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Geology of Dayton and Vicinity



    For many years Prof. Wm. B. Werthner and the writer of the following pages have found pleasure in roaming over the gravel ridge south of Dayton, studying its geological history and becoming acquainted with its plant and bird life.  Many changes have taken place within this time.

    In 1877 there was a swamp directly north of the present Schantz plat, northeast of Oakwood, full of fringed gentians, the scarlet lobelia, the shooting star, and a host of other flowers, forming a botanical garden unrivaled in the number and variety of the forms growing within such a narrow area.  The blue-eyed Mary and Virginia cowslip flourished in the dense thickets along the Bluffs.  The long-spurred violet grew on the northern slopes of the Adirondack ridge in the Hills and Dales area, and in early March the skunk cabbage was found in the marsh at the southern end of the Country Club golf ground.

    At that time the walls of the mound-builders’ fort in the Calvary cemetery could be followed with ease.  The moung at the northern end of the fort had been opened and we heard of the find of a few “Indian relics.”  East of Alexandersville there was an old farmer, a Mr. Binckley, who was a source of great delight to the boys.  He had a most wonderful collection of “Indian relics” and was happy in showing them to all who were interested.  He knew where all his relics came from and he told us why the mound-builders must have been quite a different race from the Indians who inhabited this part of Ohio when the first white men arrived.  He owned part of the geometrical earthwork located at Alexandersville and persuaded his neighbors who owned the rest to assist him in keeping all of it in good condition.

   At that time the various ridges characterizing the area west of the Cincinnati pike could be traced through the cemetery ground as far as the [p.] Bluffs overlooking the canal, and the cemetery had made very little change in the general appearance of the land.  Practically no regrading had been done.  Each year a sugar camp was started in early spring in the hollow west of the Chapel ridge at the western end of the Nollman farm.

   In 1893 Prof. Werthner and the writer began the photographing of the details of the topography shown by the gravel ridges, and two years later a large number of stereopticon slides were prepared in order to interest our pupils and the general public in the glacial history of this territory. A part of these views, taken so long ago by Prof. Werthner, are included among those used for the present publication.

   We always hoped that some day this great gravel ridge area might become a public park, but never dreamed of the present park system, including the Hills and Dales and the Moraine Park, by means of which a large part of the territory has been thrown open to the public through the private generosity of Mr. John H. Patterson and Mr. E. A. Deeds.  Our happiness would be made complete if only it were possible to save, without further mutilation, the Pike and Chapel ridges west of the Cincinnati pike, which are unrivaled for height, steepness and length in any part of the United States.

   It is with pleasure that we have renewed our more detailed studies of the gravel ridge are during the last tow or three years.  The results are expressed on the following pages.  Here the writer has attempted to bring together all of the material likely to be of interest to the local investigator of geologic problems.  Here are given the answers to all the numerous questions which others have put to us frequently during our work as teachers in Dayton.  Special care has been exerted to give, wherever possible, the line of reasoning which has given rise to the conclusions drawn from the observations made.  There is no pretense of originality or of finality in these statements.  All geological work is accumulative.  Each observer is likely to bring with him a new point of view and hence to contribute differences in solution of the problems investigated.  All that is hoped is to give a little impetus toward interesting others in the geological history of our surroundings and to give a little assistance to those who already have their interest aroused [p.]

   Others have worked over the same ground.  The large monograph by Frank Leverett, on the Glacial Formations and Drainage Features of the Erie and Ohio Basins, published by the United States Geological Survey, is an authentic discussion of a much wider territory, from which the present writer has drawn freely.  Glaciation in Ohio was discussed by Prof. Frank Carney in 1910, in the Bulletin of Denison University.  The much shorter article by Earl R. Scheffel on An Esker Group South of Dayton, Ohio, published in this Bulletin in 1908, covers the same territory as the present publication, and presents in few words all the chief characteristics of the gravel ridge area.  In 1905, the same writer explained the Origin of the Spring Valley Gorge.  The History of the Little Miami River was presented by Prof. J. A. Bownocker, in a paper printed by the Ohio Academy of Science in 1900.  For a general discussion of glacial phenomena, without reference to any particular locality, the great American textbook on Geology by Chamberlin and Salisbury, in the Public library, will be found most instructive.  All that is attempted in the present publication is to unite within one cover as many as possible of the points of local interest and to show their local application.

   The territory selected for special discussion includes all of the gravel ridge area south of Dayton, extending from Oakwood, Carrmonte and the Calvary cemetery southward through Hills and Dales, and the Moraine Park grounds to the southern end of the ridge area at Hole’s creek.  This is one of the most interesting areas of glacial stream action in the United States and as such is of particular interest to those who live in its vicinity.

   This volume was begun in response to the request of Mr. E. A. Deeds that a few pages of printed matter be produced, describing the chief points of geologic interest in Moraine Park, his beautiful estate among the hills of the city.  Soon, however, it was found desirable to include also illustrations from Hills and Dales, and from the gravel ridge area south of the Calvary cemetery, and so the few pages grew into a pamphlet.  Through the generosity of Mr. Deeds, numerous photographs were added, a map of the gravel ridge area was prepared and investigations were extended to other points beyond the limits of the gravel ridge area, until the pamphlet grew into the present volume [p.].

   Finally, Mr. Deeds assumed the entire expense of publication.  Thus it became possible to produce a richly illustrated volume which, although centering its interest in the immediately surrounding territory, extends its interest beyond these limits and includes a partial discussion of a much more extended territory.

   December 1, 1915 [p.].

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