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Geology of Dayton and Vicinity
Chapter One



[Photo: The Miami river seen from the northern end of the fort in Calvary cemetery. This part of the river channel is to be straightened.]





1.  The Charm of Nature


   The charm of trees, underbrush, and wild flowers, the singing of birds and the activity of the insect world, the rippling of the brook, the wavering of autumn foliage and the changes of sunset colors, glimpses of deep valleys and vistas across flat fields to the hills beyond, all these may be enjoyed in any rugged country more or less covered with woodland. The varying aspect of bark and branches of the denuded trees, the shades of brown and yellow of the fallen leaves, scurrying before the wind, the drifts of snow and the pendant icicles, all invite the wayfarer, both under sunny skies and gray, even during the wintry months of the year. Nature is lavish in her display [p.17] and ever varying in her moods, from the first peep of the early white bloodroot from beneath the blackened soil to the last glow of the goldenrod amid the purple asters along the country lane.


2.  Law and Order in Nature


   Amid all this profusion of life and color there is law and order. Nature is organized into groups and societies. The plants of the beech woods are not those of the maple grove.  The open forest and the dense thicket shelter different flowers. The margin of the pond and the deeper waters have different floras. Each of these situations harbors a different insect life and invites a different group of birds and four-footed animals.


3. Hills and Valleys as Records of Geological History


   Nature differs in her forms of hills and valleys. The Hills and Dales that extend south of Dayton, from Carrmonte and Calvary Cemetery to Moraine Park, differ from the hills and valleys near the Soldiers’ Home, or near Huffman hill, or along the Stillwater, or along the Great Miami. Each hill and each valley is a record of the history of that section of the earth of which it forms a part. Wherever the history has been different, the form of hill and valley differs correspondingly.

   This is what lends interest to the study of the topography of a country—of the varying shapes of hills and valleys, of streams and lakes; how they came to exist, and how they came to assume the forms and structures they now possess. A stroll through the woods and down the glen reveals to the eyes of the geologist the history not of wars nor of the deeds of former races of men, but of ages long preceding the advent of man, and of animals long extinct.


4. Introduction to Hills and Dales Topography.  See map inserted at back of book


   As an introduction to the topography which is characteristic of the territory south of Dayton, let us take a Hills and Dales car to the point, about a mile south of Carrmonte, where this car line turns off eastward from the Cincinnati pike. Here the westward extension of the O’Neil road [p.18] crosses a narrow gravel ridge, called the Pike ridge, by means of a deep cut. A short but steep climb from the farther end of the cut is necessary to reach the top of the ridge.


[Photo: View of the Pike ridge, looking northward from a point a short distance north of the O’Neil road. Notice the top of the ridge, too narrow for two wagons to pass.]


    The chief features are in evidence at once. The ridge is remarkable for its height, its narrowness, its comparative straightness, and its length; and, although far above stream level, it has been built up altogether from gravel and sand.

    At the O’Neil road cut, the top of the ridge is 100 feet above the low ground along the Cincinnati pike on the east, and 95 feet above the wet weather pond in the deep hollow on the West, north of the O’Neil road. The area along the top of the ridge usually does not exceed 25 or 30 feet in [p.19] width. The slope on each side is steep, often equaling 30 degrees in the steeper places. If these numbers do not impress you, then judge the steepness of the hill by climbing it, without using the road.

   Such a steep slope is possible only on hillsides built up of solid rock or of coarse gravel. Sand and clay consist of smaller particles and usually give rise to lower gradients. Every builder of railroads knows that finer materials tend to spread out more, laterally, and that every kind of loose material has a maximum slope above which it does not tend to remain at rest. Broken stone will build up steeper slopes than rounded pebbles.

   The ridge here consists of chiefly gravel. This can be seen by looking down into the cut, by means of which we have ascended the ridge, but the same fact might be inferred from the abundance of the pebbles along the crest of the ridge, and also along its sides where the latter are not covered deeply by soil.


5. The Pike Ridge


         The length and straightness of the Pike ridge can be appreciated best by following it northward. North of the O’Neil road, the trend of the ridge is at first northerly. Then it turns slightly east of north until it reaches one of its higher elevations or peaks, beyond which it returns to its former northerly course. Clumps of red haw and wild rose, with their protecting thorns and prickles, are scattered along the crest. Grape and woodbine spread among the lower branches of the trees. Northward, a fence crosses the ridge, and beyond the fence, the ridge descends rapidly, being crossed by a natural depression or gap, beyond which the ridge continues again.

