The Great Black Swamp
What’s with the name? Traversed by the Maumee and Auglaize Rivers and numerous small streams, Paulding County is located entirely within that part of northwest Ohio once known as the Great Black Swamp. The first white visitors discovered a land dominated by water, mosquitoes and forest so thick that in some places the ground never saw the summer sun.
Just the Facts….
The Black Swamp Wildlife Area is 51 acres consisting of 24 acres of woodland, 14 acres of wetlands, and 6 acres of old meadow. A boat launch allows easy access to Flat Rock Creek, while trails wonder around the top banks of three ponds along Flat Rock Creek and past the old Sugar Beet dam. The Paulding County Fairgrounds border the Nature Center on the northeast side, with two access trails allowing easy entrance. The old meadow and wetland areas provide an excellent habitat for many species of birds and plant life. The Black Swamp Nature Center provides a wonderful area to observe bird life, especially during the spring and fall migrations. The diversity of “mini-habitats” gives the visitor an opportunity to observe woodland, marshland, and meadow species within a very small area. Numerous species of birds have been seen and documented on this site, 175 to be exact! During the summer months, the Nature Center provides nesting cover for many songbirds as well. The Black Swamp Nature Center rewards the watchful eye and attentive ear with many delights.
History of the Black Swamp Wildlife Area and Nature Center
The Black Swamp Center was not always a Nature Center. It used to be a part of an old Sugar Beet Factory. Built in 1910, the German-American Beet Factory came to be. Four ponds were constructed for the factory just south of the buildings along the Flat Rock Creek. The pond water was not used for drinking, but to be pumped to the factory to move the beets to production. Eventually the cost of production of the sugar beets rose enough that it forced the factory to close down.
The wildlife area was established in 1958. The state purchased the land and from 1958 – 1990, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) spent monies to turn the area into wetlands, wooded areas, and ponds into a fish stocked, wildlife refuge park with a driveway and parking lot. The ponds were eventually abandoned by ODNR as deep-water fishing ponds because the ponds were not originally constructed for deep permanent water basins.
Eventually the Ohio governor sold the property over to the Paulding County Commissioners, who then leased the property to the Paulding Area Foundation. During this time, several groups joined together to form the Paulding County Wildlife Association. The Paulding County Wildlife Association formed a board and their focus was habitat retention and restoration.
In 2000, planning of an Education Building was being heavily talked about among the board. A lot of planning, organization, and contacts were made through the state to secure funding for this building. Months of construction, communication, meetings, organizing, and paperwork, the building was completed in the early fall of 2002. The availability of a structure for education use has been what finishes of a picturesque view of nature. Today, the Nature Center Building is still owned by the Paulding County Commissioners and managed by Paulding SWCD. The building is available for workshops, training, meetings, youth groups, and personal rentals. It is encouraged of teachers, scout leaders, 4-H leaders, schools, youth groups and all other organizations to utilize the area as an indoor/outdoor classroom or meeting room. The wildlife area is open to the public from dawn to dusk or walking, fishing, and other forms of outdoor recreation.
To read the history in full detail or to download the informational brochure, click here.