Berea - Onion  LbNA # 46567

Placed DateApr 22 2009
LocationBerea, OH
Found By Shicksters
Last Found Mar 29 2013
Hike Distance?

You will be looking for a two cup (5x3x3½”) lock & lock container that is covered with camouflage duct tape.

MATERIALS NEEDED: The box contains only a logbook and a stamp. Please bring your own Stamp-pad or Inking pens as well as a writing instrument.


DIFFICULTY: Recovery of this box will require travel on a paved all purpose trail.
Hike Length: 2.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 100 feet


Our family has resided in Berea since 1980, but we have only recently developed an interest in letterboxing.

Although we are very fortunate that the area is rich in letterboxing opportunities, I find that few of them have themes that are specific to the Berea area.

I am now placing a number of letterboxes featuring local culture, points of interest and history.

This, my sixth Berea box, is planted to document the history of the Podunk Swamp and the Berea Onion



When pioneers first settled Berea, they found that a formation consisting of several lakes and a series of marshlands, know as Podunk Swamp, covered a large part of North East portion of the settlement. This land is the location of the present day cities Middelburg Heights, and Brook Park.

The swamp extended from south of Fowles Road and Lake Isaac north to Lake Abram near Sheldon and Eastland roads, and on up into the southern part of Hopkins International Airport.

Farmers realized that the rich soil of the swamp, described as “black muck,” was ideal for growing onions and other vegetables.

Around 1843, unhampered by Wetlands protection, they dug out and widened a small creek with hand shovels from Lake Abram to the Rocky River. This channel, called Abram Creek, can be seen today flowing under small bridges on Sheldon and Eastland Roads.

This was the start of a very successful farming industry specialized in growing onions. For decades these “Berea Onions” were as highly prized as Vidalia onions are today. Local farmers shipped tons of onions all over the eastern half of the United States, and as far south as Alabama and Georgia.

Each time that the production slowed down the swamp was drained further. Eventually the farming era in our community came to an end as the population and demand for housing grew and the soil was depleted, But not before most of the swamp was drained.

In recent years local residents became aware of the importance of these wetlands. As a result the Cleveland Metropark district has taken about 15 years to amass 105 acres, and spent $4.5 million to construct a 3. 2 mile trail of asphalt, boardwalk and public roadways connecting the remnants of Podunk Swamp. A long section of this trail links the two largest remaining glacial pothole lakes in Cuyahoga County: Lake Isaac in the Big Creek Reservation, and Lake Abram, using park-owned land that straddles Berea and Middleburg Heights. A map is available at Lake to Lake but it is a large and slow download.

I have provided several photos of this trail here.

The raised boardwalk provides public access to vital wetlands teeming with waterfowl, warblers, wrens and wildlife at Lake Abram. Before the installation of the boardwalk, the marsh, reeds and briers that surround the lake made it practically impenetrable
Interpretive signs are to be erected that explain the evolution of the lakes and describe the experiences of the early settlers who encountered mountain lions, wolves and bears in the area. In addition all-weather field guides along the boardwalk will help visitors to identify the reptiles and amphibians, plants and birds of the marsh. And a high-powered spotting scope will be mounted on an observation deck beside the lake.

One of the biggest obstacles was figuring out a way to safely maneuver the trail over the CSX rail tracks near the intersection of Engle and Fowles roads. Planners solved the problem by digging under the tracks, excavating a 137-foot tunnel through the railroad embankment. The tunnel is 14 feet in diameter and 11 feet high and runs under an active CSX rail line. The tunnel will allow people to walk or bike under the rail line.

As of this writing the path is very near completion with the only work remain being the installation of directive, informational and interpretive signs along the trail and the cleanup of construction debris.

Funding came from grants from the Clean Ohio Trail Fund, the State of Ohio Nature Works Grant, the City of Cleveland and the Abram Creek/Airport Mitigation Fund. Cleveland Metroparks is funding the remainder of the project.


Driving Directions To Lake Isaac:
I-71 - exit at Pearl Rd. (Rt 42)
(from the north, turn left/ from the south, turn right), at Fowles Rd. Turn left (west) to Big Creek Parkway (.5 mile). Turn left on Big Creek Parkway. Lake Isaac Waterfowl Sanctuary will be on the right.

Park in the Lake Isaac lot and pick up the Lake to Lake trail at the North end (back towards Fowles Rd.). The trail is a wide blacktop all purpose route. After a short distance you will cross over the first one of the boardwalks that distinguish this trail. Continue on crossing Fowles road at the traffic light. Staying with the trail you will cross several more small boardwalks and pass under the railroad tracks via the newly constructed pedestrian tunnel. Enjoy your walk along the edge of the marsh and keep a sharp watch for wildlife. You will walk about a mile before you arrive at the Fowles Marsh boardwalk. This is a premium structure which features a covered viewing pavilion in the center of it. A great place to rest and take in nature. I have seen much wildlife along this stretch already. For those “Turtle” letterboxers look carefully below as you come off the end of this boardwalk as I have frequently seen turtles sunning themselves on logs here.

So you are almost there. Continue on about 50-60 paces and look to your left for a cluster of four smaller trees growing from the same base with two older and larger dead trunks directly behind them.

I am told that between the roots of the old dead trunks covered with roots and rocks is a good place to find onions.


Please let me know the status of this box when you find it.
It is helpful if you log your find both here and on Atlas Quest

I hope that you enjoy this adventure.