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Transcription contributed by Arne H Trelvik 23 June, 2003

The History of Warren County Ohio
Part III. The History of Warren County by Josiah Morrow
Chapter IX. Physiography and Antiquities
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)


There are no very high elevations and few rugged hills in Warren County, but the surface is far from being a level plain. the southwestern corner of the county is but thirteen miles in a direct line from the Ohio River at Cincinnati, yet the broken and hilly surface characteristic of the Ohio River counties is not found even in the southern part of Warren. The county is generally well drained, and on its first settlement only limited areas were too wet to be speedily brought under cultivation. The greater part of the county is drained by the Little Miami. This stream, which has a general direction southward, makes its most important deflection in this county, and flows due west for eight miles. Warren Holds more of the river’s course than any other county. About one-third of the surface is drained into the Great Miami, chiefly by means of Clear Creek and Dick’s Creek. The two Miamis are but twelve miles apart, measured on a line from Franklin to Waynesville, this being their nearest approach to each other.

Although the county is comparatively near the majestic Ohio, it cannot be said to slope toward that river; in fact, the surface has no general slope in any direction. Important streams are found running toward every point of the compass. Turtle Creek and Muddy Creek, which drain a considerable portion of three townships, and have their sources sixteen miles apart, flow toward each other for nearly their entire courses, and before the two stream are deflected to enter the Little Miami, they approach within half a mile of each other.

The water-shed between the two Miamis passes from the northern boundary through the highlands about Raysville southward to the vicinity of Utica, thence westward to Red Lion, thence southwestward through the Shaker lands into Butler County. This water-shed is not a ridge, but a range of high land, frequently level. What was formerly known as the Shaker Swamp was found on this water-shed. The parting line of the waters passes not far to the west of the southwestern corner of the county, and in the vicinity of Socialville the lands have an elevation of 500 feet above the Ohio and 200 feet above the elevation of Lebanon.

In the southeastern part of the county is found a part of an extended flat-lying tract which takes in a part of Clermont, Clinton, Brown and Highland, the surface of which is almost a dead level, and which originally constituted an area of white-oak swamps. The swamps of Harlan retarded the settlement of that township for many years. They have now been mostly drained, but the descent from them is so slight that there are localities in which the water can be taken with nearly equal facility in different directions. A post office and railway station in this region have been appropriately named Level. The flat-lying tracts of Warren County, however, are only the beginnings of an extensive region, and do not constitute any large proportion of the territory of the county.

An interesting feature of the topography of the county is a broad valley of alluvial lands stretching from the little Miami at South Lebanon to the

Great Miami at Middletown. Through this valley, the lower part of Turtle Creek and Muddy Creek find their way into the Little Miami and Dick’s Creek into the Great Miami. The old Warren County Canal followed this depression as was without any intermediate locks from Middletown to within three miles of Lebanon. The probable union of the two Miamis by means of this ancient channel has been suggested by geologists. Dr. John Locke, in the report of the first Ohio Geological Survey, wrote as follows in describing the view from a hill overlooking this valley:

“This hill commands an extensive view of the fertile valley of Dick’s Creek and its contiguous hills to the westward. Southwardly it looks quite across the valley to Monroe, which is four miles distant on the opposite side of it. It was in June, and the whole earth was a garden of verdure. The valley of Dick’s Creek has an exceedingly fertile soil, black alluvion, extending in a plain quite across it. It produces fine grass and corn, but is almost too strong for wheat. how so small a rivulet as Dick’s Creek could have excavated a valley 300 feet deep and three or four miles wide – a valley sufficient for the majestic Ohio itself, is a geological problem which I am unable to solve. Did the Little Miami ever pass in this direction? The canal now building from the Miami Canal to Lebanon through this valley might seem an absurd undertaking; but to open a conveyance for the produce of such a region is well worth the enterprise, independent of the interests of the thriving town at its terminus.”

Prof. Orton thinks the two rivers were once united by means of this ancient channel, there being no rocky barriers in the way. Either the Little Miami held the western direction, which it now has, from Morrow to Deerfield, or, as is more probable, the valley of the Great Miami was opened out by glacial erosion southeastwardly to the Little Miami, the direction in which glacial action has been most conspicuous in Southwestern Ohio.

