Along for the Ride

Some glacial erratics (boulders) handing out at Rock Mill Park.

Some glacial erratics (boulders) hanging out at Rock Mill Park.

I am sure you have seen them as you drive the roadways of Fairfield County. Sometimes they are in front yards, along road ditches, innocently poised next to a pond, or you might even see a large number of them accumulating on the side of a field.

Do you know what I speak of?


Yes, those boulders that are used in landscaping, as driveway markers, or as rock piles accumulating as farmers remove them from their fields. These non-native boulders are intriguing indicators of past glacial activity. In geology they are referred to as glacial erratics, rock fragments carried some distance from its source by a glacier usually deposited on materials of a different composition.

Erratics were fragmented from their source bedrock in Canada, hundreds of miles away, and transported in a massive glacier (or glaciers) to places like our front yards, farm fields, and even to the top of a hill. Erratics can be colorful, can be composed of feldspar and quartz, and can appear quite different form the sandstone bedrock found in Mount Blog Poem3Pleasant or in the cliffs around the Hocking River by Rock Mill Park. Many of the erratics found around homes or ponds were likely uncovered during the excavation of a foundation or pond and were simply incorporated into the landscape to spare the effort and cost of removal.

So, whenever you’re out riding around in Fairfield County and you see a boulder just hanging out along the road, in a fence row, or in someone’s yard consider that it, too, is just out for a jaunt far from home waiting for that next massive glacier to move it a little further down the line.

–Dan Mole, Program and Volunteer Specialist

Discover Fairfield County’s glacial history with our guided program, Glacial Features of Fairfield County, Saturday, March 14.

Just Milling Around: Getting to Know Your Home Town

Rock Mill Winter 2015January has arrived and that means there are officially 10 more weeks of winter still ahead of us. With the end of the holiday season, winter seems to drag on. Between the shoveling of snow and the packing away of holiday decorations, the winter doldrums can seem to stretch on forever.

However, winter can be the perfect time to turn inward. During these winter months I catch up on the movies I somehow missed, I read more books than the other 9 months combined, and I spend a good deal of time sorting, archiving and researching everything from family history to dealing with all that stuff I brought home over the past year.

Here at the Historical Parks this season is no time for boredom either. With the arrival of 2015 we welcome programing to the Fairfield County Historical Parks events calendar. I am busy planning, researching and reading in preparation for programing in the warmer seasons ahead. Although I have not grown up in Fairfield County or even Southeast Ohio (I’m a native of Lorain County, Ohio), I have to admire the rich history that exists here. I have always enjoyed history, and as I began looking into Fairfield County’s local history I quickly came across a number of history books that deliver a wonderful overview of the last 200-plus years of Fairfield County.

Fairfield Countly Local History BooksAs I read through these books, I do so with a county map spread out beside me and access to a computer nearby. There’s a lot of information to be processed and I’ve come to see this as a treasure hunt. In fact, I could do this same activity for my hometown in Lorain County, and it’s an adventure I invite you to join me in pursuing.

After all, winter is the perfect time to get reacquainted with the places we call home. Consider checking out these books from your local library. Then again these titles could be as close as coffee table or bookshelf in the very house you call home.

These local history books offer great understanding and knowledge for the program planning I’m involving myself with this wintery season. They might save you from milling about with that obnoxious boredom and give you some more “grist” for your mill.

Titles pictured above:
Covered Bridges of Fairfield County, Ohio by John W. Klages
Crossroads and Fence Corners, Volumes I and II by Charles R. Goslin
Fifty-Six Miles Into the Hills by David A. Meyer
Lancaster, Ohio 1800-2000 by David R. Contosta
A Complete History of Fairfield County, Ohio by Harvey Scott
Fairfield County Remembered by Herbert M. Turner

–Dan Mole, Program and Volunteer Specialist

Join Us for the Smeck Farm Harvest Fair

We’re please to announce our newest community event: the Smeck Farm Harvest Fair. Mark your calendars for Sunday, September 7, as we celebrate our agricultural, natural and cultural heritage.

