Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park is a state park in the Hocking Hills region of Hocking County, Ohio, United States. In some areas the park adjoins the Hocking State Forest. Within the park are over 25 miles (40 km) of hiking trails, rock formations, waterfalls, and recess caves. The trails are open from dawn to dusk, all year round, including holidays.

The park contains seven separate hiking areas: Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, Conkle's Hollow (nature preserve), Old Man's Cave, Rock House and Hemlock Bridge Trail to Whispering Cave.

The name Hocking Hills

Hocking County was named after the Hockhocking River. Hockhocking, in the Delaware tongue, signifies a bottle.[1] In Shawnee, Wea-tha-Kagh-Qua-sepe, meant bottle river. The Hockhocking River had a waterfall of nearly 20 feet located about 6 or 7 miles northwest of Lancaster. Above the falls, the creek was very narrow and straight, forming the "bottle" neck.

The Hockhocking enters the county from Good Hope Township in the northwest and then flows southwest, touches Marion Township, continues through Falls and Green Townships, and exits the county through northwestern Starr Township. The river is then in Athens County.[2]

 Old Man's Cave
Devil's Bathtub

History of the Park

More than 330 million years ago, the area was relatively level and covered by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. For millions of years, the ocean's currents deposited immense amounts of sand and gravel. After millions of years, the ocean receded, and the sandy layers bonded with silica to form the Black Hand Sandstone that underlies the area. It formed like a sandwich, with a hard top and bottom and a soft middle layer. When the Appalachian Mountains arose, form and feature were cast upon the area and created the Hocking Hills.

Hocking Hills were hemmed in by the ancient north-flowing Teays River to the west, and the then north-flowing Hocking to the east. The landscape remained fairly static for millions of years. Any changes were minuscule, and were slow to develop. When the Wisconsin Glacier began melting back to the north about 10,000 years ago, the landscape would undergo dramatic changes. The glacier stopped in northern Hocking County, so the area suffered indescribable flooding. The ancient Teays River was buried under tons of glacial silt, and the direction of the Hocking River was reversed.

When the glacial torrents found cracks in the hard capstone, the water poured through to flush out the soft middle layer. This left long tunnels where the gorges are today. Eventually, the weight of the tops caused them to come crashing down. The "slump rocks" in the gorges today are what's left of the hard top layer. In just a few centuries, the rushing waters of the glacier carved the soft middle layer of sandstone into the myriad dimples and wrinkles that decorate the cliffs and grottos today.

Early settlers in Muskingum County found an ancient black human handprint on a cliff that is part of this same sandstone formation. That is the same "Black Hand Sandstone" that is seen in six areas of the Hocking Hills State Park.

The Adena culture is believed to be one of the first inhabitants of the area of Hocking Hills. In the 18th century, the Native American Tribes of Delaware, Wyandot, and Shawnee travelled through and lived in the area. In 1818, Hocking County was created in Ohio. A powder mill was built in the area in the 1830s and in 1840 Hocking Canal was completed, allowing for more settlers to travel there. After local popular hiking areas were threatened by the accessibility of more traffic, the State Forest Law was passed in 1915 allowing the state to purchase the first parcel of land in Hocking Hills around Old Man's Cave.[3]

Hocking Honor Camp Reforestation

Hocking Hills' iconic and unusual hemlock forest of Hocking Hills was extensively established by the Civilian Conservation Corp and Division of Forestry in the 1930s. Additional planting and reforestry work took place during the 1950s by "prisoners from the Hocking Honor Camp." Inmates "worked on tree planting, cleaning plantations and pruning more established plantations. The prisoners earned five cents per hour for their labor if they had dependents, otherwise they earned half a cent per hour for their hard work."[4] This unique model of using inmates to provide social good is striking. According to the Logan Daily News, Hocking Honor inmates "worked closely with the Hocking County area and the community, an idea that seems absurd today"[5]

^ Walker, Charles Manning (1869). History of Athens County, Ohio: And, Incidentally, of the Ohio Land Company and the First Settlement of the State at Marietta, with Personal and Biographical Sketches of the Early Settlers, Narratives of Pioneer Adventures, Etc, Volume 3. Robert Clarke & Company. p. 17. ISBN 9780608396323. ^ "Hocking County History". 1800hocking.com. Archived from the original on May 30, 2012. Retrieved June 23, 2012. ^ Hansen, Michael C. (1975). Geology of the Hocking Hills State Park Region (PDF). Division of Geological Survey. p. 3. ^ Dept of Natural Resources, Ohio (April 21, 2021). "Hocking State Forest" (PDF). ^ Gray, Leslie. "Honor camp remembered". Logan Daily News. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
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