Growing up on a farm has its advantages and disadvantages,
but growing up on a farm with a waterway flowing through it is nothing but pure
This waterway has a name, Ulao Creek. This little known creek
was like a blood vein flowing through our farm for obvious reasons, but for my
siblings, friends, and me, it was the source of hours of recreation.
Before Playstation®, cable TV, satellite dishes, and
other modern conveniences, this small, free flowing, spring fed creek offered a
new adventure at every turn. When the creek flowed naturally, we knew where we
could run to take a quick dip, in between loads of hay, or to wash off the itchy
chaff of truckloads of oats we unloaded. On the warm spring days, we could sail
our “mighty ships” made of old cedar posts and scrap wood, down the creek to a
place called Ghost Town. If Mrs. Manage felt sorry for the half drowned urchins
that knocked on her back door, we could all share a nickel candy bar.
To sit on the railroad bridge and watch the large northern
pike come up to spawn was something we didn’t understand, but it sure was fun
trying to catch them any way that we could. On the neighbor’s farm to the north,
where the springs bubbled, we could go and pick all of the watercress mom could
use, and also bring home a bouquet of wild flowers that would make her eyes
Those were just a few of the things that this little creek
once could do. We took it all for granted. We thought it would never end. As the
town grew and as we grew, this stream became a casualty of apathy, abuse, and
In 1968, I-43 needed to be constructed and so the swimming
holes were paved over, replaced by a ditch and concrete culverts. With the
village growing, old farms were sold and pavement was poured. Suddenly, due to
runoff, the little creek would change from raging litter-strewn flood to dried
up cracked ground, and then back again to raging flood waters. Farmland that
once produced major crops could no longer be counted on to produce consistently.
The habitat for nesting waterfowl and spawning fish could no longer be sustained
due to the large fluctuation in water levels.