What Bluffton’s Swinging Nature Preserve has in common with Neil Armstrong and Jimi Hendrix


Some pretty major events occurred in 1969. On August 20 of that year, Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon and immortalized the words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Just a few days earlier, more than 400,000 music lovers attended “Woodstock” to hear Jimi Hendrix; the Who; and Crosby, Stills and Nash, among others.

Opposition to the Vietnam War continued to gain strength with demonstrations staged around the country — some peaceful, some violent.

And in a tiny town in northwest Ohio, the local college completed construction of a swinging bridge that spanned the Riley Creek and became a favorite destination for those hiking the paths of Bluffton University’s Swinging Bridge Nature Preserve.

In 1969, I was 13. Go ahead, you do the math. Since then, I’ve crossed that bridge and skated under it countless times. Even so, each time I cross it, I’m struck by a sense of amazement and peace.

My guess is that a lot of people who live in Bluffton, Ohio, are not even aware that the bridge exists nor of the many trails that wind through the nature preserve.

Needing a bit of that peace and quiet, this morning’s run took me along the paths of the preserve, ending up at the bridge. Here’s what I found:

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