Leo Petroglyph and Nature Preserve

Yesterday presented an unexpected opportunity to visit Leo Petroglyph and Nature Preserve in Jackson County, Ohio. A petroglyph is a form of rock art that involves carving an image into the surface of a rock.

At Leo, ancient peoples carved 37 figures of people, snakes, human footprints and animals into a sandstone outcropping. It’s said to be one of the finest examples of rock art in Ohio. Historians are puzzled by the origin and meaning of this art but are fairly certain it was left by the Fort Ancient peoples. Time has taken its toll but it is now protected by a wood shelter house with a walkway around the rock.

Perhaps the highlight here is a short nature trail through the woods that takes you through a gorge past cliffs and Eastern Hemlock. I imagine it will be a great place to see native wildflowers in a couple of months.

See the face?

The sky was gorgeous.

Yesterday was a great day to see some icicles in the gorge and to breath in the clean air of an unseasonably warm February day.

It will be cold and snowy again later this week but this gasp of warm air felt incredibly nice. I hope to go back in May when the ice has melted and the wildflowers bloom.

Johnson Road Covered Bridge

The Johnson Road Covered Bridge in Jackson County has a claim to fame for being one of the last of its kind still standing in Ohio.

Here’s the story:

Built in 1869, it was constructed using the Smith Truss. This kind of truss was invented and patented by Ohio bridge builder Robert W. Smith. His company was based in Tippecanoe City, Ohio (present day Tipp City) and was known as a prolific bridge builder through Ohio and parts of the Midwest.

He started with wooden bridges like the Johnson Road bridge but eventually moved to Toledo where he turned his interest towards metal truss bridges.

Almost all the covered bridges in Jackson County were made by Smith’s firm but this is the only one that remains.

According to the Jackson County Engineer’s Office, the purpose of this design was to provide maximum strength using minimum materials. In other words, it was a sturdy bridge that didn’t cost a bundle to build .

You can drive through this bridge and, aside from the graffiti, it seems well maintained. A couple of things to note- there is a bend in the road as you approach the bridge, making it hard to see oncoming traffic until you’re right there. Since it’s a township road, it’s not busy out there but you still need to pay attention.

Want to find it? The Maps app on my iPhone got me right there by using the address 1599 Johnson Road, Jackson, Ohio. You will turn off Rt 32, a four lane highway, and be on State Route 776 for a while. This two lane road is curvy and passes through some farm country including a few Amish homes. Watch out for farm equipment and buggies.