Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller
Expedition Date: October 22, 2016
In the summer of 1972 when not attending Fairmont West High School, John Spears, Dennis Griffith and I would hike the wooded area, sand & gravel pits and ridge line in the northeast part of Moraine between the railroad tracks and Carillon Park/Calvary Cemetery. Often we would climb and ride the trains short distances (once the train did not stop and we rode it clear to Cincinnati which was a scary adventure). On one hike while following a deer trail on the ridgeline we noticed a gravestone off by itself in the woods. It read Bernard Gansford, 1820-1876.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Well, maybe none. But Dayton was founded in 1805. Bernard had to be an early pioneer. If he (and maybe his family) lived near his burial site it was a prime time spot in the woods and near the clean Miami River for hunting and fishing. I spoke to staff at Dayton History (Carillon Park) while researching a different project and they wanted to know if I could find and confirm the name, date and location of the gravestone and they would research this pioneer being that the grave is relatively close to their park.
THE HIKE: Being 44 years later things have changed. The gravel/sand company is gone as is the former County Incinerator replaced by the County Solid Waste Transfer & Recycling Station and businesses like Compunet and Weiler Welding on Sandridge Drive. The deep wooded Calvary Ridge area we had to search is behind these buildings with Calvary Cemetery over the hill on the east side.
The hike began at 10:30am. Temperature was 86 degrees and very humid. There was no discernible trail. As we ascended we walked through some grass land but mainly knee to waist high weeds, grass and thistle bushes. We had many dead ends due to tree and weed thickets. We retraced our steps many times and came upon a sandy limestone cliff face pockmarked with holes. This otherworldly sight turned out to be hundreds of swallow houses as the birds swooped in and out of the holes. A quarter mile later behind the transfer station I found something white and round buried in the ground in the weeds. Then another. Rosie and I ended up finding 25 golf balls out in the weedy middle of nowhere. I am sure there are more. I finally found a small trail with few weeds that headed up a steep hillside to a grassy area. At the summit where the grass was it was clear and the tree line near the ridge top was only 75 yards away. I was very spent from the climb and the recent chemotherapy, hot and dizzy. It was now 88 degrees. I sipped water, took photos and rested. I returned downhill to where Rosie waited. I spotted a deer but it turned out to be a joke on me – a plastic deer standing in the woods. So soon I will return and hike and explore further up the hill seeking the old trail and the gravestone.