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ORVEC Falls Of The Ohio

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Hidden : 06/14/2005
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Geocache Description:

Falls of The Ohio

The fossil beds here are the largest naturally exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world!

Dating back to the Middle Devonian Period, about 387 million years ago, the fossils found here are the remains of over 600 species of marine animals. The fossil beds can be divided into upper and lower layers.
The upper fossil beds are exposed for all but a few weeks each year. You can observe the remains of crinoids stalks, brachiopod shells, lacy bryozoans and a variety of corals in these strata or layers.
In the late summer and early fall there are almost 200 acres of exposed rock layers that can be explored.

The huge concrete wall that you see is the McAlpine Dam. Its main function is to control water levels for navigation, but its unusual shape, an elongated Z, also provides water for the hydroelectric station and the wetland eco system while keeping the fossil beds visible during periods of low water. All this is accomplished by opening or closing gates in the dam. There are 5 upper spillway gates to your left, under the (1867) railroad bridge, and four lower spillway gates, down river, connecting to the hydroelectric station. Each gate is 22 feet high and 100 feet wide. The dam is over 30 feet high, but looks much smaller because it is about a half a mile away.

The railroad bridge above the dam is also known as The Fourteenth Street Bridge, Ohio Falls Bridge, Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge or the Conrail Railroad Bridge, and is a truss drawbridge that spans the river 100 feet above the fossil beds between Louisville, Kentucky and Clarksville, Indiana. It was built in 1867 and is still very active today.

The craters, or POTHOLES, seen in the fossil bed are formations caused by a whirlpool eroding a hole into the limestone. The abrasion is mainly caused by the circular motion of small sediments such as small stones (glacial till) in the river. The interiors of potholes tend to be smooth and regular with the eroding abrasives (till) trapped inside. Potholes or 'craters' average about 20 inches in diameter and can be two feet or more in depth. There are hundreds of pothole craters on the surface of this 'moonscape'.

The park features an interpretive center situated above the fossil beds containing an exhibit gallery and interactive video displays. The interpretive center is fully wheelchair accessible, although the fossil beds are not. While there is a wheelchair-friendly ramp which leads to an overlook, the spectacular view of the entire area and the Louisville skyline is fully visible from the entrance road or this waypoint.

The park and the fossil beds are open to the public. Please feel free to explore any areas you wish. But also be aware of the dangers (see sign). To hear hydrological information, call 502.775.5056 and listen to the one-minute recording. Enjoy your visit!


This is a WOW! site!
We hope this is a FAVORITE visit!


To get credit for this Earthcache please post a photo of your GPSr and/or yourself (optional) with The Falls in the background. And to demonstrate the educational value of this EC, please email the answers to the following questions:

1. How many species of marine animals are found here?
2. Name two of the fossils you discovered during your visit.
3. Name the two gentlemen in bronze who are shaking hands.

To assist you in identifying the fossils, look


Email answers to:

Do not wait on a reply from me. FOUND IT logs which do not meet requirements will be quietly removed.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Nyy nafjref ner va gur grkg naq bafvgr.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



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