17 November 2010

Honey Run Waterfall

Topographical map of Ohio with Knox County
outlined. Adapted from the Ohio Department
of Natural Resources (link).
Knox County, Ohio has the advantage of straddling a geological transition zone between the glaciated and unglaciated Allegheny Plateau. The county seat, Mount Vernon, lies in the valley in the western part of the county, on the leading edge of the Wisconsin glacier (the most recent glacial period). The glacier entered the county from the West and pushed toward the East. Of course glaciation ebbs and flows. While Mount Vernon abuts the firm boundary of Wisconsin-glaciated features, the glacier had pushed eastward as to the edge of the county at some points, leaving only the extreme northeast unglaciated. My copy of the 1961 State of Ohio Department of Natural Resources' report on the geology of Knox County (by Samuel I. Root, Joaquin Rodriguez, and Jane L. Forsyth) shows the boundary near Mount Vernon to be a differentiation between the recent Wisconsin glaciation and the distant Illinois glaciation that pushed further East than the Wisconsin.

Of course lower elevation river valleys conduct glacial activity and the prominent Kokosing River flows eastward through the county. East of Mount Vernon is the little unincorporated community of Millwood and the Honey Run Waterfall area, owned by the Knox County Park District. It's a fantastic park with hiking trails and the only waterfall in Knox County. Honey Run empties directly into the Kokosing River in an area with excellent examples of blackhand sandstone, perhaps better known from the Hocking Hills area of Ohio. Surrounding the Honey Run park are ground moraines and terminal moraines of Illinois glaciation derivation. The blackhand sandstone formations in and along the Kokosing River appear to be Wisconsin rock terraces. This unique area in Knox County also provides local nature enthusiasts with a drastically different flora to study. Here we find a disjunct boreal habitat more often found in Canada today. There are large hemlocks that dominate the view of the waterfall, teetering precariously on sandstone cliffs. I always love going to this park for that not-of-this-state feeling with its aberrant geology and flora. It just doesn't feel like Ohio, or at least how I think Ohio should feel - you know, plains full of corn, wheat, and soy. It's true that's how much of Western Ohio appears, but here? Here is a little slice of Canada (or at least its typical boreal habitat) in the middle of Knox County.

And if you've never been to Ohio, I bet you always thought it was completely flat. Surprise!

Honey Run Waterfall in February.

The Kokosing River at Honey Run, looking West. Notice the Blackhand
sandstone on either side of the river. Taken in October.

The sandstone is really easy to write in. Antique graffiti.

Cladonia furcata, I think - a grey reindeer lichen.