The answer came to me in a manner very similar to many of best photographs - unexpected and unplanned. It was May of 2003 when I decided that rather in staying in a chain hotel in Chillicothe - which was still a good 45 minutes away from the Park - that I noticed the sign for The Inn at Cedar Falls, off to the left side of the two-lane hilly road that connects Cedar Falls to Old Man's Cave. From that vantage point one could usually only notice the 1800's era cabin that served as the Inn's kitchen and restaurant, and the other small building that was the office and gift shop. Across the road was the gravel parking lot. But I would soon learn that there was much more to The Inn at Cedar Falls.
In our modern, consumer-driven society of mass marketing and branding of just about everything, how refreshing it is to come to know a place of traveling accommodations that is original and faithful to the land on which it sits. The Inn at Cedar Falls fits seamlessly into the landscape of Hocking Hills. It would be a shame to merely refer to it as a business. It's an outgrowth of a love and passion for what makes Hocking Hills so unique, encapsulating the nature of the land in every room, cottage and cabin that are spread out over the hilltop and woodlands that's part of the Inn property - land that once was an 1800's farm and homestead. In fact the original log cabin is still present. It's now the Inn's kitchen and main dinning room. When I walk in and hear the old wood planks creek and moan it's as if echoes of distant memories are suddenly released to the air before settling back again in the soul of the old building.
"Its a sacred place," the Inn's owner Ellen Grinsfelder is fond of saying. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to stay there knows why such a statement is made. The Inn at Cedar Falls is the artist's retreat with the creative refuge that is Hocking Hills. It is a place that I discovered at that perfect time in my life and career as a photographer, becoming the fertile ground from which I would extend my photographic work beyond what I could have foreseen when I walked in and asked if there were any available rooms on that bright spring day in May 2003.