Worden Ledges and Homestead
From the Akron Beacon Journal:
HINCKLEY TWP.:| It is unnerving looking at Ty Cobb's bigger-than-life face.
The somewhat surreal visage of the old-time baseball star is 4 feet high and carved into the side of a 30-foot-high sandstone cliff in northeast Medina County.
Welcome to Worden's Ledges in Cleveland Metroparks' Hinckley Reservation. It is among the little-known park secrets, attractions and trails that you can find in Northeast Ohio if you are willing to explore a little off the beaten track.
Self-made folk artist Noble Stuart (1882-1976) carved Cobb's weathered face in a stone grotto dominated by green ?? leafy trees, ferns and moss-covered rocks ?? off Ledge Road.
Not far away are George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and a cross with a Bible, all carved by Stuart, a native of Michigan who was a bricklayer by trade and carved the cliffs in the 1940s.
''It's a very unique place with lots of natural and cultural history,'' park naturalist Sharon Hosko said. ‘'It’s a very cool place.''
The first carving to greet hikers is a sphinx with its lion's body and man's face.
Nearby in stone is the bearded face of Hiram M. Worden (1818-1896), Stuart's father-in-law who built the Ledge Road homestead in 1862. The 1851 date of his wedding to Melissa Bissell is etched into the rocks.
The name Nettie ?? the Wordens' daughter and Stuart's wife ?? is carved into one boulder.
There is also a schooner in honor of Stuart's father, Charles, a Great Lakes sailor who drowned in Thunder Bay on Lake Superior.
In all, there are nine carvings at the ledges and three cement-and-steel sculptures by Stuart near the old farmhouse.
Stuart, who came to Ohio in 1918, married Nettie in 1944. She was 80 and he was 64. Both were married twice previously, only to be widowed.
He did his carvings from 1944 to 1948 ?? with much of the work being done in the 21/2 years after Nettie's death in 1945.
Stuart carved whatever he wanted, including his friend Cobb, a former Detroit Tiger.
When asked why he did what he did, Stuart responded: ‘'I merely wanted to keep in practice and create something that might last for a while.’'
Some of his carvings are starting to erode. The short bill on Cobb's ball cap has broken off and some chalk and graffiti have appeared in recent years, Hosko said.
It's an easy mile round-trip hike from the Worden Heritage Homestead at 895 Ledge Road (it is the home of the Hinckley Historical Society) to Stuart's carvings and back.
The park district acquired the property in 1984 and offers a few guided programs at Worden's Ledges.
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