Monday, May 24, 1999

Biology professor creates a walk in the park

The Cincinnati Enquirer

A spearpoint found on the trail is estimated to be about 6,000 years old.
(Yoni Pozner photos)
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        Stan Hedeen's devotion to Ault Park continues to pay off. Working with the park board, the Xavier University biology professor created a self-guided, hilly tree walk with 21 species labeled for passers-by.

        “I'm out there every day,” he said.

        It's no ordeal. The Hedeen home abuts the park. Typically, he walks with his eyes on the leafy canopy, more than 50 feet above the trail.

        Recently, Mr. Hedeen lowered his gaze and hit pay dirt: a stone spear-point at least 6,000 years old.

        “I was picking up litter, and there it was at the foot of a tulip tree ... It seems that people have been littering the woods for a long time.”

        Mr. Hedeen brushed the filth of millennia from the 21/2-inch weapon. “It's a beauty,” he said.

Biology professor Stan Hedeen.
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        Colleagues, who identified the age of the spear-head, said the point probably was mounted on a short spear, launched with a grooved throwing stick for greater force.

        Who that archaic hunter was is even less certain, Mr. Hedeen said. “This is one of those tribes that we don't know what happened to them.”

        That, however, was not his only discovery.

        Fallen leaves revealed four trees he had not noticed when he created the interpretive walk three years ago.

        Now, they too are labeled, including the Asian ailanthus, which English settlers brought to Waynesville to feed silkworms in a failed attempt to establish that industry.

        Although the ailanthus migrated from Warren County, he said, it is nowhere near as invasive as another Asian transplant, the honeysuckle.

        Another is sassafras, whose parts were used for teas and root beer, soap scents, and medicine flavors.

        Black maple and bur oak are the other new finds.

        Two trees on his original trail map are casualties of recent winds, Mr. Hedeen said, and their plaques have been moved to other hackberry and black cherry trees.

        All 25 varieties now are identified on updated maps — printed by XU's biology department — available at the trail head north of the Ault Park pavilion.

        Among them is a towering centuries-old American beech, whose three-lobed beech nuts once fattened pigs en route to the slaughter that gave Cincinnati its early nickname, Porkopolis.


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