Governor James Rhodes signing a bill to make the Buckeye Trail the official hiking trail of Ohio, April 27, 1967. Pictured with Governor Rhodes (from left to right) are Kenneth D. Crawford; Merrill Gilfallan; Senator Harry Armstrong; Governor James Rhodes; William S. Miller, then president of the Buckeye Trail Association; Senator Ralph Regula and Robert R. Paton.
Below is an email I received from Lee Krieder. Lee was active in the Buckeye Trail Association forty years ago. I met him along the trail in Dayton on Sunday.
Lee writes ...
Have you ever heard the name Bob Paton? Let me say that had there been no Bob Paton there would have been no Buckeye Trail...at least not what it is today.I have a sketchy bio in my memory of Bob.
- He was a unique character.
- He taught forestry at Oberlin College and almost everyone in the field of outdoor science and recreation in Ohio attended one of Bob's classes at one time or another.
- He was Associate State Forester.
- He founded and then edited for many years The Ohio Woodlands magazine.
- After retirement he became one of the founding members of the BTA and was executive director for many years. See his photo at the signing of the BT bill.
That is the role he had when I first met Bob. As we worked together on the development of the BT on the western side of the state I found that everyone who mattered and I do mean everyone knew Bob Paton.
If we went to the Miami Conservancy District, they all knew Bob. If we went to the Park District they knew Bob. Glenn Helen, State Park Directors...no matter to whom we went, they knew Bob. You cannot believe how many doors he opened.
We were exploring how much of the old canal tow path could be used for the trail. As you probably have already discovered much of the canal had been taken over by squatters. Now as Bob pointed out quite frequently, "You can't take adverse possession against the State of Ohio." That meant that once the state owned a property no amount of neglect would mean a loss of title. Technically, unless the canal was sold, the state still owned it.
With that in mind and with land ownership maps in had, Bob was exploring the canal in the Newport area only to find that someone had built a fence across it. Bob was aggressive and this did not set well with him. The property belonged to the state of Ohio and he had the right to hike across it. However, the guy who had built the fence had a different idea and confronted him with a shot gun. He was alone at the time.
Several hours later he appeared in my office in Dayton and was still shaken by the event.
Nothing came of it. Although the State had the right to the land, politicians were reluctant to pursue.