pits along the ridge top in east-central Ohio mark
old flint quarries used for the last 11,000 years by
ancient Indians. The pits are the main attraction at
Flint Ridge State Memorial in Licking County
Ohio — Flint Ridge is one of the most historically
significant spots in Ohio.
it’s hard to be impressed by what you’re seeing: a
wooded ridge in southeast Licking County.
quarries where ancient Indians extracted flint for tools
and weapons are little more than water-filled pits that
line the trails at 533-acre Flint Ridge State Memorial in
Hopewell Township near Newark. Scores of pits are evidence
of where the Indians quarried the precious and brittle
blue-gray rock on periodic visits.
Ridge includes a small museum that was built over an old
pit and provides information on the digging and shaping of
flint. The area is managed by the Ohio Historical Society
and its partner, the Licking Valley Heritage Society
Ridge is known for the quantity and the quality of the
flint that was quarried here. Still, it takes a dose of
imagination to comprehend its archaeological significance.
Indians began quarrying the flint starting 11,000 years
ago. They needed the razor-sharp, brightly colored rock
for tools, weapons, ceremonial objects and jewelry. Flint
Ridge offered high-quality stone in an array of colors:
pink, gray, white, black and copper. The most common is
white with gray streaks, known as Vanport flint. The Ohio
flint has a high quartz content and those crystals shine
20-mile-long ridge with its irregular deposits between
Newark and Zanesville became the center of the prehistoric
economy in the eastern United States. Indian trails led
of pits lined the main eight-mile-long vein of flint in
Licking and Muskingum counties. It has been called the
"Great Indian Quarry of Ohio." The flint
deposits extend about three miles north to south and nine
miles east to west. They generally cover five to six
square miles or about 2,500 acres.
Ohio flint was traded by Hopewell Indians (100 B.C. to 500
A.D.) for copper from Upper Michigan, mica from the
Carolinas and shells from the Gulf of Mexico. Flint Ridge
flint has been found as far away as Kansas City, Louisiana
and along the East Coast.
Indians found the rock outcroppings at the surface and
then dug through dirt and limestone to reach the flint. It
was difficult work. The Hopewells did most of the
flint was found in layers from 1 to 10 feet thick. The
flint at the surface was not used, as it was too brittle
and cracked easily after being exposed to the elements.
Indians used large hammerstones or mauls made of granite
or quartzite, weighing up to 25 pounds, to drive wood or
bone wedges into natural cracks in the flint. The stone
was quarried into smaller blocks that were easy to
the quarries, skilled workers using small antler hammers
and other tools pressed and chipped the flint into
leaf-shaped pieces from 3 to 12 inches long and 2 to 5
inches wide. These blades with rounded or square bases
could then be transported to faraway villages or turned
into drills, knives, scrapers and arrow and spear points
in work areas near the quarries.
flint was 300 million years old. The silica needed to form
it came from the skeletons of sponges that were abundant
when a warm shallow sea covered what is now Ohio. Chemical
impurities gave the flint its distinctive coloring. About
200 million years ago, the land was uplifted. Erosion
washed away the soft surface layers to expose the flint.
also quarried flint at smaller deposits in Vinton,
Jackson, Coshocton, Hocking and Perry counties in Ohio.
first white pioneers in Ohio made use of Flint Ridge’s
rock for buhr stones or millstones at water-powered mills
on the Ohio frontier. Smaller pieces were used to
hand-grind corn and wheat at log cabins. The rock was also
used to build the National Road in Licking and Muskingum
can get a good look at the old pits by hiking the short
trails at Flint Ridge.
Quarry Trail begins at the museum and runs about one-third
of a mile. It is rough and muddy in spots, running near
the deepest and largest pits.
Creek Trail is just more than 1 mile in length. It is
hilly and muddy. There is also a quarter-mile-long
hard-surfaced trail for handicapped access. The Bear
Hollow Trail is across Flint Ridge Road from the main
state memorial area.
the trails, you will see outcroppings, boulders and bits
of flint. The evidence is everywhere, especially piles of
chips. There are impressive flint outcroppings off the
Creek Trail and not far from the picnic area.
pits are filled with leaves and water, because a layer of
brown shale under the flint keeps the water from sinking
into the soil. Some are up to 60 feet deep and 60 feet
across. They’re scattered along the hummocky and heavily
museum offers a look at one pit, plus displays of flint
tools, weapons, jewelry and flint geology.
away any flint is prohibited, although you can purchase
pieces in the museum store. Flint is Ohio’s state stone.
Ohio Historical Society established the memorial in 1933.
The museum was added in 1968.
Ridge is off Brownsville Road (County Road 668) at Flint
Ridge Road (County Road 312) north of Interstate 70 and
south of Newark.
hours are dawn to dusk daily. The museum is open from 9:30
a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays
from May to October. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for
students. Children 5 and under are free.
more information, contact Flint Ridge State Memorial,
740-787-2476 or 800-283-8707,