A geological phenomenon, carved over millions of years, now features new enhancements that will further protect the natural wonder and help give visitors an up-close look at the formation. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Ohio History Connection celebrated the $2.27 million in upgrades at Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve on Kelleys Island.
“The glacial grooves on Kelleys Island are truly a spectacular sight,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “To think about the enormity of the glaciers that left such a geologic feature is humbling and awe-inspiring. These improvements highlight the important role ODNR plays in protecting our great natural wonders.”
These improvements will enhance the visitor experience and help protect the grooves from the kinds of natural impacts that cause degradation over time. Visitors from around the world will find new bridges, parking, fencing, signage, and even selfie spots to help capture the fun.
According to ODNR’s Division of Geological Survey, the grooves were carved by water that flowed under a giant glacier 12,000 years ago. This carving exposed 400-million-year-old Columbus limestone from the Devonian period. The area originally contained many more grooves, but most were quarried away in the 1800s.
The Ohio History Connection has preserved Glacial Grooves since the organization was deeded the property by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in 1932 and 1934, but most of the remnant grooves remained covered by glacial till until the 1970s.
In May, the Ohio History Connection voted to approve a transfer of ownership of the Glacial Grooves property over to ODNR.
The grooves were mostly uncovered in 1971 and 1972 by the Ohio State University Department of Geology, under the direction of the Ohio History Connection, and have been fully visible and preserved for the past five decades.
“Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve is the only place in the world where the geological phenomenon of glacial grooves may be viewed on such an immense scale,” Ohio History Connection Executive Director and CEO Megan Wood said. “This site shows the power of the ice that formed these grooves, and we must ensure its preservation as an essential link to Ohio’s ancient history.”
The glacial grooves are a global attraction, with an estimated 100,000 guests visiting the feature each year. The exposed grooves are more than 400 feet long, 10 feet deep, and 33 feet wide and are located on the north side of the island.
Open sunrise to sunset and always free of charge, visitors can enjoy the glacial grooves as part of a fun day on Kelleys Island. To access the island, visitors can take a ferry from the mainland, travel by boat, or travel by air. More details are found on the Kelleys Island Chamber of Commerce website at kelleysislandchamber.com/getting-here/.
The Ohio History Connection, formerly the Ohio Historical Society, is a statewide history organization with the mission to spark discovery of Ohio’s stories. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization chartered in 1885, the Ohio History Connection carries out history services for Ohio and its citizens focused on preserving and sharing the state’s history. This includes housing the State Historic Preservation Office and the official state archives and managing more than 50 sites and museums across Ohio. For more information, go to ohiohistory.org.