In 1970, my sophomore year in college, I was introduced to
Black Hand Gorge by some upper-class friends. I suspect at
that time it was private property we were traipsing around
on, but we had an awful lot of fun.
The history of the Gorge, or the Licking River 'Narrows' is
the history of our community. Opened up by the Ohio & Erie
Canal, the Gorge was a focal point of early transportation.
The Inter Urban Electric Train system ran along the north
side of the Licking River. The Central Ohio Railroad ran
along the south side of the River.
Significant amounts of stone were quarried from the area
for use in local construction and manufacturing.
When the Dillon Dam was built down river in the 1940's, the
gorge became part of the dam's flood reservoir, and was no
longer suitable for any use other than recreation.
Today it is a State of Ohio Nature Preserve with a bike
path running along the south side of the river. It is a great
place to walk or bike ride. Last weekend there were several
kayakers coming down the river. Not a trip for the faint
at heart when the water is up, but a great time.
It is truly a treasure. We are fortunate to be able to enjoy it.
This old log cabin greets visitors to the Nature Preserve
The water is up. The Licking River flowing east from
the Toboso Bridge.
"Black Hand Rock"
The laid stones at the bottom of the rock are the
remains of the stone tow path from the Ohio and Erie Canal.
The rock had to be blasted to make room for the path.
The 'black hand' was destroyed during the blasts.
A view from the
Quarry Rim Trail.
The water is a quarry
In the late 1800's
The Everett Glass
Works in Newark
quarried here for
sandstone which was
then crushed for
use in the
The 'Deep Cut'. In 1850-51 workers blasted and dug
this cut through a wall of solid rock 64' high and 700'
thick. Trains ran through the 'Deep Cut' until the
1940's, when the construction of Dillon Dam forced
the re-location of the rail tracks.