         The Nollman farm lane passes through the gap in a westerly direction. North of the gap there are two ridges, but, of these, the eastern ridge is in more direct alignment with the Pike ridge, which we have been following from the south, and is regarded as an extension of the latter. Northward this eastern ridge becomes distinctly hummocky, but a glance down the valley, between this eastern or Pike ridge and the western or Nollman ridge, will reveal the ridge-like character of the succession of hummocks bordering the western side of the Cincinnati pike.

   The Pike ridge terminates northward at a point east of the home of Mr. Sauerman, opposite the western end of East Woodburn Avenue. [p.20]


   [Photo: The Pike ridge at the O’Neil road cut, looking north. Note the narrowness at the top of the ridge.


   The total length of the Pike ridge, north of the O’Neil cut, is almost a mile, and its direction along this entire length is approximately north and south. About 10 degrees east of north would be a fair average for its general trend.

   Only that part which is between the O’Neil road and the Nollman road is readily accessible, but this is also the most interesting part of the ridge, on account of its conspicuous elevation and narrowness.


  1. The Chapel Ridge


   West of the Pike ridge is an equally steep ridge, extending farther north. It may be reached by following the Nollman lane westward, across [p.21] a shallow part of the intervening Nollman hollow, to the top of the Chapel ridge, at a point southwest of the pond occupying the lowest part of this hollow. This is another ridge remarkable for its height, its narrowness, its comparative straightness, and its length.

   The highest knob, along the Chapel ridge, south of the Nollman road, is 65 feet above the low ground on both sides of the ridge. About a sixth of a mile north of the Nollman lane there is another of the more conspicuous elevations along the crest of the Chapel ridge, which is 70 feet above the Nollman pond, east of the ridge, and 110 feet above the pond in the Sugar Camp hollow, on the western side of the ridge.

   The view from this part of the Chapel ridge is superb. Deep valleys border it on both sides, and vistas of the more distant country, westward, are seen among the trees. It is interesting especially in winter or in early spring, when the leaves have fallen from the trees. For those who like roughing it, snow lends an additional charm. It outlines more clearly the distant hills and gives relief in sunshine and shadow. Along the crest of the ridge the walking usually is fair. Westerly winds drive most of the snow from the path. It clings to the eastern margin of the crest and lies deep on the slopes beneath. The velvet green of the mullein leaf peeps from beneath the snow. Some of the grass is still green, and projecting dry stalks and leaves of last year’s plants relieve the mantle of white from any feeling of monotony.

   About two-fifths of a mile north of the Nollman lane the Chapel ridge is interrupted by a natural wide depression or gap, about 25 feet deep, through which the Sugar Camp lane passes in a southwesterly direction. The lane ends at a pond, dry excepting in wet weather. The old sugar camp lay in the woods north of the pond. Here the sap of the maple was collected formerly in earthenware crocks, and boiled down in large open kettles into maple syrup.

   North of the Sugar Camp lane the crest of the Chapel ridge rises 90 feet above that part of the valley which lies directly westward, and 100 feet above the lowest ground in the valley eastward. A short distance northward the ridge is crossed by a wire fence. So far, the woods along the ridge have been open, and the walking agreeable, with pleasant views on both [p.22] sides of the ridge. North of the wire fence, however, the crest of the ridge is covered with a thicket of red-buds. This is a part well worth visiting in spring, when the red-buds are in full flower. Later in the season they obstruct the view, but a short walk northwestward, down the slope of the ridge, brings us to the lane following the western side of the Chapel ridge northward to the western end of Mayo Avenue.


   [Photo: View of the west side of the northern end of the Chapel ridge, with the buildings at the entrance to Calvary cemetery on the right. Photograph taken about twenty years ago.]


   At the western end of Mayo Avenue, the Chapel ridge formerly was interrupted by another depression or gap, only about 13 feet deep, but a recent cut has increased the depth of this gap to about 25 feet below the level of the immediately adjacent part of the ridge, at the same time giving an excellent exposure of the coarse gravel characterizing the upper part of the material forming the ridge, along almost its entire length.

   North of Mayo Avenue, the Chapel ridge rises strongly until it attains a height of 125 feet above the valley eastward. The valley on its western side is much more shallow, scarcely equalling more than 35 feet in depth.

   At present the Chapel ridge ends abruptly, at the gravel pit southeast of the chapel in Calvary Cemetery. Formerly it extended farther north- [p.23]


   [Photo: View of the southern end of the Sunset ridge, showing the Stroop road, the Moraine farm buildings and a part of Ridgeleigh Terrace.] [p.24]


Ward, to the edge of the bluff’s facing the river, but this part was removed in order to improve the appearance of the approaches to the cemetery grounds.

