Know Ohio: Ohio’s Ice Age

THERE ARE MANY OF US OUT THERE WHO MIGHT NOT EXACTLY BE FANS OF OHIO WINTERS. THE COLD, THE ICE, THE SNOW – I GET IT. BUT, BELIEVE ME, WHEN I TELL YOU THAT THE COLD WE EXPERIENCE TODAY IS NOTHING COMPARED TO OHIO A COUPLE MILLION YEARS AGO.

IT WAS THE ICE AGE, A PERIOD OF WORLDWIDE COLD TEMPERATURES – WHICH TRANSFORMED LARGE PORTIONS OF OUR PLANET – INCLUDING OHIO -- INTO ONE BIG ICE SKATING RINK! BEGINNING ABOUT 2.4 MILLION YEARS AGO, MASSIVE SHEETS OF ICE, CALLED GLACIERS, COVERED ABOUT THREE QUARTERS OF THE BUCKEYE STATE. GLACIERS WERE ACTUALLY FORMED BY SNOW THAT HAD ACCUMULATED TO THE POINT WHERE IT IS SO THICK THAT IT HARDENS INTO ICE. BUT WHEN YOU THINK OF ICE, YOU PROBABLY PICTURE SOMETHING VERY STILL – BUT NOT THESE GLACIERS! THEY WERE ON THE MOVE.

DURING THE ICE AGE, MELTING MILE-THICK GLACIERS SLID SOUTH FROM CANADA INTO OHIO. WE KNOW THIS, BECAUSE THEY LEFT A TRAIL BEHIND.
KELLEY’S ISLAND IN LAKE ERIE HAS SOME OF THE BIGGEST AND BEST GROOVES LEFT BY GLACIERS – AND THEY’RE 400 FEET LONG, 35 FEET WIDE AND UP TO 15 FEET DEEP. AS THE GLACIER SLID OVER THE AREA THE SOFT LIMESTONE WAS SCRATCHED INTO SHAPE.

ANOTHER MAGNIFICENT GIFT THESE GLACIERS LEFT BEHIND ARE OUR FIVE GREAT LAKES! THAT’S RIGHT, OUR OWN LAKE ERIE IS REALLY JUST A BIG MELTED GLACIER. SOMETIMES, WHEN THESE GLACIERS WERE MELTING, CHUNKS OF ICE WOULD BREAK OFF AND MELT INTO LOW AREAS OF LAND. THESE FORMED WHAT ARE CALLED KETTLE LAKES, LIKE THIS ONE SOUTH OF COLUMBUS CALLED STAGE’S POND.

OK, SO THE ICE AGE IS PROBABLY NOT THE MOST COMFORTABLE PERIOD OF OHIO HISTORY – BUT THIS IS A TIME THAT SHAPED OUR STATE – LITERALLY!

Instructional Links

Website Article: Glacial Grooves, Kelleys Island, Ohio | Includes links to more info

Video: PBS LearningMedia, DragonFlyTV, GPS, Glaciers | Includes classroom activities

Online Reference Source Article: Ohio History Central, Ice Age Ohio

Map: Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Glacial Map of Ohio | Includes article   

Images: National Snow & Ice Data Center, Glacial Landforms, Grooves and Striations | Includes article

Website Article: Enchanted Learning, Glaciers | Includes info, glossary, activities, and worksheets

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