Clark County, Ohio

History and Genealogy

Limestone Formation

From 20th Century History of Springfield and Clark County, Ohio by Hon. William A. Rockel
Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1908

The limestone cropping out around the City of Springfield and west along Mad River, and in some other places of the county is what is known as Niagra shale, and constitutes some of the finest building stone and lime to be found anywhere, and in the geological survey of Ohio it is spoken of as follows:

"We come next to what has been denominated the Springfield Stone, viz,: the building-stone courses which form so constant an element in the Niagra rocks of Ohio at this horizon. It is separated from the West Union limestone by a distinct boundary. As this portion of the series is so well developed and exhibited in the Springfield quarries, it seems appropriate to designate it as the Springfield limestone, and this name has accordingly been attached to this division in all portions of Southwestern Ohio in which it is shown. It is a prominent member of the Highland County series, as will be seen in the report of the geology of that county, subserving there the same purpose as a building stone that it does here.

"The Springfield limestone is a magnesian carbonate, containing generally about fifty per cent of carbonate of lime, and forty per cent of carbonate of magnesia. Some of the remaining substances — a small percentage of silica, and also of aluminum — stand in the way of its being burned into an approved lime. There is, however, no uniformity in its composition.

"The prevailing color of this rock in Clark County is a light drab, though several blue courses occur. To the southward, the rock is mainly blue. The desirability of the light-colored stone for fine work is sometimes lessened by faint reddish streaks through its substance.

"The thickness of this division is never more than twenty feet, and seldom exceeds fifteen feet in this portion of the state. At Holcomb's, it is thirteen feet. Like the other members of the series, it expands to the southward, reaching at Hillsboro its maximum in Ohio of forty-five feet.

Beginning in the Springfield quarries at the bottom of the series, we find several heavy courses, from ten to eighteen inches thick, overlying the West Union cliff. These lowest courses are blue in color, and, despite their massive appearances, are generally treacherous as building-stones. Where exposed to the weather, they lose, in a few years, their dressed surfaces, their seams continually widen, and, in a word, they show themselves to be undergoing a state of certain, though slow, disintegration.

"The blue courses generally, even when found above the lowest beds, show the same tendency, and should at least be carefully tested before being used in structures where they can be attacked by atmospheric agencies. The drab courses are almost all durable building stones in all ordinary situations. Making up as they do the bulk of this division, they furnish an invaluable supply of building-stone to Springfield and the adjacent country."

Coal, Oil and Gas

The Carboniferous and Sub-carboniferous formations in Ohio occupy the greater portion of the eastern and southeastern part of the state. Although numerous attempts have been made, no gas or oil has been found in this county in paying quantities.

In 1865 gas was discovered in Pike Township but not in paying quantities. After oil and gas had been discovered in the Lima district in 1884, the matter was again discussed and brought up in our county and Judge Mower and others became interested, and a well in the vicinity of the former one in Pike Township was again sunk, but only what is known as a "pocket" was discovered. This was in 1890.

In 1887, a well was sunk in the old frey stone quarry immediately north of Buck Creek and east of Fountain avenue, and a "pocket" of gas was discovered, probably producing more gas than any other well that had been sank in the county, for some time afterward it was allowed to burn and go to waste, when finally it was pumped into Mr. Frey's house and was for some time used by him for domestic purposes.

In 1892, P. P. Mast sunk a well in the western part of Springfield, and in 1888, William N. Whitely also sunk one near what is now the Foos Gas Engine Works, a few squares east of the C. C. C. & St. L. depot.

Wells have also been sunk near the village of New Carlisle, south of Vienna and west of Brighton, the latter two to the depth of 1,650 feet, but without paying results. When the Mast well was being dug, Dr. Lisle, a chemist of this town, made observations which were the submect of an article in the press at that time from which the following extract is made:

"Dr. Lisle has closely followed the well, and has analyzed the drillings as they have been brought up. He has 225 packages fo them all completely labeled. No small amount of labor is represented in the collecting, and when the tube is filled it will make a valuable study of 'the earth beneath.'"

The first three feet is drift, or ordinary soil, which is followed by 150 feet of Niagra, including about 30 feet of limestone, cap rock, chalk, etc.

The third division is 15 feet of bluish clay. Next is 20 feet of Medina shale of fine reddish structure which rests on Clinton rock. Through this the drill steadily worked its way 175 feet down; then came a deep bed of shales, a fine grained, slaty deposit, and the casing was lowered 769 feet before another solid stratum the well-known Trenton, was reached. This, on thorough penetraiton, was found to be 633 feet thick and here, properly, the search should have ended. The State Geologist says, after long observation, that if Trenton rock does not contain a substance called dolomite, which is composed of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate in equal proportions, there is no gas there. An analysis of the Trenton rock bored through in the Mast well showed that it was composed of 80.84 per cent calcium carbonate, 9.11 magnesium carbonate and the rest insoluble matter. The proportion was convincing as to the absence of gas, but the syndicate was induced to probe further toward the nether regions by the fact that gas was found in the Whiteley gas welll, which was sunk about four years ago until St. Peter's rock was reached. Still no gas. After prodding this solid formation 36 feet further the job was given up.

The salt water was struck at a depth of 1,815 feet. It is decidedly saline. A quantity of white sulphur and drift was precipitated from the sample, and the test naturally showed the presence of sulphureted hydrogen.

At 326 feet an odorless gas was met with, which burned five feet above the casing. At 580 feet another pocket was penetrated.

The temperature at 1,953 feet was 93 2/10 Fahrenheit, which accords with the theoretical rate of increase below the earth's surface.

As was noted above, gas was struck at a depth of 2,000 feet in the Whiteley well. The flow was continuous, but too light for material use, and the well has been plugged up. A depth of 2,533 feet was reached before the drill rested. Gas was first struck at 550 feet in blue shale.

It is curious to note the thickness of the strata. In the Whiteley well the drift was 125 feet deep. West of the city Clinton rock comes to the surface.

The Pettigrew well, which is located in the quarry at the foot of Plum street, was drilled four years ago (1887). It is 1,200 feet in depth, and also yields a light flow which has been found insufficient for use.

The Frey well drilled in Frey's quarry, shortly after the Pettigrew, is perhaps the most important.

A depth of 1,700 feet was reached and salt water encountered. It yields a steady flow, and recent examination shows the pressure to be 185 pounds. Mr. Frey uses it in his residence.

From these observations made by Dr. Lisle, Prof. D. H. Snavely has prepared the following scale of geological formation which by his kind permission is inserted. [To your right]

All of which indicates that there must be gas somewhere in this region. The subject has been one of speculation to geologists. Prof. Geiger says there is gas in Clark County's area and he can locate it on geological principles. He recently proposed to Mr. Mast that he (Prof. Geiger) should select a location, giving satisfactory reasons for doing so. If Mr. Mast should find gas there he should properly remunerate the professor, and if not, the obligation should be annulled. Mr. Mast may yet decide to act upon the proposition. Hitherto the locations of the wells have not been made scientifically and the proceeding outlined above would be watched with interest.