Leo Petroglyph – Ray, Ohio - Atlas Obscura
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Ray, Ohio

Leo Petroglyph

A slab of sandstone covered with mysterious 1,000-year-old rock carvings from a vanished North American culture. 

Some of the best-preserved rock art in Ohio is scrawled across an otherwise ordinary hunk of rock. The figures, an eclectic blend of straightforward designs and abstract creatures, preserve traces of a vanished Native American culture.

Nearly 40 images, collectively known as the Leo Petroglyph, are etched into the large slab of sandstone. Scanning the chunk of rock reveals familiar subjects like birds, fish, footprints, and stick figure humans. Other more abstract designs, including one that looks like a cartoon man with horns, are scattered within the mix as well.

It’s thought that people from the Fort Ancient culture made the petroglyph, though it’s unclear why or exactly when. The best guess is that people began carving the mysterious designs into the flat sandstone canvas about 1,000 years ago.

The petroglyph was originally found along the edge of a sandstone hillside that loomed above a gorge. The rock was carefully extracted and relocated to its current spot, where it lies protected from the elements beneath a shelter. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

There’s a short nature trail beginning at the shelter, which descends into a small gorge with bedrock overhangs, almost certainly shelter for early humans. It’s well worth it to check out the path.

Know Before You Go

Most GPS will get you directly to the site with the address provided. There are clear signs on Route 28 directing you to the site. There is ample parking, and some picnic tables. A visit in the rain is the best, as no one else will be there, but you'll be able to see how the water drains over the rock overhangs and down into the small gorge.