Sunday, July 24, 2011

Falls of the Ohio

After dropping off my piece at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville, we took a side trip to see the fossil beds at the Falls of Ohio State Park in Clarksville, Indiana, almost directly across the Ohio River.  I'd been itching to go there for some time; after all, what could be more exciting (to me, at least!) than a 386-million-year-old Devonian fossil bed.  When the river is at its lowest, 200 acres (!) of this former coral reef are exposed, making it among the largest naturally exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world.

Looking upriver, you can see Louisville in the background.

You may be wondering, as I did, where's the falls?  One would think the name "Falls of the Ohio" implies an actual waterfall- right?

 Like me, you would be wrong.  The "Falls of the Ohio" was a series of rapids which made navigation almost impossible, so to circumvent these, the Portland canal with locks was completed in 1830. Later the lock and dam system on the Ohio changed this area even further.

Apparently, fishing is good near the dam...

 As I began walking across the fossil beds, I was very excited to see a horn coral 18 inches long, and stopped to take a photo. 

 As I continued, I realized I was walking on hundreds of fossils literally with every step I took...

 This 'beehive coral' had a diameter of about three feet!

There are several levels to the fossil beds; here I'm looking across the upper level toward the bridge.

As you can see, it's huge, and I only had time to explore a tiny fraction of it...

...which means that, of course...

 ... I'll be going back!


  1. Looks like a wonderful place to poke around in for a while! It's weird to think of coral being so far from the sea.

  2. wow, (hee! i said it again!) i would be *ecstatic* there! what a treat to be able to walk around on all of those fossils; to see that ancient sea bed... 386 million years ago!!! is nature mind boggling or what?!! i just love it....


  3. What a great place! Have you read Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier?

  4. Annie- thanks for coming by. I just read that book a couple of months ago; it was pretty fascinating. I was unaware of these women and their role in uncovering the knowledge of the prehistoric that we now take for granted. What an exciting time it must have been- and difficult, too.

  5. Wow a fossil bed. I wish I could go!

  6. How extraordinary is that! A lovely adventure. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Beautiful, and cool to have fossils. Guess its waterfall time in blogland, I just did a post of my own on one!

  8. Wow - I didn't know of this area. I'm still learning from you. Great trip, pics and info.

  9. Jo, it was quite an unusual place. I have no idea if there are fossils where you live... I guess I'll look it up!

    Don- It seems not many people know about it. I didn't either, until my husband told me; I guess he knew because of working on towboats on the rivers.

  10. fossil-geek! looks like you had a great time!!

  11. wow, just amazing... you must have been mesmerized... I love fossils, what an interesting area...

  12. This is a remarkable place. It would be wonderful to make impressions of fossils on sturdy paper. The beehive coral is amazing.


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