Four separate glaciers covered the Buck Creek area in the past. The first was the Nebraskan glacier, followed by the Kansan glacier, then the Illinoian glacier, and finally the Wisconsinan glacier. These glaciers covered the western and northwestern 2/3 of Ohio from 2 million years ago to 14,000 years ago during the Pleistocene Epoch. As the glaciers moved south and retreated over time, they shaped the landscape we see today. They also moved rocks and debris with them and deposited them in the area. This is why the Springfield area is ripe with gravel pits. The glaciers also moved soil and covered up previous glacial deposits to create a natural aquifer. The natural aquifer is one of the reasons Springfield has one of the best water supplies in the country.
Evidence of Ohio’s first inhabitants, within the confines of Buck Creek State Park, is sketchy. Native Americans were in the area during the archaic period. Known as the Glacial Kame Culture, they sought out large, natural mounds of earth, called "glacial kames" because they formed along glaciers, in which to bury their honored dead. On such mound was on the William Ervin farm on Buck Creek Lane. While removing gravel from a mound of gravel on the farm, a burial site was discovered in 1954. Local archaeologists excavated the site and recovered several artifacts, including a black obsidian spear point. They also found evidence of several burial areas in the gravel pit and estimated that there were as many as 60 burials. Due to the nature of removing gravel, very few artifacts survived after the discovery. The Adena culture is credited with the Enon Mound, which is located in western Clark County and the Miamisburg Mound in Eastern Montgomery County. While there is no direct evidence of the Glacial Kame, Hopewell or Adena cultures living in the confines of Buck Creek State Park, it is logical to believe that they traversed, hunted and gathered food in the area.
Around 1760, the Shawnee moved into the area. They had been driven west by the Iroquois Confederation and European settlers. They established two large settlements in the area - Chillicothe, near present day Oldtown, Ohio and Piqua at the confluence of Buck Creek and Mad River.
The Wyandot Indians named Buck Creek “Ough Ohonda” meaning Buck’s Horn because the path of the river resembled a buck’s antlers. They lived in the area unmolested for about 18 years. The Shawnee roamed all of southwestern Ohio and up as far north as current day Piqua, Ohio. The Shawnee also were known to travel to Kentucky to raid settlers and steal horses. In 1778 or 1779, Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton led a band of Kentuckians on a raid of Chillicothe to recover horses and burn down the village. The raid was successful and most of the Shawnee moved to Piqua. In the next several years, the Shawnee and settlers continued to have small skirmishes. In 1782, Gorge Rogers Clark led the American army in a battle against the Shawnee at Piqua. Here the army defeated the Shawnee and destroyed the village at the confluence of Buck Creek and Mad River. Afterwards the Shawnee moved their village to what is now Piqua, Ohio.
With the majority of the Shawnee now to the north, settlers started to move into present day Springfield. Simon Kenton moved into the area in around 1801. He built a house along the Buck Creek, which he called Lagonda Creek after the Wyandot name “Ough Ohonda”. He also built a mill on the creek; it was located close to where International Harvester plant was located, this approximately one mile below the dam at C. J. Brown Reservoir.
One of the other early settlers was David Crabill. He came to the Springfield area in 1808. In 1813, he purchased 170 acres that currently comprise the south and west portions of Buck Creek State Park. His house was restored by the Clark County Historical Society and remains a tourist attraction today. The David Crabill House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Settlers to the area quickly discovered that Buck Creek has sufficient water flow and elevation drop to power mills. By 1820, well over 20 mills were operating off the power of Buck Creek. The invention of the horizontal hydraulic turbine by James Leffel and the water of Buck Creek and the Mad River helped make Springfield one of the industrial powers of the mid and late 1800’s.
In 1959 and 1962, Springfield experienced unusually high flooding. This caused the International Harvester plant to flood as well as a portion of Wright Patterson Air Force Base. This caused delays in getting I-H equipment to Viet Nam. In 1962, the 87th Congress passed Public Law 87-874, which authorized the building of the then called Buck Creek Reservoir. They also passed Public Law 87-88, which included the Buck Creek Reservoir in the Water Quality Control Act.
Construction work started on September 15, 1966. The estimated cost for the project was $7,930,000. The final cost according to the Corps of Engineers final environmental impact study was $21,800,000.
Work began clearing the land and removing and moving roads in the project area. In 1973, the dam was mostly completed and the Corps began filling the reservoir. A temporary boat ramp on the south side of the lake (by the overflow spillway), opened in 1974. The project was officially dedicated on September 15, 1974. By that time, Congress decided to honor the late Clarence J. Brown, Sr. and name the reservoir in his memory. Buck Creek State Park opened for general recreational purposes in May 1975.