|Location:||722 Ohio State Route 568. 15 km east of Findlay, 6 km west of Carey.|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Guided tours:||D=60 min.|
|Accessibility:||both caves have several staircases.|
Kenneth B. Tankersly, Brian G. Redmond (200):
Ice Age Ohio,
Archaeology, Nov/Dec 2000, p 42-.
|Address:||Indian Trail Caverns In., P.O. Box 127, Vanlue, Ohio 45890, Tel: +1-419-387-7773. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1927||opened to the public.|
|1989||Sheriden Cave discovered.|
|1990||excavated by the palaeontologist H. Gregory McDonald from the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History.|
|1995||end of excavations.|
The Indian Trail Caverns is located in an area where caves seem rather unlikely. The north-central part of Ohio is flat and featureless, the plain is covered by fertile fields where corn, soybeans, wheat, and alfalfa is grown. The cave is located in a shallow ridge of dolomite which is karstified and has numerous caves. The caves were formed by the melting water of the glaciers which covered the area during the last glacials. One of those caves was discovered in 1927 after an earthquake which caused a part of the ceiling to collapse. The owner of the land developed the cave and opened it to the public later the same year. From then this show cave is operated by the family until it finally closed in 2018.
Although the cave was closed before, it had numerous natural entrances which were later sealed. Long ago it was used by Wyandot Indians, the Indian Council Chamber has cave drawings on the ceiling and their remains were found during archaeological excavation. This was the reason why this cave was named Indian Trails, it was part of a network of caves visited by the Native Americans. They used ladders to enter the cave and natural skylights provided light and were used as smoke holes.
The cave tour also includes nearby Sheriden Cave, which was discovered in 1989. The owner of the cave, Dick Hendricks, speculated that the shallow depression could be a continuation of his show cave and started to excavate it. At the bottom of a sinkhole he found a cave passage, named Sheriden Cave after the former owner of the ground, which was filled with Ice Age deposits. The cave sediments contained the bones of more than 70 species, many of them are now extinct. The result of the scientific research were insights into the climate changes during the last glacial. An the excavation of the sediments revealed that the two cave are actualy the same cave. The conection was blocked by the sediment, but now both caves are connected again.
Excavations revealed the remains of many extinct Late Pleistocene animals, including what is called Megamammals. Those animals, for example giant beaver, stag moose, flat-headed and long-nosed peccary, and short-faced bear, were much bigger than todays animals. They are from a time 13,000 to 12,000 BP, when the area was spruce and pine parklands with open grassland.
Beneath the animal bones, the remains of man was discovered too. The Paleo-Indian tools, like projectile points and scrapers, are evidence of the earliest-known human activity in this region. A small band of hunters used the cave temporarily as hunting ground and shelter. The were nomadic and stopped here regularly on their seasonal rounds.