We were blessed with still another picture-perfect day here in Southeast Michigan, so my destination was Heritage Park in Taylor. I have passed that Park’s entrance hundreds of times through the years, when I traveled up Northline Road to Southland Mall, but it was my first visit there.
I knew this Park would hold much appeal for me, the nature lover and walker. Plus, I was looking forward to visiting the historical village area where you have the opportunity to travel back in time, by checking out the historical homes and walking across a covered wooden bridge.
On such a beautiful Saturday, I expected there might be big crowds, so I arrived shortly after the Park opened at 8:00 a.m. I parked as far away as possible, hoping to maximize my steps for my excursion.
I decided to take a tour of the historical buildings and just enjoy the scenery first, then take pictures later.
The centerpiece of Heritage Park and its historical buildings is beautiful Coan Lake, which is a large manmade pond.
Surrounding this picturesque pond are several buildings of historical significance to the City of Taylor, as well as a beautiful gazebo.
There was the proverbial little red schoolhouse, which looked just as you might have pictured from your grandparents’ description of the one-room building where they learned the three Rs. Its size reminded me of the tiny Walnut Grove schoolhouse featured in the TV series “Little House on the Prairie”.
There was an exact replica of an old water mill which was interesting, especially since you could get right up close to the big wheel that operated the mill.
An old red caboose a/k/a “Fitz’s Caboose” and boxcar sit on some railroad tracks. That caboose evoked a few fond memories of the many times we would need to cross the railroad tracks when we travelled to and from my grandmother’s house in Toronto. Though my parents would no doubt stew over the long wait while the train rambled on and on as it rumbled over the tracks, my mom would say “Linda: the end of the choo-choo train is near, so wave to the engineer on the caboose and he’ll wave back to you!” Lots of fun times when you’re a kid and waving to the caboose engineer and often he did wave back; this seems like a lifetime ago.
A rustic log cabin has the notoriety of being the oldest house in Taylor – it is over 150 years old and still used for meetings throughout the year.
There were other old houses, some which have become a small museum, or a sweet shop, another is a souvenir store, and there is an old church with a wishing well out front.
The historical area of Heritage Park reminded me a little of Upper Canada Village where I visited with my parents when I was young. That Canadian tourist attraction is similar to Greenfield Village, where you are able to walk around and visit homes filled with old-time relics or artifacts, with people dressed in clothing reflecting those time periods.
There were so many sights to see that on the second go-around, this time holding the camera, I discovered I had missed a whole area where there was a tall yellow historical house next to where the Goodwill Garden is located.
The Goodwill Garden is a community effort where different people have small plots of land and tend to flowers and vegetables. All the produce grown there is donated to local food banks and other charitable organizations. The flowers in and around the Goodwill Garden area were gorgeous, and, as far as the eye can see, it was plot after plot of rich earth, filled with colorful blooms and veggies.
Years ago, when I visited Frankfurt, Germany with my parents, I first heard about the concept of having your own garden plot if you lived in the city. It was common for Frankfurt city dwellers to own plots of land in a rural area where they could grow their own fruits and veggies and/or have a flower garden. Those large areas of land were divided into long strips, all individual plots, and people bought a plot, then plopped a small potting shed and a table and chairs there. It was an outlet for fresh air and exercise, plus an endless supply of fresh produce all Summer.
After leaving the historical village area, I headed over to the covered wooden bridge. In my travels, I have never seen a covered bridge so I took several shots of it, from different angles, then walked over the wooden planks, gazing into the water at all the ducks – probably a hundred of them, gathered in the water by the bridge.
The entire grounds are so picturesque, especially Coan Lake, which features several fountains and catch-and-release fishing. There were several men fishing near the covered bridge. Again, the water was filled with mallards, mostly females. I wished I had brought bread for them as you could get so close to the edge of the water. Both the gazebo and a small pier gave an excellent view of the water and the collection of ducks, and even geese that grazed nearby.
After my extensive tour of the lake and village, I then went on the walking path which took me around the entire Park – whew! Luckily I had picked a cool day for this trip as I’d already covered well over three miles before I even started on the walking trail.
My last stop was to visit the Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Garden which is located on the fringe of Heritage Park near Pardee Road.
But, it was not open to the public today, as signs indicated a private event (wedding) would be taking place. But, I was able to get up close and peer inside.
Likewise, I looked around the grounds of the petting farm but did not go inside any of the barns. The barnyard had some pigs and a couple of chickens strutting around, plus a pair of ducks that were enjoying their own blue plastic kid’s swimming pool.
I think I will head to Heritage Park more often; perhaps I’ll make a stop there once the colors change. There were already leaves starting to gather at the base of the trees in the wooded areas of the walking trail, and, as I walked past them, I could detect that faintly musty smell of decaying leaves – it is just a matter of time now, before they will be fluttering to the ground.
I loved meandering through this place full of mallards and memories. It was an enjoyable, and even exhausting, trip as my pedometer read 6 ¼ miles by the time I finally reached my car and gratefully sank down into the seat.