Deep Lock Quarry is part of the Summit County Metro Park system. The park has several historical features of interest: a canal lock, a sandstone quarry, and millstones that were created from the quarried sandstone. Hikers at Deep Lock Quarry can take advantage of two trails in the 73-acre park: the Quarry Trail and the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail (henceforth referred to as the “Towpath Trail”). Both the Cuyahoga Trail and the Buckeye Trail overlap the Towpath Trail and continue beyond the park boundaries. In addition the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic railroad passes through the park.
Surprisingly the quarry and the millstones fashioned from its sandstone tie into the history of oatmeal. Oatmeal was introduced into the United States by Ferdinand Schumacher, also known as the Oatmeal King. His oatmeal helped to feed the Union troops during the Civil War. In 1879 this same Ferdinand Schumacher bought part of the quarry now located within this park to create millstones for his Akron company, the American Cereal Works. In 1901 Schumacher’s American Cereal Works merged with three other cereal mill companies to become Quaker Oats. In the early twentieth century, Quaker Oats provided more jobs for the residents of Akron, Ohio than any other single company. However Quaker Oats closed its Akron facility in 1970. The massive complex of grain silos that used to belong to the company were converted into a… wait for it… hotel! In 2007 the hotel, originally named the Crowne Plaza Quaker Square hotel, and later the Quaker Square Inn, was purchased by the University of Akron. By 2013 the university finished converting the hotel into a residence hall for its students.
The walk to the quarry was downright pleasant. The trail was shaded, wide, and well-tended. On a photo of the trail map for the park below, I traced our hike in yellow (click the image to enlarge). We followed the leftmost branch on our way to the quarry. Although at first glance the topmost part of the trail looks like a loop, it isn’t.
There is a clearing in front of the quarry with a bench and a stack of stones that were quarried from this site.
It is possible to climb onto the quarried ledges. It kind of felt like standing on a stage.
If you are wondering if it is possible to get up on top of the quarry rim, the answer is “yes,” but you have to walk the entire length of the “pseudo-loop” at the northern end of the Quarry Trail to reach the rim. There is something that resembles a steep, dilapidated trail that can be seen to the side of the trail near the quarry; however, it isn’t really a trail.
Up on the rim there is a sign reminding you to return by retracing your path. However if you look around on the way back, you’ll see additional quarried “steps” that are in the process of being swallowed up by the forest.
On our way back we saw a footpath that was not shown on the park’s map, but which connects the Quarry Trail to the Towpath Trail. I depicted the connector footpath with a dashed yellow line on the map appearing earlier.
In addition to being used for millstones, the Berea sandstone cut from the site’s quarry was used in the construction of buildings in the Akron and Cleveland area, plus it was used in the construction of locks all along the Ohio & Erie Canal. One such lock is within the park, “Lock Number 28.” The locks were built to help boats manage changes in elevation that occur throughout the course of the canal. As it turns out, Summit County was named “Summit” because this area marks the highest elevation through which the Ohio & Erie Canal passed. Most locks on the Ohio & Erie Canal were built to accommodate changes in elevation of about nine feet. However Lock 28 facilitates a change in elevation of 17 feet, so Lock 28 came to be known as Deep Lock.
Looking down the Towpath Trail from Deep Lock, we could see a tunnel that passes underneath the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic railroad. We haven’t gone on this railroad yet, but I’ve heard that you can ride your bike down the Towpath Trail till you’re tired out, and then catch a train back to your starting point.
We walked across the bridge shown to the right in the above photo. This put us on a short trail back to the parking lot. We both enjoyed our spring visit to Deep Lock Quarry Park.
- TrekOhio: Summit County Parks & Nature Preserves — This is the county where the park is located. You can find a link to the park’s official site on this page, and you can learn about nearby parks and preserves.
- Wikipedia: Summit County, Ohio — explains why Summit County is called summit.
- Wikipedia: Ferdinand Schumacher — The Oatmeal King
- Wikipedia: Quaker Square — complex that includes the silos turned into a residence hall
- Wikipedia: Ohio and Erie Canal
- Ohio Histroy Central: Ohio and Erie Canal
- Ohio History Central: Berea Sandstone
- Ohio Histroy Central: Grindstones — Surprisingly, fashioning grindstones out of sandstone was a very dangerous occupation. As fine particles of sand filled the air, workers breathed it in and occasionally suffocated; this was referred to as “grindstone consumption”.
- Address: 5779 Riverview Rd., Peninsula, Ohio 44264.
- GPS Coordinates: 41.229992, -81.554003
- Google Maps: View on map or get directions
More on Ohio's Industrial History
7 thoughts on “Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park”
My son and I were up there this past weekend walking the deep lock quarry trails and I looked down at what looked like a contact lens on the ground. It ended up being an 1850 dime called the Seated liberty Half Dime.
It was so cool to think of the history of that dime.
What a great find! And you’re right about how it makes you think back to the time it was newly minted.
Great post! Can you bring dogs?
Brett, I stopped by the official page for the park, and under “Amenities” it said that the park “Pet-friendly”, so it looks like you can bring your dog.
Quite the gem of a park within a park. We detoured into the quarry park while birding the Towpath. I love local history and sandstone quarries are a favorite of mine. Does anybody know where I can get a “key” to the red and white sticks near some of the artifacts?
Interesting history about Quaker Oats Co. My dad worked in their research dept. in IL for 25 years. He never understood why I didn’t like oatmeal… 🙂
Karen, how ironic that you don’t care for oatmeal! I love the stuff. And I like learning stuff about our early, industrial period, so this was a fun park for me. 😀