Sharon Tinianow, formerly the Director of Sustainability Initiatives, managed a variety of programs, events, exhibits, and institutional initiatives at COSI in Columbus, OH. She joined COSI in 1998 and in previous roles at COSI she served as the Workshop Reservations Coordinator, Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Education, and Education Project Manager. Ms. Tinianow holds a Master’s Degree in Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University and a Bachelor’s Degree from Kent State University.
The thought of paddling our way from one end of O’Shaughnessy Reservoir to the other was less than
appealing. Without a current to help you along, paddling a lake takes more effort. The presence of
power boats and water skiers means you have to hug the shoreline. The sheer size of the body of water
means you either choose to limit your exploration to one shore or you circle the lake in the blazing
sun. All of this is my way of explaining why I chose to explore O’Shaughnessy mainly by car – with one
kayaking excursion. In spite of not being on the water for the entire length of O’Shaughnessy, I found
this part of the Scioto River surprisingly interesting.
It was sunny and cool on June 15 when George, David and I headed to a put in point just south of the town of Prospect. We sited a Red Headed Woodpecker on the road that parallels the Scioto. River mile 170.93 is just below an old dam. A pipe that runs under the road carries run off from farm fields into the river. The high levels of algae growth indicate that nutrients, like fertilizer, are in the water that the pipe carries.
My first canoe trip on the Scioto was on May 11. The weather was perfect – sunny, cool, and with only a light breeze. There are three people and two canoes in our party. George Anderson, local photographer, is in the solo canoe he built himself with a case of photography equipment, and David Rutter, MORPC’s Water Quality Project Manager, and I are in the second canoe which we rented from Columbus Outdoor Pursuits.
Getting to this moment involved a great deal of planning and management of logistics. Here is how it went:
Driving east out of Kenton on State Route 309, I find myself almost immediately back in farm country. County Road 144 veers off to the southeast and pretty much follows the course of the Scioto River. One unique aspect of the river at this part of its course is that it flows so close to the sub-continental divide – a ridge that divides the waters that flow south into the Ohio River from those that flow north into Lake Erie. This results in no permanent tributaries entering the Scioto from the north, but several adding their waters from the south. Wolf Creek, Jim Creek, Panther Creek and Wild Cat Run all flow north into to the Scioto over the course of the next several miles.
The first leg of my Scioto River journey took place on April 13, a sunny, cool day that was perfect weather for exploring. My friend Joan and I headed up to Kenton, the county seat of Hardin County. I was worried about being able to find the source of the river. It is easy to trace the course of the river upstream from Columbus to Kenton using a DeLorme Altas or Google maps. But west of Kenton the stream is so narrow that it is hard to follow on a map. Topographic maps in 7.5 minute scale show more detail, however, and we found the spot. It turns out a handy sign on Roundhead Township Road 15 marks the spot, as well, so I needn’t have worried.