In my back and forth travels, on numerous occasions I have passed a brown sign pointing in the direction of Leo Petroglyphs. Petroglyphs? In Ohio? I wanna see those!
Leo Petroglyphs were carved into sandstone by people of the Fort Ancient Culture. These were Native Americans who inhabited the lands that ran along the Ohio River. Their name comes from the Fort Ancient, Ohio archeological site.
Earlier in the day, on the way to Celtic Fest, we stopped at Hopewell Mound so Renau could get her National Parks Passport and first stamp. We thought how amazing it would be to wrap up the day with Leo Petroglyphs. We found the brown sign and followed the directions through cow pastures, twisty turny roads and some sketchy stretches of pavement. We arrived at a timber shelter and pulled into the parking lot. There was a truck parked in the back corner, the lot was small. Two young men were leaning on their truck. I questioned safety and Renau brushed it aside and hopped out of the car. Ok, let’s do this. I reach in the back for my camera as I hear “How you guys doing today?!” I stand straight, guys behind me, and look at Renau over the roof of the car with an over-the-top “told you so” expression. “Great, thanks!” Keep moving bustling around the car and preparing to hike whatever trail to get to the petroglyphs. “You ain’t from around here, are you?” My sarcastic nature fought the urge to say, “Why sure we are Bobby Earl, don’t you recognize me from down the road a fetch?” while my survival instinct was to hold onto my kidney, jump back in the car and hope I didn’t wake up in a tub of ice. Renau called out “No. We are here to see the petroglyphs!” And they point at the shelter. “The trail is over there?” “No, they are under the shelter!”
And, sure enough, there it was. Among the picnic tables, garbage on the ground and disposed condom – was the rock upon which the petroglyphs were etched. And, no, I did not take a picture of the condom. Thought about it though. I was kind of sad that “this” was all there was. The website said there were over 30 petroglyphs, we saw only two. Maybe one was under the condom? Or under the graffiti? We grabbed a couple of pictures and walked the few feet back to the car. Renau had a conversation with the boys about mounds and Indian sites and whatnot as they took their fishing gear out of the truck and started to walk away.
As we got into the car I was left with a “that’s it?” feeling. However, in retrospect, those carvings are from around 1,000 years ago. 1,000! And they are still here, trying to tell a story (though covered with a condom). There is a level of disappointment in the people who felt it ok to disregard this piece of history in a manner that was barbarian. I am glad I stopped. And, if you are traveling along in Ray, Ohio and see the brown sign pointing the way, go ahead and stop to take a look. Tell the boys Renau says “hey”!
From the Leo Petroglyph website (the infamous shelter):
Per the OhiHistory.org:
Perched on a ridge just outside the village of Leo, Leo Petroglyph & Nature Preserve is a legacy of the American Indian peoples of ancient Ohio. Protected beneath the roof of a shelter house, a large flat sandstone slab preserves the traces of some of the most remarkable rock art in Ohio. The panel of petroglyphs includes between 37 figurative drawings of humans, birds, animal and human foot prints, a fish, a snake and other figures carved into the rock outcropping on the gently sloping hillside above a steep gorge. Leo Petroglyph is actually is a series of petroglyphs ancient people cut into the sandstone outcrop. The exact age of the carvings is unknown, but based on the degree of weathering of the soft sandstone, the carvings are probably not more than 1,000 years old. The art is likely the work of the Fort Ancient culture.