Rock House – History and Geology

Just when you think the terrain could not be any more amazing in the Hocking Hills, after you’ve seen the wonders of Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, Ash Cave and all the other natural features of the Hills, then go see Rock House.  The only true “cave” in the park,  it is a tunnel with openings in the ends and sides.  The hike is a challenge because of the many steps and uneven ground though it is not a long one.  From the Sunrise Log Cabins brochure:

 …Water slowly eroded away Black Hand Sandstone, creating the cave. Sandstone is a very porous substance and much more susceptible to erosion than many other types of rocks. Rock House is approximately twenty-five feet high, two hundred feet long, and twenty to thirty feet wide. Seven “windows,” openings that allow sunlight into the cave, exist. Several sandstone columns also support Rock House’s roof. Rock House received its name for two reasons. First, the cave does resemble a house, with its roof, the supporting stone pillars, and its “windows.” Secondly, various groups have used the cave as shelter for thousands of years.
Archaeological evidence has shown that Indians inhabited the cave. The natives constructed small ovens in the rock walls to cook meals. They also created troughs in the cave’s floor, which collected water, providing inhabitants with a water supply. During the nineteenth century, robbers and bandits supposedly hid in the Rock House. Because of this, many local residents referred to Rock House as “Robbers’ Roost.”

 …  Rock House was a popular tourist attraction for nearly a century before the State of Ohio established Hocking Hills State Park. In 1835, Logan, Ohio businessman F. F. Rempel built a sixteen-room hotel a short distance away from Rock House. The hotel included a ballroom, stables, and even a post office.

After making our way down the hillside, down the many stairs and then climbing into the cave all we could say was “Wow!”  The floor of the cave was sandy, from the sandstone eroding from above, making it slippery under foot in places.  It was very dark, the only light is from the opening in the rock on either end and on the the sides.  Once your eyes adjust to the dimness, details emerge.  The wall ovens and troughs become visible.  You see graffiti carved into the walls by previous visitors, some from the 1800’s.  You hear the faint sound of water running somewhere, the fluttering of the pigeons that live in the cave and the ooh’s and aah’s of fellow hikers.  We spent a lot of time here.  The sense of history and mystery is strong.  In the slideshow photos, the ones showing colors of the rock walls were taken with flash.  In some I used natural lighting to give you a feeling for the ambiance in the cave.  I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed being in this place and taking them.  Of all the places we visited, this is one to which I most want to return.

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About SallyK

A little blog about the ordinary and not so ordinary things our family does, places we travel, things we see. Like travel, cooking, family stories, book reviews, music? You will find it all here - comments welcome!
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4 Responses to Rock House – History and Geology

  1. Reggie says:

    What an extraordinary cave – well-captured, Sally. I wonder how long it took the inhabitants to carve out those water-troughs?

    • SallyK says:

      And to figure out where to locate them. It was so dry everywhere but those underground springs still flowed. Later I read that turpentine was also made in the cave and I believe those manmade hollows were on the upper ledges. Can’t wait to go back and find out!

  2. Deb Platt says:

    Loved your photos. I really like to visit here, but I don’t think I’ve ever paid attention to the graffiti. Now that I know there is “historic” graffiti here, I’ll have to check it out.

    You know, I’ve had a chance to get a close up look at the coronation throne in Britain. It is covered in graffiti surprisingly enough.

    • SallyK says:

      It appears that mankind will leave their mark wherever they go. It is fascinating how detailed and precise some of the graffiti is. Someone was there with intention, tools and time.

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