Flint, Ohio’s official gemstone, is the most well-known rock in the state, but it’s not common in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland is located in the county’s northeast corner along the shoreline of Lake Erie).
So, I have to admit that when I think of intriguing places to rockhound, Cleveland does not immediately come to mind, until I discovered the region is home to some of the oldest and largest quarries in existence.
The following sites are a few of the many quarries, preserves, and reservations that I find most interesting.
Rockhounding Near Cleveland, Ohio
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Cleveland Metroparks is an extensive system of nature preserves and hiking trails in Cuyahoga County and bears mention even though rockhounding is not permitted in any of their parks.
But if you are interested in exploring and learning about the geology of the area, it’s well worth your time.
The park system spans over 23,000 acres and includes more than 300 miles of walking, bicycle, and horse trails which circle the city of Cleveland.
You can follow along the shore of Lake Erie and the rivers and creeks that flow through the preserves.
The region is all sedimentary rock, so the mineral and stone sources are sandstone and silty limestone, siltstone, rock salt, dolomite, and gypsum.
A diamond was actually found in 1870, aptly named the “Cleveland Diamond” near Big Creek in the vicinity of today’s Metroparks Zoo.
Though rockhounding is not permitted, adjacent locations may provide opportunities for rock hunting (ownership and boundaries would need to be verified and permission obtained).
The following three locations have areas that are within the Cleveland Metroparks system, but which include dramatic views and geological formations.
Whiskey Island (an island you can walk to) is actually a peninsula at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River at Lake Erie.
As mentioned, it’s part of the Cleveland Metroparks system and includes a hiking trail. Whiskey Island is also home to the Cleveland Salt Mine – a massive mine deep below Lake Erie.
The salt resulted from a giant inland sea which covered the region about 400 million years ago.
Unfortunately, the mine is no longer open to tours, but halite and anhydrite minerals abound on the island.
And thanks to the ancient inland sea, limestone and dolostone may contain fossils of invertebrate marine life such as corals and trilobites (the official Ohio State fossil).
Brecksville is a suburb of Cleveland, and part of Cuyahoga National Park and Brecksville Reservation occupy most of the eastern half.
The reservation has an extensive system of trails with breathtaking vistas.
The rocky outcrops are composed of Cleveland Shale (a black carbon-based shale), Chagrin Shale (a blue gray to dark gray silty shale), and Berea Sandstone (a renowned, light-colored building stone).
The outcrops contain visible masses of sphalerite veined with baryte and pyrite nodules.
Tinker’s Creek flows through Bedford just east of Cleveland. Bedford Reservation occupies the southwest area of the city and features a deep gorge that was carved out by Tinker’s Creek.
In fact, the gorge has been declared a National Natural Landmark.
Over 2,200 acres, the reservation is covered with large trees since the terrain is too rugged for logging.
The view from Gorge Parkway is spectacular, especially in the fall.
Similar to the Brecksville outcrops, the exposed rock consists of Cleveland Shale with nodules of pyrite.
The Buckeye Quarry
The Buckeye Quarry in Amherst is about 40 minutes or 30 miles from Cleveland via I-80 W. Amherst.
Called the “Sandstone Center of the World”, it’s home to the country’s largest quarries.
Buckeye Quarry is renowned for its gray sandstone of the same name (Buckeye Gray Sandstone).
The quarry is one of several defunct mines in Amherst and was active from the mid-1800s to 1992.
Today, you can still walk among the abandoned remnants of Northeast Ohio’s largest industry.
Mineral surveys have also identified calcite, halite, melanterite, pickeringite, pyrite and rozenite.
White Star Park
White Star Park is part of Sandusky County Parks (about 1 hour or 60 miles from Cleveland via I-90 W and OH-2).
The park was originally established as a way to convert the abandoned White Star Limestone Quarry into a public space.
The Sandusky County Park District later expanded the area, which now encompasses 16 parks over 2500 acres.
The ultimate goal was to preserve nature for the public while providing educational resources and recreational activities.
Since metal detecting is permitted on most of their properties, I contacted the district and was able to confirm that rockhounding is not prohibited under their rules and should be permissible throughout the parks as long as safety is maintained, with the exception of White Star Beach (for more details, please visit the park link).
Mineral surveys have also identified baryte, biotite, calcite, celestine, cerussite, dolomite, fluorite, galena, hexahydrite, marcasite, millerite, pyrite, sphalerite and strontianite.
The Village of Genoa Quarry at Veterans’ Memorial Park
The Village of Genoa Quarry at Veterans’ Memorial Park (about 1.5 hours or 100 miles from Cleveland via I-80 W) is owned by the Village of Genoa and open to the public (closed until Memorial Day).
The Genoa Quarry remains an active quarry and is a major producer of limestone.
And since fossils are most common in limestone, you are likely to find corals, clams and crinoids (e.g., starfish and sea urchins).
Gypsum, anhydrite, calcite, celestine, dolomite, fluorite, galena, marcasite, pyrite and sphalerite have also been identified in surveys.
Fossil Park, in Sylvania (about 2 hours or 125 miles from Cleveland via I-80 W) is part of the Olander Park System, and well worth the distance – especially if you are traveling with family.
Thanks again to that ancient inland sea, Fossil Park has more than 200 species of fossilized, prehistoric life.
And you can keep whatever buried treasures you find.
Fossil Park is five acres of accessible rock, allowing you to safely search for fossils in a controlled environment.
The specimens are in soft shale that can be broken apart by hand, making this an activity suitable for all ages.
As an added bonus, many fossils are lined with marcasite or calcite.
The links I’ve provided should contain all the specific information visitors might need.
When in doubt, I would urge all rockhounds to confirm whether or not they are allowed to collect at a particular site.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources or the County Clerk’s Office will be able to tell you who owns the land and if it’s public or privately owned. ‘Trust but verify’ should be every rockhound’s motto.
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