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Barkcamp Staff Building Components for Storybook Trails Across Ohio

photo by: Robert A. DeFrank

Barkcamp State Park maintenance staff member Lou Kolb, left, and maintenance supervisor Brandon Krock stand at the entrance to the park’s new Storybook Trail. They have built frames and components for trails throughout the state and will be making more through the summer.

When employees at Barkcamp State Park designed and built the new Storybook Trail — marked by frames showcasing enlarged pages from children’s books – it was far from their first such project.

Barkcamp’s work on Storybook Trails is known across the state, since the staff produced components for 10 trails last year and will be producing frames and components for nine more walks this year. During the dedication of the local trail last week, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz said it was appropriate that Barkcamp have a storywalk of its own.

“Like the director said, it was fitting that we actually put one where a lot of the work for these things are being done. My staff that actually builds these things and sends them across the state, to actually see what their process does for the public and our visitors, it’s good for them to see how much people enjoy what they do,” Park Manager Jason Carpenter said.

He added that the campground’s staff members are skilled and experienced in welding and metalworking.

“It’s nothing new for Barkcamp. Barkcamp has always been what we call an in-house industry for the state park system, whether fire rings, grills, tables, lots of special projects like that,” Carpenter said.

Visitors to the park can see the finished product, from the storywalk’s distinctive archway welcoming visitors to the bridges and stairs leading readers along the trail.

Brandon Krock, maintenance supervisor, commended his staff.

“I’m really impressed with the maintenance staff here and all they’ve done with the weeks leading up to it. It’s been a really close deadline that we had to follow, and the guys really stepped up to the plate and got a lot of nice work done in a really short period of time,” Krock said.

Krock said between the bridge and the staircase and all the panels, the effort took three to four weeks to complete.

“On top of cutting that trail, benching the trail and adding different features to the trail, we fabricate and weld all the steel for the rest of the stories in the state, and there’s nine other stories in this order,” Krock said, adding they have filled identical orders at other state parks. “The same 16 pages. About a half-mile loop at each park and those’ll be scattered all across the state.”

Their work is featured on Storybook Trails at Alum Creek State Park, Burr Oak State Park, Dillon State Park, Great Seal State Park, John Byran State Park, Mary Jane Thurston State Park, Maumee Bay State Park, Shawnee State Park, Sycamore State Park and Wingfoot Lake State Park.

“They’re all happening in the spring or the summer. Some of them are happening in the late summer. Most of them are going to be this spring,” Krock said. “We do a lot of in-house industries here. We build all the fire rings and grills and produce all the firewood bundles for the rest of the state.”

Krock said park staff member Lou Kolb crafts the entrance signs for each state park using his computerized numerical control machine and recycled plastic.

“We do a lot of stuff in-house,” Krock said.

“It started out as firewood back in the late 1980s. They built a sawmill here and they started distributing firewood bundles to be sold at the camp stores across the state,” Krock said. “And then all sorts of steel fabrication projects. Anything the state needs. I think we’re doing a couple for the State Fair.”

He said staff members take to whatever task they are assigned.

Krock said it was also enjoyable to see Union Local School District third-graders take a tour of the storywalk at its dedication last week.

“The kids loved it, and we were grateful for having Union Local come out,” Krock said. “It was a beautiful day for a hike.”

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