The lowest land in the county is the bed of the Little Miami at Loveland, which is about 125 feet above low-water at Cincinnati. The railroad at the same point is about thirty feet above the bed of the river. The water-shed between the Miamis, near the northern boundary of the county, holds the highest land, which is about 625 feet above the Ohio at Cincinnati. From the lowest to the highest land there is, therefore, a vertical section of 500 feet. The highest lands in the county are believed to lie nearly midway between Ridgeville and Raysville.

A hill one mile east of Utica, on the farm of William Morris, is interesting from the fact that near its summit is the highest point of contact between the Upper and the Lower Silurian systems observed by Prof. Orton, and from this point was determined for the geological survey the dip of the blue limestone strata in various directions. According to Prof. Orton’s measurement, with the aneroid barometer, the point of contact between the two systems on this hill is 574 feet above the Ohio, the summit of the hill being 595 feet. According to the same authority, the altitude of the upper limit of the blue limestone series on Spring Hill, is 572, or only two feet lower than that found on the Morris hill.

The following table of elevations is the most complete one for the county ever published. For the purposes of comparison, the elevations of several points in adjoining counties are given. On account of their peculiar interest, the elevations of important points along the whole line of the Cincinnati Northern Railway, from Cincinnati to Waynesville, are given. Elevations found by railroad surveys are much more reliable than those taken from the geological report, which were obtained by use of the aneroid barometer. It should be remembered, however, that railroads and canals usually seek the lines of lowest

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Samuel Harris

level, especially in crossing water-shed, and they, therefore, do not fairly represent the variations of altitude in the country through which they pass. It may here be stated that the highest and the lowest land in Ohio are found in the Miami Valley, the latter being at the mouth of the Great Miami, the former in Logan County and measuring 1,540 feet above the level of the sea.

In the following table, all measurements are computed from low-water at Cincinnati, which is 441 feet above the ocean and 134 feet above Lake Erie, according to Col Whittlesey. By adding to the figures in the table 441 feet, therefore, the elevation above the sea will be obtained, and, by subtracting 134 feet, the elevation above Lake Erie will be obtained:

Elevations above Low Water at Cincinnati
Bed of Little Miami River at Loveland 125
Railroad track at Loveland 154
Spence's Station, M. & C. R. R. 388
Morrow 200
Lebanon, public schoolhouse lot 315
Mason 387
Franklin, canal lock 248
Spring Hill, Washington Township 600
Raysville, highest point on railroad from Dayton to Cincinnati 607
Warren and Montgomery County line on T., D. & B. R. R. 584
T. D. & B. R. R. Crossing of Ridgeville and Waynesville pike 514
Utica Station 534
Rock Schoolhouse, three miles southeast of Lebanon 485
Blanchester 538
Bethel, Clermont County 490
Middletown, canal level 211
Hamilton, canal basin 169
Spring Valley 333
Xenia 491
Wilmington 551

Cincinnati Northern Railway
[The number of each stake multiplies by 100 gives the distance in feet from Court street, Cincinnati.]

  No. of Stake Elevation
Court street, Cincinnati 0 105
Effluent Pipe street 30 178
Eden Park entrance 47 234
McMillan street 82 354
Cincinnati & Eastern Railroad junction 202 260
Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad junction 292 185
Montgomery pike 480 398
Jones & Dashin's 507 439
Hamilton and Butler County line 880 448
Butler and Warren County line 948 500
Summit on Ross farm 960 519
J. Milton Thompson's farm 986 496
J. L. Thompson's farm 1014 467
Mason 1,155 387
Lebanon Pike, Hageman's 1,336 240
Muddy Creek 1,374 232
Lebanon pike (Avoca) 1,439 247
Foot of Broadway, Lebanon 1,578 270
Main street crossing, Lebanon 1,610 305
Crossing of Waynesville pike 1,716 458
L. D. William's farm 1,804 551
Waynesville, High street 2,180 290

FOOTNOTES: [a place to add additional information that you might want to submit]


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This page created 23 June, 2003 and last updated 6 November, 2005
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