The unusual name, Side Cut, is derived from the former "side cut" extension of the Miami and Erie Canals that connected the main line of the canal with the city of Maumee. Three of the six original locks from the canal system were preserved by WPA workers during the Depression. The WPA workers also built a number of shelters in the park.
Infused with tradition and history, Side Cut is one of a series of riverfront parks. The flat rocks that extend into the river between Maumee and Waterville are known as the Maumee River Ledges, a rare form of a little-known habitat called an alvar, found in only a handful of places on the Great Lakes.