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Once popular tourist site used to be home to local Indian tribes

By WILLIAM CASTEEL Correspondent, NCTnews Published: April 26, 2017 12:00 AM
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Devil's Den, once a popular tourist attraction in Tuscarawas County, was discovered in the 1770's, and frequented by American Indian tribes that resided in the area at that time. Devil's Den began as a natural tourist site starting in the early 1900s and later became known as Devil's Den Park in later years.

Devil's Den, was known for its rugged, natural terrain of odd rock formations, ledges, caves, a spring-fed lake, and a sixty-foot waterfall that cascades over a rocky cliff. The area was described in a book by western writer, Zane Grey, titled The Spirit of the Border. Grey described it as a popular rendezvous for individuals such as Wetzel, the Avenger, and other Shawnee Indian fighters that roamed the area on the 1800s. According to the Shawnee's, Wetzel was known as the Wind of Death, a shadow, a spirit of menace from the dark forest of Devil's Den. To the settlers coming from the eastern states, migrating into early Ohio wilderness, Wetzel was the right arm of defense who made settlement in the mid-west states a possibility.

Devil's Den Park, located near Gnadenhutten, was developed by Steve Storad in 1958. The multi-purpose park included a playground, camping, and picnic area, and became a popular spot for group gatherings, reunions, and family weekend vacations. Visitors could hike and tour the caves, swim, boat, play horseshoes, tennis, and go swimming at the newly developed park. In 1960, the admission price to the park was fifty cents for adults and twenty-five cents for children.

By the early 1970's, the park fell out of favor with tourists and was later rumored to have been utilized for naturalists as a nudist colony.

Though no longer open to the public as a tourist site, Devil's Den remains as a natural habitat of beauty, legend, and memories.


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