The New Indian Ridge Museum has acquired an extremely important, locally found, prehistoric American Indian artifact. This Paleo projectile point may be the oldest human artifact to have been found in Elyria, Ohio. It has an exceptional, documented history. This is our second Paleo artifact from Lorain County, Ohio and could date as far back as 15,000 years.
Col. Vietzen operated his Indian Ridge Museum in Elyria from 1930-1995. It was located on a corner of the Vietzen family homestead at the southwest corner of West Ridge and Fowl Roads. In 1931, while digging fish bait to go on a fishing event with his wife, Ruth’s father, his shovel brought a fluted Paleo projectile point into the light – and Vietzen was the first human to touch it in thousands of years.
The Paleo people are believed to be the first people to have come into the Americas, who, as nomadic hunter-gatherers, migrated to this land via a land or ice bridge over what is today the Bering Strait area. The Paleo point or “Clovis point” style is the oldest stone tool type that is found in America, and is attributed to these early people. Not much from their time remains today, save for these stone tools.
View showing near where the Clovis point was found. Note West Ridge Road in the background. Fowl Road’s turning lane and its relatively new sidewalk now occupy a portion of where the Indian Ridge Museum was located. Looking east.
The flint tool was uncovered on a portion of the Vietzen property over which his Museum building eventually expanded. Today, on the southern portion of the road, the right turning lane of Fowl Road and its accompanying sidewalk, now occupy the space on top of which the projectile point was found. The artifact rested in Col. Vietzen’s Paleo display case for the next 64 years, next to a Woolly Mammoth jaw (also from Lorain County) that we also have at the New Indian Ridge Museum. The artifact is of dark Coshocton flint and beautifully fluted. Most likely, it was longer when originally made but was sharpened down in later times through use.
The artifact is attached to a handwritten tag by Col. Vietzen, describing the artifact’s provenance.
The “South Ridge” (now Ohio State Route 113) is located just to the north of this area where the artifact was found, which was at one time the terminus of a much larger version of today’s Lake Erie. Paleo man hunted along this Ridge and just south, taking advantage of the natural offerings from the large and rich East Marsh and natural springs located very nearby the site where Vietzen found the artifact.
This photo from 1976 shows Col. Vietzen’s Paleo display case at his Indian Ridge Museum. The artifact, attached to the provenance card, is noted by the red arrow.
The type-written account below is from Col. Vietzen’s last book, entitled, “Prehistoric Indians from Darkness Into Light” (1995, p. 74) and highlights the background story of this artifact: (click to enlarge)
We thank the Nahorn family in their generosity for aiding in the acquisition of this piece. March 2014.
What and where was the East Marsh?
The East Marsh mentioned above is an important historic and ecological piece of Lorain County history. It was located between West Ridge and Murray Ridge Roads, south of the South Ridge, or Ohio State Route 113. It eventually flowed into the Black River. Today, this area has been cleared and drained and either built upon and developed or is farmed. Today the water in this area drains through the straightened and dredge Haag Ditch. Some individuals have been concerned about flooding issues in this area recently. However, it is important to remember that this area was a rather large marsh or wetland area.
There was also a West Marsh. It was located to the southwest of the East Marsh. Even with its close proximity to the East Marsh, it was in a different watershed. The West Marsh flowed into the easternmost section of the main branch of the Beaver Creek main stem. Just as the East Marsh, the West is largely drained and the land is farmed today. Some remnants remain, and the streams that feed in and out have either been slightly or greatly dredged to increase flow and efficiency in acting to drain the land.
Click Maps to Enlarge:
This detail view from an 1857 Township map for Lorain County shows the locations of the East and West Marshes.
A detail from an 1857 Township map for Lorain County showing the East Marsh.
A detail view from an 1874 Elyria Township Map showing the area where the East Marsh was located. Note the number of “Spring” notations that are marked on the map.
Detail view from an 1896 Elyria Township map showing the Haag Ditch that is still used today to drain the remnants of the East Marsh. Notice the Vietzen name on the map.
A present-day aerial view of the area under scrutiny. This shows the historic location of the East Marsh, prehistoric Lake Whittlesey, and the location where Col. Vietzen found the Clovis point on his property.