Investigating recent archaeological discovery
By Eric C. Olson
I had the pleasant opportunity to go on a hike in around some ledges in the park. The opportunity presented itself because of the keen eye of Dr. Metin Eren at Kent State University, who just a couple of weeks ago noticed some artifacts near what he believed might be a rock shelter. The Lake Erie watershed is full of deeply dissected river valleys that have exposes miles of bedrock, usually sandstones and shales. These areas, known as ledges, are unique because there is a specific layer of sandstone with quartz concretions, or inclusions, known as Sharon Conglomerate. I was able to re-locate the site Dr. Eren discovered, and experience the ledges for the first time in this part of the park.
It just so happened that this was the date of the solar eclipse. Before I ventured deep into the woods, a nice couple loaned me their glasses to see the eclipse. The sun was roughly 80% blocked by the moon while I was hiking, and it provided for a unique experience. It was one of the quietest times I had ever been in the park. Perhaps this was in part because of the eclipse’s effect on the wildlife, or perhaps the ledges absorbed some of the white noise typical of Cuyahoga Valley. It could be that most normal visitors were elsewhere that had better views of the eclipse. In any case, I was able to have the entire trail to myself, which is a rarity in Cuyahoga Valley. I also snapped a few photos of myself just to see what it looked like in the dimmed light of the eclipse.
This particular part of the park is not well understood prehistorically, as very few sites have been reported. However, prehistoric American Indian populations likely utilized these ledges for short camp sites, or possibly even sacred rituals, based on rock shelters investigated and reported in the area.