   This Chapel ridge is over a mile in length. Its course is practically parallel to the Pike ridge. Its crest is equally narrow and its sides are equally steep. Additional narrow north and south trending ridges traverse the territory farther westward.

   Few people know of these remarkably narrow, steep, and straight ridges west of the Cincinnati pike, but they are of especial interest on account of the simplicity of their structure. For long distances, the valleys on both sides of these ridges are uninterrupted by cross ridges, so that the visitor need not be in doubt whether he is following the continuation of the same ridge or not. The topography here consists essentially of long narrow ridges, separated by long and comparatively uninterrupted intermediate valleys.

   At some other localities, the long ridges are connected at irregular intervals by transverse ridges, breaking up the long intermediate valleys into a succession of shorter intermediate hollows, often without any drainage outlet. This modification of the simple ridge and valley structure is well shown on Moraine farm and in the Delco Dell area, a mile south of the O’Neil road.


  1. The Moraine Farm Ridges


   The Moraine farm ridges may be regarded as merely a southward continuation of those which line the western side of the Cincinnati pike, farther northward. South of the O’Neil road cut, the Pike ridge curves southeastward toward the northern part of the long gravel pit, which is exposed southwest of the Power Sub-station, on the western side of the Cincinnati pike. The ridge formerly extended beyond the present location of the Ohio Electric railroad and was connected with the high ridge directly east of the Cincinnati pike, which also is deeply indented at present by a gravel pit, at its northwestern end. A broad, deep, natural depression or gap formerly separated that part of the ridge which is west of the Cincinnati pike from the adjacent part on the east. This gap determined the location of the pike, [p.25]


   [Photo: View across Old Orchard hollow, looking westward. Eastview ridge forms the farther side of the hollow and the hills of the Highlands are seen beyond.] [p.26]


when it was first constructed, many years ago, but the two gravel pits and other changes along the intervening pike have removed all traces of the former natural gap.

   The top of the ridge at the gravel pit east of the pike is 70 feet above the lowland along the pike westward. It is abruptly terminated southward by the small stream traversing the Governor Cox farm, but standing on the top of the ridge and looking directly across the valley of this stream, we face the gravel pit at the north end of the long Eastview ridge. The latter may be traced for nearly four-fifths of a mile, in a southeasterly direction, to the home of Mr. Kettering, on Ridgeleigh Terrace. Along most of this distance this ridge also is remarkable for its height, its narrowness, its comparative straightness, and its length; moreover, it also is composed entirely of gravel and sand, as were the long narrow ridges west of the Cincinnati pike, north of the O’Neil road cut.

   In one respect, however, the ridges south of the O’Neil road cut differ from their northward continuations: they have a different direction. Instead of having an approximately north and south direction, they take a course about 30 degrees east of south.

   Essentially the same direction as the Eastview ridge is shown by the Sunset ridge, which extends from Lookout Point, at the southern edge of the Cox farm, past Big Hill knob and the Summer Camp on Moraine farm to a point west of Ridgeleigh Terrace.

   One of the interesting features of the gravel ridges east of the Cincinnati pike is the frequency with which they attain a height of 70 to 90 feet above the immediately adjacent lowlands, and the rarity with which they exceed an elevation of 100 feet. This provides frequent outlooks from the crest of the ridges eastward across the broad Locust farm valley, and westward over the wide flat country sloping gently toward the Miami river.

   To the student of topography, however, a much more interesting feature connected with these long gravel ridges is the presence of the numerous hollows or dells which they inclose.

   One of these, the Old Orchard hollow, east of the Summer Camp, on the Moraine farm, occupies a considerable part of the space between the Sunset and Eastview ridges, and here the ridges rise 25 to 45 feet above [p.27]


   [Photo: David ridge, looking southward; seen from a point a short distance south of the entrance to the Delco Dell grounds. Sleepy hollow is on the right. A glimpse of the David road is seen on the left.] [p. 28]           


the bottom of the hollow, being connected southwards by the high transverse ridge culminating at Tip Top knob. This knob is 100 feet above the level of the Stroop road at the end of the Delco Dell branch of the Hills and Dales car line. Northward, the Old Orchard hollow is closed by the transverse ridge traversed by the northern end of the Big Hill road. Here the lowest part of the transverse ridge is about 20 feet below the lowest part of the Old Orchard hollow, and a similar low spot is found along the Eastview ridge, where it is followed by the Big Hill road, several hundred yards northwest of its junction with the Deeds road. In other words, the bottom of the Old Orchard hollow lies about 20 feet below the lowest part of the enclosing land. Hence there is no direct drainage outlet, and all rainfall must find an exit by sinking into the ground. Since all of this ridge land is made up of loose gravel and sand, very little water remains in the hollow excepting for a short time after a heavy rain.

