By Damaine Vonada
Posted On: Aug 28, 2016
If somebody asked me to pick Ohio’s top natural wonders, the Glacial Grooves on Kelleys Island would be at the top of my list. The largest of Ohio’s Lake Erie islands, Kelleys got its name in 1840 from two brothers – Datus and Irad Kelley – who bought up the entire island to quarry limestone, but its famous Glacial Grooves – like Lake Erie itself – were created by Mother Nature.
Millions of years ago sediments deposited in shallow seas that covered much of North America formed the island’s limestone bedrock. When massive ice sheets advanced across the continent during the Ice Age, glaciers scoured the bedrock and created huge depressions, which filled with meltwater and formed the Great Lakes after the climate warmed. Geologists think that a mile-thick glacier carved the Glacial Grooves on Kelleys Island’s about 20,000 years ago.
At 430 feet long, 35 feet wide, and 15 feet deep, the Glacial Grooves are one of the world’s largest and most visible examples of glacial scarring. They make a powerful statement about the forces of nature, and the elevated walkways at Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve provide visitors with great views of the enormous furrows.
Whenever I take friends to see this National Natural Landmark, I like to tell them that they’re looking at the best free show in Ohio.
Of course, getting to the Glacial Grooves is half the fun. The trip from Marblehead on the bright orange Kelleys Island Ferry only takes about 20 minutes, and when leaves are turning in September, the red-and-gold tinged island and sparkling blue lake look especially lovely. Since the ferry transports vehicles as well as people, you can drive to the Glacial Grooves, which are located on the north side of the island next to Kelleys Island State Park.
You should allow plenty of time for gazing at the grooves, but sure to stop by the state park too. It has miles of scenic hiking trails and a beautiful secluded beach with a sandy shore that’s perfect for an end-of-summer stroll.
Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve, north end of Division St., Kelleys Island