Play by 12-foot-high limestone head at park by Scioto River

Little did we know that on the very day we visited the Leatherlips monument in the Columbus suburb of Dublin, the limestone sculpture of a Native American chief was quietly celebrating its 22nd birthday.

Not that we would have known. There was no one else around the 12-foot-high limestone head on this sweltering day. But on July 1, 1990, the Dublin Arts Council held a dedication ceremony at the statue’s location in Scioto Park, an area along the Scioto River that was once home to the Wyandot chief, as well as near his unfortunate place of death.

In addition to the Leatherlips statue, the park has a play area, several picnic shelters and an amphitheater with grass seating and a 1,000-square-foot, wooden stage. During June and July, the park hosts “Sundays at Scioto,” featuring musical acts from 7-8:30 p.m. at the amphitheater.

Our family of four stopped by the roadside attraction at 7377 Riverside Drive on a whim to let the kids play at the playground and to explore the statue, which you can climb atop for intriguing family photos. The outing ended up being a delightful, impromptu adventure that also included skipping stones into the Scioto and climbing an easily scalable tree.

The highlight, however, remains the monument and its mystic lore. Situated on a sloping lawn, the statue stares westward – the setting sun illuminating its white stone. Legend has it that Leatherlips, who was a friend to the early white settlers, wouldn’t follow his tribe as they headed northward in 1810, so they gave him an ultimatum: Either he’d join them or face certain death.

Leatherlips knelt down beside his own grave, looked toward the sun and took a tomahawk to the forehead.

These days, it’s popular around central Ohio to blame Leatherlips for the inclement weather that typically accompanies the Memorial golf tournament held in the spring at nearby Muirfield Village. I don’t know about curses, but we found Leatherlips and his cozy park to be a real charmer.

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