Skip to content

Brandywine Falls in the Valley EarthCache

Hidden : 01/23/2009
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Size: Size:   not chosen (not chosen)

Join now to view geocache location details. It's free!


How Geocaching Works

Please note Use of services is subject to the terms and conditions in our disclaimer.

Geocache Description:

Brandywine Falls EarthCache

Brandywine Falls is one of the most popular sites in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP), and the best example of a waterfall in the entire Lake Erie watershed.

The main entrance is off Brandywine Road in Sagamore Hills. The trailhead has restrooms and a small picnic area. Multi-level boardwalks and decks allow close observation of the waterfall and gorge. Note that these may be closed in winter due to icy conditions.

In the late 1700s the northeast quadrant of Ohio, including the valley, was owned by Connecticut and known as Connecticut's Western Reserve. Connecticut sold the land to investors who formed the Connecticut Land Company. Brandywine Falls was sold to a prominent Western Reserve citizen, George Wallace, Sr., who was interested in harnessing its hydropower.

In 1814 Wallace built and began operating a saw mill at the falls. By 1830 he had added a grist mill, a woolen factory, and a distillery. The grist mill was built on the south side of the creek. The ruins of a sandstone block foundation from the 20th century mill that replaced it still exist today. The whiskey produced by the distillery was used locally as legal tender and became known as "Brandywine Currency." These first industries were an inspiration for other early industrial developments in the Cuyahoga Valley.

The industrial developments brought people and soon a village sprang up with homes and a school. In 1848, James Wallace (George's son) and his wife Adeline began building the Greek Revival style home that still prominently stands 100 yards north of the falls. Today the home is owned by CVNP and leased out privately as a bed-and-breakfast.

The village peaked in the mid 1850s and by the late 1870s was rapidly declining. The Ohio & Erie Canal and the newly built railroad brought prosperity to nearby Cleveland and Akron. Brandywine found itself left behind and the village was soon a memory. Only one house remains of the village, the former Lemoin house built in 1859. It stands 100 yards south of the highway on Brandywine Road.

The basic principle of waterfall formation is that there is a watercourse (river or stream) flowing over layers of rock that erode at different rates. Water erodes soft rock layers faster than hard ones, eventually creating a vertical drop-a waterfall. Over time, the waterfall gets taller, the plunge pool deepens, the lower layers of soft rock are undercut, and chunks of the hard layers above collapse from lack of support, causing the waterfall to retreat upstream.

Brandywine Creek, the third largest tributary flowing into the Cuyahoga River, is the water source of the sixty-foot Brandywine Falls. Approximately 10,000 years ago, the last glacier retreated leaving behind the creek to carve out the falls and the gorge surrounding it. The falls are a fan type of waterfall with a bridal veil appearance. A fan waterfall drops and slides along a steep slope while consistently maintaining contact with the underlying cliff. The narrow creek water source at the top of the falls spreads out as it flows down the slope.

These falls demonstrate the classic geological features of a waterfall with its harder rock layer as a cap protecting a softer layer of rock below. The cap layer is yellow-brown Berea sandstone which was formed about 320 million years ago. Berea is high-quality sandstone found commonly throughout northeast Ohio. The under layers include Bedford and Cleveland shale with just the brownish-gray Bedford visible. These rocks were formed 300 to 400 million years ago. The thinly chunked shale is what gives the falls its bridal veil appearance. Both of these rock layers were formed from the sediment (mud) of ancient oceans that covered Ohio. Both were compressed over time.

The waterfall's appearance is dynamic-the view today could be different tomorrow. The amount of water flowing over it changes its character, making it appear almost moody. Dry spells present the falls as calm and soothing. After significant rainfall, the bridal-veil pattern becomes more pronounced and it comes across as angry and agitated. In winter, ice becomes the attraction here when the entire falls become frozen over and just a glimpse of the running creek can be seen under the ice.

Logging Requirements:
A picture of your visit would be nice, totally optional however. From the lower observation deck, take a picture of yourself and your GPS with the falls in the background. Would be nice to see you having a great today EarthCaching.

1. From the lower observation deck, estimate the thickness of the Berea sandstone capping the falls.

2. In your estimation, give me the mood of the falls today and why.

3. Below the falls you'll see large rocks that have fallen there. What type of rock is that? Sandstone or shale? Explain how the rocks got there.

4. Standing over the falls, what is your estimate of Brandywine Creek's depth and width today?

5. From the falls, give me a cardinal heading as to where the whiskey distillery used to be located. Was it east of the falls? Southwest? North? Look for a wayside exhibit along the boardwalk that can help in locating the old distillery site. Physically it is long gone.

Post your happy picture and be sure to email me your answers within five days of your logged visit or per rules. I must delete your log if you fail to comply.


Even though this park is open all year, this EarthCache should not be attempted when there is snow or ice on the ground. It will be impossible to gather some of your requirements and the boardwalk steps are too treacherous. For public safety, CVNP close them off when conditions are dangerous. There will be no way for you to obtain your requirements if you can't walk the entire boardwalk. No exceptions granted due to lack of access-save this EarthCache for a nicer day.

The lower deck of Brandywine Falls is a popular area for weddings and wedding photographs. These activities are allowed under special-use permit with the National Park Service and generally last less than 40 minutes. Please be courteous and wait until the events are concluded before accessing the lower deck at Brandywine Falls.


Cuyahoga Valley National Park website;

Book; Roadside Geology of Ohio by Dr. Mark J. Camp Book; Trail Guide: Cuyahoga Valley National Park by Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council

Book; Cuyahoga Valley National Park Handbook by Carolyn Platt


Thanks to the National Park Service for permitting this EarthCache.

If you are interested in creating a new EarthCache in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, please contact Arrye Rosser at (440) 546-5992 or about becoming an EarthCache volunteer. Note that the national park does not permit geocaches at this time.

This is the hiking viking's 104th cache in the greater Akron area.

Additional Hints (No hints available.)