Five thousand feet of ice may have covered what we know as Courthouse Square and surrounding northeastern Ohio some time during the Ice Age.
Seems impossible to imagine, doesn't it?
All that ice was gone from Trumbull County prior to 10,000 years ago, according to information from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. All that is left of the icy glaciers in our area is a scoured landscape and sedimentary deposits known as moraines, kames and kettles.
To go back further in time, eastern Ohio may have been at the edge of what we call North America about 1 billion years ago, during a geologic time known as the Precambrian Era.
Since the Precambrian, three primary orogenies (mountain building events) have taken place, adding the land mass of Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the continent. The Appalachian Mountains, also called the Allegheny Mountains in our neighboring area, are the most recent of the mountain-building events. They featured peaks in the past much higher than today's elevations, perhaps twice as high as Mount Mitchell, a 6,684-foot peak in North Carolina, the highest point in the Appalachians.
The highest point in Ohio today is Campbell Hill in Logan County at 1,550 feet. It is not in the Appalachians, but that elevation is not all that insignificant when taking into consideration parts of Ohio were under salty or freshwater inland seas for long periods of time.
Sandwiched between the mountain-building events was the geologic period known as the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian Periods. During that time, the great "Coal Swamp" trees and ferns grew in a lush tropical climate.
What we know as Ohio was near the equator in a flat environment similar to the Okefenokee Swamp of South Georgia. The 40- to 100-foot-tall Calamites and Lepidodendrons grew here 300 million years ago. This time preceded the Appalachian mountain-building event by about 50 million years.
"Couldn't be," I said, when I thought of some of these ancient events.
But a book titled ''Roadside Geology of Ohio," published by Mountain Press in October 2006, provides a readable overview of Ohio's geology and indicates where the eroded mountaintops went.
Author Mark J. Camp, a geologist at the University of Toledo, says it could be. The author writes, "Geologists are only beginning to unravel this hidden history and how it relates to important mineral occurrences and earthquake activity in Ohio."
Reading geology is like reading a good detective story, looking for clues, trying to find out what event did what to whatever other event, when and why.
Most of Camp's book is about rocks we can see at road cuts and natural formations along the highways. He has laid out 25 road guides for travel and exploration.
Included are Interstate 80 and U.S. Route 422 from the Pennsylvania line to Cleveland; state Route 11 from Ashtabula to East Liverpool; and I-80/90 and U.S. Route 20 to Toledo and the Indiana Line.
You'll enjoy looking at the featured geology on your trips around Ohio. The author also makes references to plant and animal fossils and where to find them.
"Roadside Geology of Ohio" is a 9-inch-by-6-inch paperback, 410 pages in length, complete with maps, photographs, index, glossary and suggested additional reading. It is available at Warren-Trumbull County Public Library. Keep your copy in the car door pocket.
Someone said, "Build it and they will come." Someone else may have said, ''Identify the geology and they will come.'' That's what happened in Trumbull County. People came for salt, coal, iron ore, limestone, clay, sand, gravel, building stones, oil and natural gas. They are coming for natural gas today.
From 1895 to 1903, Ohio was the leading oil producer in the country. We still produce oil, natural gas and coal. About half of all the electric power produced in our state comes from the burning of Ohio coal. Now the emphasis is upon natural gas.
Geology is why many of our forefathers came here. We will be looking at it much more and prospering from it in the future.