Lawrence County is moving forward with its vision of creating a park at the former Quakertown settlement in Mahoning Township.
The commissioners at their meeting Tuesday awarded a contract to RAR Engineering Group Inc. of New Castle for the engineering of the project. The firm will be paid up to $68,500 for its services, which will include engineering, permitting, construction drawings and oversight of the project.
The project is being funded with grant money from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The commissioners a year ago approved the purchase of the 180-acre tract of land named Quaker Falls from Penn Power for $15,000.
The county, in keeping with recommendations in its Greenways Plan and the Mahoning River Conservation Plan, intends to develop the park on the acreage located off Route 224 in an area that once was settled in the 19th century as Quakertown. The old settlement had been uncovered in an archaeological dig in the 1980s.
The first two phases of the plans will include the creation of a parking area with sidewalks and trail to the falls overlook area.
According to the plans, the park is expected to be done this year. Future project phases would eventually provide restrooms and an enclosed nature center. The plans are being facilitated by the county planning office.
In 1985 and 1994, remnants of “Quakertown” village were described in articles in archeological journals written by Youngstown State University professor John R. White, as a result of his excavations there. White led a team of students on agricultural digs in the Quakertown area, and wrote articles about the once prosperous Quaker community that had eight houses, 10 wells, a schoolhouse, a general store, three mills, three barns, a railroad depot, a cemetery and a sandstone quarry. The Quakertown inhabitants left in 1935, according to White, who believed people had settled there because of aesthetics and advantages of the waterfall and fertile land.
Quaker Falls is a former strip mined area and has steep cliffs. The area has since been used by local residents as a recreation area.