Long-neglected site a diamond in the rough

A pristine lake and the advent of rail trails to Allen County helped turn a woolly wilderness into a wonderland. Today, the Lehigh Portland site could be our gateway to a state park.



February 3, 2023 - 4:21 PM

No matter the time of year the Lehigh Portland trails present nature at its best. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

For the first 40 years that Iola Industries owned the land surrounding the old Lehigh quarry, “we wondered what could possibly happen here that would be good,” John McRae, president of Iola Industries, is quoted in a Register story from 2016.

The land was overgrown with vines as big as your arm, the underbrush crawled with poison ivy and oak, and all kinds of trash from the abandoned cement plant littered the fields.

As a kid, I remember hearing the plant’s rail cars lumber along the tracks that lay just across Elm Creek, the train’s breaks shrieking with each demand. 

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