Ohio Caverns

Natural Regions

The Allegheny Plateau covers the entire eastern part of Ohio and extends into West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It is a hilly area with an altitude varying from 900 to 1,400 feet (270 to 425 meters). This region contains the largest of the state forests and Ohio's richest deposits of coal, clay, and stone. The most rugged section lies in the southeast, which was not leveled off by ice sheets. It was relatively undeveloped until coal mining began here in about 1833.

The Interior Plains that cover western Ohio are part of the great prairies of the central United States. This is the eastern end of the fertile North-Central corn belt. Among these gently rolling plains is the highest point in the state--1,550-foot (472-meter) Campbell Hill, east of Bellefontaine in Logan County. The lowest point, 433 feet (132 meters), is also in the Interior Plains region, along the Ohio River in the southwestern corner of the state.

The Lake Plains follow the southern shore of Lake Erie and then curve northward into Michigan. In the east these plains extend inland from 5 to 10 miles (8 to 16 kilometers). About midway across the state they begin to widen, reaching a depth of more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) at the western border of the state. The Lake Plains form the "water level" route across northern Ohio for railroads and highways.

A series of small hills rises in the northeastern corner of Ohio and weaves irregularly west and south to Mercer County midway along the Ohio-Indiana border. This low ridge line divides the state into two drainage basins. The larger, southern area, which occupies about two thirds of the state, is drained by tributaries of the Ohio River. From east to west the largest of these rivers are the Muskingum, Hocking, Scioto, Little Miami, and Great Miami.

   North of the divide, Lake Erie receives the waters of several large rivers. From east to west they are the Grand, Cuyahoga, Sandusky, and Maumee. The largest lake entirely within the state is the artificial Grand Reservoir, in Mercer and Auglaize counties, which was created in 1845 by damming the Wabash River. Designed to feed water into the old Miami and Erie Canal, it is now known as Lake St. Marys and is primarily used for fishing and duck hunting.


Serpent Mound

    New radiocarbon dates suggest that Serpent Mound, a one-quarter-mile-long earthen effigy of a snake in south-central Ohio, was built as many as 2,000 years later than previously thought. The effigy had been attributed to the Adena culture (1000-100 B.C.) based on the presence of Adena burials nearby. The Adena people, who lived in an area stretching from the Midwest to the Atlantic coast, collected and began domesticating plants, improved methods of food storage, and buried their dead in mounds. Two samples of wood charcoal were obtained from undisturbed parts of Serpent Mound. Both yielded a date of ca. A.D.1070, suggesting that the effigy was actually built by people of the Fort Ancient culture (A.D. 900-1600), a Mississippian group that lived in the central Ohio Valley. Mississippian people inhabited the Tennessee, Cumberland, and Mississippi river valleys, built huge earthworks, cultivated maize, and were governed by powerful chiefs, ruling families, or both. The Mississippian's centralized authority would have made possible organizing a large building project such as the construction of Serpent Mound. Additional evidence for the later date includes the remains of a Fort Ancient village 100 yards south of the mound and rattlesnake motifs on Mississippian gorgets (ornaments worn on the chest) made from marine shell.

Read more:  http://www.he.net/~archaeol/9611/newsbriefs/serpentmound.html



People of Ohio

The prehistoric residents of the region were Mound Builders, and examples of their rich cultures are displayed in Ohio museums today. At a later date the Erie Indians occupied the southern shore of the lake. By 1656 they had been nearly annihilated by the Iroquois Confederacy of Five Nations.

   During the 1700s French and English explorers found many Native American tribes in the area. The Miami lived in western Ohio; Shawnee in the south; Ottawa in the northwest; Iroquoian tribes such as the Wyandot (Huron) in the center and northeast; and Delaware in the Muskingum Valley. Famous Indian leaders in this area included Tecumseh (a Shawnee), Little Turtle (a Miami), and Leatherlip (a Wyandot).

   Frontier fighting between whites and Indians ended in 1794 when Gen. "Mad Anthony" Wayne broke the power of the British-Indian alliance in the battle of Fallen Timbers in northwestern Ohio. Gradually the Indians were forced off their land, tribe by tribe, until the last tribal lands in Ohio were ceded by the Wyandot in 1842.

   The first pioneers to cross the Alleghenies into Ohio came from states in the East--from New England to Georgia. Many of them were veterans of the American Revolution who had received land grants from the government. In the mid-1800s many Irish, Germans, and Swiss settled in Ohio. Later the growth of industry attracted laborers from Scandinavia and Central and Southern Europe. By 1900 about half the people lived in cities and towns. Today about three fourths of Ohio's people reside in urban areas.

   The state has more than 300,000 people of foreign birth. Of the total number of foreign-born people and those with foreign-born parents, the largest groups are Germans, Italians, Poles, English, and Czechs. About 10 percent of Ohio's people are African Americans.



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