   East of the bridle path leading along Sunset ridge from the Summer Camp of Moraine farm to the big bend at the southern end of the Big Hill road, there is another long and narrow hollow, the Sunset hollow, the lowest exits from which, in any direction, lie about 18 feet above the bottom of the hollow. One of these exits is used by the bridle path traversing the hollow in a southeasterly direction. Another low point is found on the Sunset ridge, almost directly opposite the first.

  A third hollow, the lowest exit from which lies only about 8 feet above the bottom, virtually is a northwestern continuation of the Old Orchard hollow, and is separated from the latter by a ridge only 9 feet high at its lowest point. On the eastern side, however, the lowest outlet across the bordering ridge is 13 feet above the bottom of the hollow.


  1. The Delco Dell Ridges


   The southern termination of the two prominent Moraine farm ridges, near the old school house north of the Stroop road, is as abrupt as the break [p.29]


   [Photo: View across Sleepy hollow, in the Delco Dell grounds, looking south. The elevated land dimly seen in the distance is the David ridge on the southeast side of the hollow. Part of the Delco ridge is seen in the immediate foreground, on the right. The open ground in the lower part of the hollow is cultivated land.] [p.30]


North of the stream on the Governor Cox farm. However, the map will indicate that the Delco Dell ridges, notwithstanding this interruption, virtually are direct continuations of the more northern ridges. The Delco Dell grounds include both dells and ridges and are so named on account of being the summer residence of a number of the Delco organization.

   The eastern, or David ridge, continues the southeasterly course of the Moraine farm ridges as far as the main entrance to the Delco Dell grounds, from the side of the David road. From this point the David ridge take a more southerly direction, and soon curves toward the southwest.

     The western, or Delco ridge, takes a southerly course as far as the southern end of the Delco dell or hollow, and then also takes a southwesterly course, finally connecting with the David ridge. The David and Delco ridges also are remarkable for their height, their narrowness, their comparative straightness, and their length. As in the case of the more northern ridges, they are composed almost entirely of gravel and sand.

   Delco Dell is the most northern hollow enclosed by the Delco and David ridges. Its lowest outlet lies along its southern margin, where the transverse ridge, followed by the main road, is 20 feet above the lowest part of the hollow.

  Sleepy hollow, directly south of Delco Dell, and cut off from the latter only by the transverse ridge followed by the main entrance road, evidently is a continuation of the Delco Dell. In length it almost equals the Old Orchard hollow, on the Moraine farm, and it is equally wide, but it is much more impressive on account of its considerable depth, and the greater height and steepness of the ridges enclosing it. The lowest point in the enclosing ridges lies along the Delco ridge, south of the fence at the southern end of the Delco grounds, where the crest of this ridge is 32 feet above the lowest part of the Sleepy hollow. Another low point of exit is found along the Delco ridge, north of the fence, and a third is located on the David ridge, almost directly east of the first, but these second and third low points are fully 50 feet above the bottom of the hollow. The ease with which the water after a heavy rain finds exit from this hollow by sinking into the gravel is indicated by the presence of the cultivated land along the lower part of the hollow, for many years a fertile corn field. [p. 31]

   South of the Sleepy hollow is a third hollow, finding its lowest exit toward the north, 12 feet over the bottom. West of this is a fourth hollow, long and narrow, bordering the western margin of the Delco ridge, and having an exit at its northern end 16 feet above the lowest part of the hollow.

   Various additional hollows occur along the hilltops as far southward as the lands overlooking Hole’s creek, a distance of at least half a mile, but most of these hollows are comparatively shallow and find outlets 10 feet or less above the bottom. Here, moreover, the ridge topography gradually disappears, being displaced by rolling hills dissected by streams permitting an unchecked drainage.


  1. The Hills and Dales Ridges


   The ridges extending from the bluffs at Calvary Cemetery to Moraine farm and Delco Dell have been described in considerable detail for several reasons. They emphasize the combination of decided narrowness and steepness with great length. They call attention to the parallelism of neighboring ridges and to their general southerly trend. Their internal structure is exposed better and at more localities, by means of gravel pits and road cuts, than in the case of any other ridges within this area, south of Dayton. In other words, the facts used in the determination of the origin of these ridges are shown here in more striking fashion than elsewhere.

