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Black Hand Sandstone and a Hermit

By Linda Tancs

Talk about strange bedfellows.  What does black hand sandstone have to do with a hermit? The answer lies in Hocking Hills State Park in southeastern Ohio. More than 200 million years ago, Ohio’s ancient waters drained away, leaving behind a course sandstone resistant to erosion known as black hand sandstone. The sandstone formed cliffs, gorges and recesses like Ash Cave (Ohio’s largest cave) and Old Man’s Cave. A hermit lived in Old Man’s Cave (hence, the name) in the late 1700s and is buried at the site. Hocking Hills claims not only remarkable geologic sandstone formations and a hermit but also the state’s tallest tree.

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