Inspired by an October moonrise that was viewed from Presque Isle, this amazing story reaches back into geological time, and traces the history of a place that locals and visitors have come to know as their "peninsula."
Dr. David Frew and Jerry Skrypzak combine story-telling and amazing photography to create a stunningly beautiful book. "Accidental Paradise" answers questions as it details natural and human history. Where did the sand come from? Did Eriez Indians live there? How did the process of succession grow the peninsula and what happened on Presque Isle before it became a state park? Who decided how and where the roads should be engineered and why did Erie's Water Department own much of the center of the peninsula? Were War of 1812 sailors really buried in Graveyard Pond?
The book arrives at the 100th anniversary of Presque Isle State Park (1921 to 2021) and as the title suggests, it documents the good fortune that has repeatedly saved the peninsula from disaster. Early on, the Army Corps of Engineers almost made Presque Isle into an island by establishing a navigable channel through the western arm. Later, while no one was paying attention, market hunters, trappers and loggers denuded forested regions, which could have destabilized the fragile sand base and caused Presque Isle to wash away. Then city fathers tried to sell Presque Isle to Andrew Carnegie who intended to build a steel mill there. Imagine a nasty, smoke-belching factory with railroad bridges, taconite and coal piles in place of paradise. But then, just as the fate of the fragile sand spit seemed most at risk, the State of Pennsylvania made Presque Isle into a state park, assuring that it would be protected for generations to come. Struggles continue, however. Recent high lake levels have been eating away at the park, eroding beaches, flooding interior trails and toppling trees. As the book goes to press, a freak November 2020 storm has closed Presque Isle, covered roadways with tons of sand, and flooded Waterworks. Has Lake Erie changed? Is the climate warming? The answers are explored in the book.
While "Accidental Paradise" identifies contemporary threats and concerns, it is essentially a story of hope and promise. Beautiful images, poetry, and wonderful stories percolate from the pages, as the prose traces a legacy of history and details the partners who have grown with the park: Waldameer, Erie Water Works, Algeria Farms, Sarah's, the Coast Guard and more. Enjoy the book, then go to Presque Isle. Wander beaches, roadways and trails. Visit TREC and attend programs. Feel the wonder as you honor the history.
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