The Fairfield County Antique Tractor Club will be exhibiting and demonstrating historic farming equipment and processes throughout the day. Visitors will be able to take in historical demonstrations on blacksmithing, milling, lathing, spinning and basket weaving, as well as kid-friendly activities provided by the Wahkeena Nature Preserve and the Friends of Ohio Barns. The park will also host William McKinley Camp 21 Sons of Union Veterans, who will be firing the Sherman cannon at 12:00pm, 2:00pm and 4:00pm. The Fairfield Herb Society, Fairfield County Soil and Water Conservation District, National Wildlife Federation’s Backyard Habitat and Green Machine Gardens will be on hand with gardening and nature exhibits. Second Wind Bluegrass Band will be providing music with concessions supplied by Bob’s Brats and Burgers.

Looking forward to seeing you on the farm this September!

Smeck Farm Harvest Fair

Skull Identification Workshop at Wahkeena

Skull sleuth

Calling all skull sleuths! Join the naturalists at the Wahkeena Nature Preserve for an interactive educational workshop on identifying the skulls of Ohio’s vertebrates, including a few extinct Ice Age species. This interactive workshop will include:

  • Tips on how to identify and interpret different skills
  • Hands-on practice session identifying skulls using dental charts
  • Field session to put your knowledge to the test by seeking out specimens for identification

This program is ideal for participants aged 17 and up and is free and open to the public; however, reservations are required by calling the nature preserve at (800) 297-1883.


Johnston Covered Bridge Gets New Roof


Johnston Covered Bridge with new roof

The early bridges that spanned the rivers, streams and creeks of Ohio were covered to protect the wooden joints and extend the life of the bridge. In other words, to keep a covered bridge healthy, you need sturdy roof. Happily, the Johnston Covered Bridge at Two Glaciers Park will continue to be a scenic destination in Fairfield County thanks in part to its new roof. This roof is made out of steel sheeting that is coated in an aluminum-zinc alloy that we expect to last 75 years or more. The Johnston bridge has worn a few different rooftops since it was built in 1887; some were metal and some were wooden, but all have kept the bridge dutifully spanning Clear Creek for 127 years. We hope our efforts here ensure this bridge remains treasured place in our county for generations to come.

Get to Know Ohio’s Ferns

There are over 30 different types of ferns at Wahkeena Nature Preserve. Meet them all at Wahkeena Nature Preserve’s upcoming guided nature hikes focusing specifically on ferns. They are often-overlooked inhabitants of the forest, but they are an ancient species, having evolved before seed-producing plants. Take a leisurely stroll with one of Wahkeena’s experienced naturalists and learn how to identify different types of ferns and other topics of natural history.

What: Focus on Ferns Nature Hike
Where: Wahkeena Nature Preserve
When: June 1 and 22 and July 13, 1:00pm

Free Program on Ohio’s Dragonflies and Damselflies

We’re welcoming Bob Glotzhober, Curator Emeritus of the Ohio History Connection, to the Wahkeena Nature Preserve for an in-depth exploration on Ohio’s Odonates, more commonly known as dragonflies and damselflies. Whether you’re an amateur naturalist or Odonate expert, you’ll want to attend this session on these fascinating aquatic insects. This educational program runs from 10:00am-3:00pm, so bring a sack lunch and dress for the weather.

What: Ohio’s Dragons & Damsels
Where: Wahkeena Nature Preserve
When: July 12, 10:00am-3:00pm
Note: This program is free, but reservations are required. Call the Wahkeena Nature Preserve at 1-800-297-1883 to reserve your spot.

