of a Mound builder of the Adena culture. On October 5 and 6, 1933, Dr. E. F. Greenman, curator of the Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society, conducted excavations of at least three sites on Horn’s Hill and confirmed at least one burial of a prominent Mound builder. A burial vault 30 inches wide, 5 feet long and only 12 inches deep was found. Fragments of human bones, a portion
of a pelvis and of the upper femur, were discovered within the vault. Upon completion of the excavation work, a marker was placed with the inscription “Here Was Buried a Patriarch of the Prehistoric People”. Unfortunately the inscription is missing but the stone marker, which reminds us of a project forgotten by most people, still stands.
In the early history of our county the area was known as Horn’s Mill, and the road was called Horn’s Mill Road because of a mill that was once located there. Apparently Mr. Frank Horn owned some 10 acres in the area that he used as a vegetable garden. The City of Newark acquired the land September 10, 1910 from Harry and Louise Verrill. This information was originally made known by Horace Brown of the city engineer’s office and more recently by Frank Gibson also a former employee in the same department, and Mrs. Stella Horn, wife of Frank Horn. Mrs. Horn remembers “streams of people” using the park on weekends for picnics or other family gatherings. She shared this information in 1984 at the age of 91 in an Advocate newspaper article.
Horn’s Hill Park is Newark’s most unusual and largest city park and encompasses about 102 acres. A bench mark of 840 feet above sea level is located at the southwestern corner of the Water Works Bridge. The land rises abruptly some 250 feet above the surrounding area. The hill’s bench mark is 1,090 feet above sea level. If you count part of the bank at the old lake, it puts the elevation at about 1,100 above sea level. This enables a person looking southward on a clear day to see the town of Hebron which is about 12 miles away.
The top of the hill consists of some 10 acres that once included a lake for Newark’s water supply. As Newark grew, and more water was needed, two large concrete tanks, each holding 1.5 million gallons of water were added. In 1954, two additional tanks were added, and the lake was eliminated. The water capacity today is 6 million gallons of water for the Newark area. During World War II people were not allowed on the Hill for fear that saboteurs would poison the water supply.
In 1932, Mayor Charles F. Martin suggested that the park be developed through unemployed labor due to the Great Depression. Prior to this time, the only way to the top was by foot, horseback and wagon team. Through federal relief programs known as the Civilian Works Administration and the Federal Emergency Relief Association, two 18 foot roads, two stone shelter houses and new restrooms were built. The project was completed by the Works Progress Administration and the formal dedication was held in 1934. In 1936, a registration book kept in the superintendent’s office showed that more than 25,000 persons from Ohio and surrounding states, and five foreign countries had visited the park.
No article about Horn’s Hill would be complete without mentioning WGSF-TV the TV station owned and operated by Newark City Schools out of a small building high atop Horn’s Hill. The station existed for thirteen years, from March of 1963 to June of 1976. WCLT’s Bill Clifford had a great commentary on an interview he did with Leland Hubbell, station engineer for WGSF. The written article can be found by searching for WGSF in the news archives at www.wclt.com. Another interesting site, managed by Mr. Hubbell, can be found at http://wgsf.oldgleaner.com/.
Information gathered from various sources by Robert Tharp on behalf of The Licking County Historical Society.
Submitted by: Raynola StClair