Rock Run’s Cultural History

 

Sandstone Mining at Rock Run. As early as 1814, large blue-gray sandstone was mined from the Rock Run Region. The sandstone bed was usually under 16 inches in height, and lay between thin beds of shale. It was easily split and wedged off in large regular blocks, and then loaded on Ohio River barges and shipped downstream to Cincinnati. The city referred to it as City Ledge and it was considered by many to be the best quality sandstone in the entire Eastern United States.

Like most of the hills in western Scioto and eastern Adams Counties, the steep slopes of Rock Run had an exposed layer of City Ledge half way up its flanks. And, just like elsewhere, stonecutters drove their horse and oxen up the creek-bed of Rock Run, and then cut roads up the nearly vertical slopes to get to the stone. They cut the City Ledge into the hill as far as they could before the overburden of the higher bedrocks impeded further progress, then dragged the quarried stone down the dirt roadway, over the streambed, and eventually to barges waiting on the Ohio River.

Transition to Timber. By 1907 the stone business along the lower Scioto came to an end, replaced by the cement and brick industries, the latter needing steady supplies of clay. By 1920 the shale beds which formed the base of Rock Run, as well as a considerable fraction of the valley’s exposed bedrock, became a potentially lucrative source of clay, and the rights to the shale were sold to a private company. This time, the mining never happened. The trees, however, were cut several times over the 20th century, most recently in the late 1990’s.

The Arc of Appalachia purchased the first 184 acres of what is now the Rock Run Preserve in 2004. The area is now well on its way to returning to mature forest, with few invasive species.

Slabs of sandstone found at Rock Run. Photo by John Srofe.
Mining of City Ledge