Rock it Out along the Towpath!

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Rock it Out along the Towpath!
by: Kim High, Metroparks Master Interpreter

With the leaves and vegetation of summer gone, winter hiking directs our attention to a broader lay out of the landscape, and some fascinating geologic features become more noticeable along the Towpath. 

In places near the river’s edges and near rapids, look for exposed bedrock—flat, gray layers of sedimentary rock that are hundreds of millions of years old. For comparison, the sand you see in the nearby Oak Openings Region was deposited less than 15 thousand years ago.  You might be surprised to know that hundreds of millions of years ago, this region was covered by a shallow sea and substantially closer to the equator. The bedrock visible at our Metroparks along the Maumee River is a reminder of that ancient time.

As you approach Bend View, look for the famous and very scenic, ‘bend’ in the river.  Here you can see that the mighty Maumee makes a turn of about 90 degrees. This turn suggests that below our feet, not all bedrock is created equal. Here, as the Maumee River cut its way through geologic strata, it likely encountered varied bedrock types and resistances, changing its course and direction. For hikers, the result is an incredibly beautiful panorama of the Maumee River at the Bend View Shelter.

Further east into Farnsworth, just before the historic Interurban Bridge, look for the famous giant rock in the middle of the river.  Named after an early French settlement, this rock is called both Roche de Bout and Roche de Boeuf, depending on the literature.  Very generally translated, these terms respectively mean ‘rock of end’ or ‘rock of beef/buffalo.’  We leave what to call it up to your imaginations: Do you think this giant boulder in the middle of the river looks like it has a point or end to it, or does it resemble a buffalo to you?   Deciding may be a challenge. During construction of the Interurban Bridge in the early 1900’s, about one third of this massive rock was destroyed.