Free Family Kite-Flying Event at Smeck Historical Park

LANCASTER, OHIO, April 21, 2014—The Fairfield County Historical Parks is getting ready to launch its second annual kite flying event on May 3, 2014, at Smeck Historical Farm, 7395 Basil Road, Baltimore, Ohio. The Smeck Farm Kite Fly-Out will run from 11:00am-4:00pm. Families are encouraged to bring kites to fly (string maximum is 50 feet), and children will be able to make their own at a kite-making station. Local DJ Mike O’Riley will be playing family-friendly music for all participants. Other activities will include:

  • Naturalist-led nature hikes. Visitors will be able to take a leisurely stroll through the park’s trails and explore the beauty of the area’s wildlife with an experienced naturalist.
  • Educational exhibits focusing on flight. Wahkeena Nature Preserve will offer ongoing presentations and educational activities on bird flight and migration.
  • Kid-friendly activities. Additional activities will include a disc golf station sponsored by the Lancaster Disc Golf Alliance, blacksmithing demonstrations from Doug Lockhart and the Makers of Hand-Forged Iron, historical games sponsored by the Ohio Glass Museum, and a craft station hosted by Fairfield County Recycling and Litter Prevention.
  • Food from Buzz Inn—Buzz Out and Bob’s Brats and Burgers will also be available.
    This event is free and open to the public. On-site parking is available. For additional information, contact the Historical Park’s office at 740-681-7249 or at

For additional information, contact Kelly Messerly

Phone: 740-681-7249


Wahkeena Nature Preserve Offers Free Educational Programs on Birding

SUGAR GROVE, OHIO March 27, 2014—With spring officially in the air, thousands of migratory birds will be taking flight and passing through Central Ohio. Thousands more will be busy pursuing a mate. For the staff at the Wahkeena Nature Preserve, this can only mean one thing: it’s birding season. Thanks to its rich and diverse landscape, over 100 different species of birds call the Wahkeena Nature Preserve home, or at least a key resting place on their way to points further north.

As part of their 2014 programming season, Wahkeena’s naturalists will offer four birding programs that aim to both help beginners get started and allow experienced birders to practice their skills with local experts. “Birding is a great year-round activity that can be done anywhere, from your armchair looking out of your window to traveling the world to see different species,” notes Robyn Wright-Strauss, assistant naturalist. “You don’t really need a lot of specialized equipment, either. While it’s nice to have binoculars or a field guide to help identify birds, even these items aren’t necessary. Just getting outside and observing the birds that cross your path is fun.”

Wahkeena will offer its introduction to birding: Birding for Beginners at 1:00pm on April 5 and April 19. Participants will learn some tips and techniques to focus on when trying to identify a particular bird. The program will also cover how to use binoculars and field guides and participants are encouraged to bring their own to get individualized attention on getting the most out of these tools.

Birders with more experience, as well as those who are new to birding, are welcome to attend the guided Bird Walks taking place at 8:15am on May 3 and May 10, which feature area birding experts. The May 3 Bird Walk will feature Hocking College instructor Bob Scott Placier, while Paul Knoop, retired director of education at the Aullwood Audubon Center, will lead the May 10 Bird Walk.

All birding programs are free and open to the public and will last approximately 90 minutes. Call the Wahkeena Nature Preserve for more information (800) 297-1883 or visit their Web site at

For additional information, contact Kelly Messerly

Phone: (740) 681-7249 ext. 5


Discover Life in a Vernal Pool

sal egg mass blog

Like spring itself, vernal pools are ephemeral but are teaming with life. Discover what creatures depend on these aquatic habitats during Wahkeena Nature Preserve’s upcoming program Life in a Vernal Pool. Learn about the role vernal pools play in the woodland ecosystem while getting your hands a little wet and muddy. If you attended April’s vernal pool program, this is the perfect opportunity to see how life is changing for the pool’s inhabitants.

wood frog eggs blog

What: Life in a Vernal Pool

Where: Wahkeena Nature Preserve,

2200 Pump Station Road, Sugar Grove, Ohio

When: Saturday, May 17, 10:00am-12:00pm