   However, these are not the only impressive examples of long and narrow gravel ridges. The Hills and Dales owe their chief charm to their presence. One of the chief ridges, the Adirondack ridge, extends from the angle in the Cincinnati pike, at Carrmonte, in a southeasterly direction, in a remarkably straight course, as far as Inspiration Point. This is a distance of a mile and a half, along which the crest of the ridge rises and falls, widens and narrows, and yet maintains within narrow limits the same course. Adirondack camp and Round camp occupy conspicuous stations along the crest of this ridge. The views toward the west extend over comparatively flat or gently rolling grounds as far as the ridges west of the Cincinnati pike, first described.

   East of this Adirondack ridge is the deep valley followed by the [p.32] Meadow Brook road. Farther east is a second conspicuous ridge, the Panorama ridge. This begins east of the golf links, belonging to the Country club, and passes east of the Walnut spring, taking a southeasterly direction, parallel to the Adirondack ridge, as far as Fair Forest. Beyond this point, the ridge merges into the elevated land bordering the Panorama road, taking a more southerly course, until it joins the Adirondack ridge at Inspiration Point. Beyond this point, the ridge merges into the highland extending southward along the Panorama road, east of Locust camp, toward the Frederick farm.

   East of Inspiration Point, a rather short ridge extends along the watershed road northward to Overlook Point. Along its northern end there are several small depressions or kettle holes, which are very tiny when compared with the much larger hollows between the long ridges extending from the Calvary cemetery to Moraine farm and Delco Dell.


  1. The Ridges and Hollow of Calvary Cemetery


   It is evident that the Calvary cemetery topography is identical with that seen among the Moraine farm and Delco Dell ridges. Long, approximately parallel ridges extend in a general north and south direction, and are connected by short transverse ridges, dividing the intervening valley into short enclosed hollows.

   Between the northern end of the Chapel ridge and the western boundary of the cemetery, along the western margins of the bluffs, there are seven ridges, with intermediate hollows, all running in an approximately north and south direction.

   The Chapel ridge formerly extended beyond its present termination, at the gravel pit, northward as far as the bluffs, but this part has been removed almost entirely in preparing the approaches for the cemetery. West of the Chapel ridge is the long Lohman ridge, terminating northwest of the chapel in a high knoll. West of the northern end of the Lohman ridge is a ridge terminating at the Zitter monument. At the southern margin of the cemetery, this ridge is separated from the Calvary ridge by a deep hollow. [p.33]


[Photo: North end of Calvary ridge at the northern limits of Calvary cemetery, looking northward. The flat territory in the foreground occupies that part of the area from which the upper part of the ridge was removed in regrading the cemetery.]


   The Calvary ridge is the most elevated and conspicuous ridge in the cemetery, the highest part being occupied by the beautiful Calvary monument. Northward this ridge terminates at the mound, on the edge of the bluffs, immediately north of the cemetery ground. The latter has been opened several times and some “mound-builders” relics have been obtained from it. Recently, the northern part of this ridge has been regarded, exposing large numbers of gravel boulders among the coarse pebbles forming the top part of the ridge. Many of these boulders equalled a foot in diameter, and some exceeded this dimension. Formerly a long transverse ridge extended from a point about a hundred feet south of the Calvary monument diagonally northeastward toward the Zitter monument, already mentioned, at the northern edge of the cemetery. This transverse ridge is the East Fort ridge. Along its crest formerly extended the low earth-wall forming the eastern boundary of the “Mound-Builder” fort which occupied a considerable part of the present cemetery grounds, inclosing about twenty-four acres of land.

   West of the Calvary ridge is the Gravel Pit ridge. At the northern end of this ridge, immediately north of the cemetery grounds, is the large gravel pit, at present operated by the Dayton Washed Gravel and Sand Company. [p.34] The top of this pit is 185 feet above the level of the canal, and the gravel pit itself has a vertical face of 145 feet, the base of the pit being 40 feet above the level of the canal. Southwest of the Calvary monument, the crest of this ridge is traversed by a woodland road which near the entrance to the woods passes through the southern gateway of the “Mound-Builder” fort.

   West of the northern end of the Gravel Pit ridge there are three ridges, the first of which skirts the eastern edge of the woods on the western side of the cemetery; the second ridge extends southward through the denser parts of these woods; and the third ridge follows the margin on the bluffs on the western side of the cemetery grounds. This third ridge is the one followed by the western part of the low earthwork enclosing the “Mound-Builder” fort. [p.35] [p. 36]


[Photo: View of the western part of the southern earth wall of the fort in the Calvary cemetery, looking eastward toward the southern gateway, which is at the edge of the woods.]

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