Now that we’re more focused on the transformations along the waterfront, we should remember to note a few of the more obscure settings that may not be on our radar. Even the most fervent fans of the sites along the Buffalo River can be taken aback when shown a photo of Red Jacket River Front Park. “Where is that?” or “I’ve never heard of it.” That’s the sort of response that a mention of the park gets. I’ve ventured to this waterfront park numerous times to walk the trails and watch the sun as it sets over the grain mills. This park is full of trails that wind up and down hills, around marshes, and through wooded land. There are park benches and murals, willow trees, a canoe/kayak launch and excellent natural habitat areas. A granite park bench that sits high atop a bluff seconds as a dedication to the Red Jacket Peninsula and includes a map legend and a historic account of the property. Best of all, the park is located on the river, which means that the scene is ever-changing with plenty of small craft boating activity.
After speaking with Peg Overdorf (Valley Community Center), I came away with a bit of history pertaining to this park, which is located in The Valley just off South Park on Smith Street. Red Jacket River Front Park was once a parking area for workers at Concrete Central. Fifteen years ago The County, The City and The State came together and cleaned it up in preparation for park land that is maintained by The County to this day. If you keep walking along the river heading south, you will find a fence… that is known as ‘Area D’ – formerly one of the ten toxic spots around. ‘Area D’ (formerly site of Local Color) was eventually capped and is now being prepared for the home of WNY railway Historical Society along with the Greenway Trail that will connect multiple locations along the river.
Red Jacket River Front Park is a quiet getaway that is obscure to say the least. If you end up at taking a stroll here, you may not even run across another soul during your visit. It’s a place to reflect upon – whether it’s the history or the reclamation of the landscape, or even the future of the Buffalo River.