RAY, Ohio — A retired geologist is working to maintain an important piece of Ohio history.
Jim Meacham is a volunteer and the president of Friends of Leo Petroglyphs. They help maintain the Leo Petroglyphs and Nature Preserve in Ray, Ohio.
The site includes a large, flat sandstone slab with nearly 40 figurative drawings of humans, birds, animal and human footprints, a fish, a snake, and other figures carved into the rock. According to The Ohio History Connection, this is a part of the legacy of the American Indian people of ancient Ohio.
"This site was actually discovered in 1898 by a farmer," said Meacham.
Meacham takes his responsibility seriously because he said, "This is one of the few sites in Ohio where we have petroglyphs."
“We’re in charge of taking care of the trails and keeping the site mowed and trimmed and so on. And also, trying to interpret what we see here," he said.
Adjacent to the petroglyphs is a half-mile trail and nature preserve. The trail runs through a gorge and along 20-65 feet high sandstone cliffs.
Meacham said the cliffs "were thought to be stopover points for the hunting groups that came through here. They would stay here for a short period of time while they were gathering game and so on.”
Despite the peace and quiet in the area, the site faces an array of challenges.
“Deforestation years ago has caused a problem with the trees here. They’re slowly dwindling. We’re not getting younger trees coming in. We have a very large stand of mature trees and nothing replacing them," he said.
Meacham said graffiti is also a big issue. "We find it more and more all the time."
Regardless of the obstacles, Meacham hopes to continue walking the trail and working to preserve history for as long as he can.
“Well this is just one of the things in history that is just not going to be here forever and history is important to us in knowing where we came from and what shaped us," he said.
The Leo Petroglyphs and Nature Preserve is free to visit. It's open seven days per week, during daylight hours. More information can be found here.