Students at The College at Brockport participated in the 2016 Earth Day of Service Saturday, April 30, taking part in the beautification of Maplewood Park in the City of Rochester.
The group of students cleaned trash in the park, first receiving a bit of history about the historic location. George Payne, who founded the Gandhi Earth Keepers International organization and co-founded the Lower Falls Foundation, led the group around the park, providing insight into the park’s past. The park was designed in 1904 by the same man who designed Central Park and Yosemite National Park, Frederick Law Olmsted. Despite the park being such an old fixture, many people don’t know of it, nor do they know it as the location of Kelsey’s Landing, a famous jumping-off point and a last stop for escaping slaves traveling the Underground Railroad. The area also used to house up to 1,500 Senecan Native Americans for part of the year as they fished and hunted near the Genesee River’s bank.
With all of the historically significant events taking place in the same area, Maplewood Park is a unique landmark students were able to experience and beautify. Other parks may have the similar elements of Maplewood Park but never all in one place.
“The Lower Falls Gorge is unlike any other park in America,” Payne said. “In a way it is a microcosm of American history.”
Volunteers were shocked they had never heard or been to Maplewood Park, there was talk of returning and spending time hiking or enjoying the view.