Buffalo Wallow On Pancake Trail

By Emmett A. Conway, Sr., The Olde Forester

While watching a movie on African animals, they showed a water buffalo rolling in a wallow which reminded me of a reported buffalo wallow northwest of Jackson, Ohio, on one of the SALT TRACES leading to the SALT SPRINGS ON SALT LICK CREEK.

The Buffalo Wallow had been shown to me by to old timers of Jackson County, the late James J. McKitterick and Estel Dempsey.  Both of these men were keen observers of nature and historical lore.  Further they were extremely well acquainted with land features, being farmers, geologist, mining engineer, orchardist and had been public officials at one or more times.

It was probably in the late 1970's when I  took them on a drive around Jackson County on an outing so that they could show me features of the landscape and enjoy their good fellowship.  It was a rare day for me and  enjoyed by them as well.

 Jim McKitterick was a mining engineer who knew the mineral resources of Jackson, Pike and Vinton Counties as no other person.  He had explored, tested and developed the silica pebble business in western Jackson and eastern Pike County beyond Big Rock.  Estel was an orchardist in southern Jackson County.  Estel had been reared on Pine Ridge  beyond the Leo Petroglyph and somewhere near Buffalo Hollow. We had driven past his old homeplace that day.

While talking about Indian and Buffalo Trails, they asked me if I knew where the buffalo wallow was located.  I said, "No, let's go there. You lead the way."

We found the Wallow using the directions sited at end of article.

The WALLOW was said to be the muddy depression on this high ridge on the north side of the present road. I could see that it fit the descriptions I had read in the National Geographic and elsewhere.   To the unimaginative, it was just a shallow muddy pond along the ridge road; but why and how it came to be requires contemplation.

Lo and behold a muddy mule was standing in the wallow and must have surely been imitating the buffalo of long ago. It probably felt  good to its hide as well as it did to the buffalo.  I took a picture of the place which is in my collection of slides related to the Scioto Salt Works.

Estel Dempsey remarked that he had spent considerable time in the western U.S. and had seen wallows used by buffalo for getting caked with mud in wet times and with dust in dry times.  It was explained in the TV show on Africa that each time the animal went  away, it carried mud with it from the hole, thus enlarging the wallow.

 The BUFFALO WALLOW ON THE OVERLY ROAD in Section 2, Jackson Township, Pike County, is important because it is believed that this road is AN ANCIENT SALT TRAIL CALLED THE "PANCAKE TRAIL".

I believe that the name given to this trail comes from one of the early settlers named "Pancake". This needs to be researched.

It is obvious that the route would provide a direct trail from Higby--known on the Louis Evans Map of 1755, as "HURRICAN TOM'S TOWN." See the publication about "Where Was Hurrican Tom's Town" by the cartographer of the William Clemens Historical Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.  I was given a copy of this as an excerpt from an English publication by the author when visiting in 1989.

The trail from Higby located on the dogleg of the Scioto River south of Richmondale below Chillicothe would  be a parallel route from the Chillicothe region and points westerly to the Salt Springs or passing it towards the Kanawha River and the SE US.

One Salt Road, now replaced by US Rt. 35, persisted while the parallel route which left  Chillicothe on the south side of the Scioto River, has been long abandoned.  This is presumed to be the PANCAKE TRAIL.

The PANCAKE TRAIL could have been a very important Indian and game trail from the Scioto Valley to the Salt Springs and the Southeastern U.S.  It has all the characteristics of an ancient and proven game and Indian Trace.

I  believe that I found where the trail leaves the Scioto Valley and ascends Weddington Hill. It does not have the appearance of a wagon road, but that of a footpath.

From Higby or Hurrican Tom's Town on the west side of the Scioto at the dogleg, it would have crossed the often-flooded bottoms which are  fully two miles across.  Someplace I have read or seen a map of a fording on the Scioto.  The Richmondale Topographic map shows two existing farm roads going southeasterly across the bottoms from the River Road through Higby.  This is Virginia Military Survey Land and the trails reflect the typical river bottom property lines at right angle to the river.

The CRUCIAL ASCENT OF THE TRAIL TO WEDDINGTON HILL was found by me, I believe, by guesswork which lead to good evidence in the existence of a worn down path to the ridge and , very excitingly,

My guess was that the Overly Road with the buffalo wallow was the trail known as the Pancake Trail.  It fits the criteria of direct, level and dry for long distances.

Only by Weddington Hill Ridge  can you maintain the shortest way toward Hurrican Tom's Town and the south side of the Scioto.

One day I parked on the east road about 3/4  mile above the mouth of Hay Hollow and Carr's Run  at the first indentation in the steep faces along the valley.  There were three houses in the mouth of this small hollow or cove.

To my surprise and pleasure, there is an easy ascent and a path up the point north of the last house.  This is a knife-like lower ridge at this point.  The path continues gradually to the highest point of Weddington Hill going from 600 ft. elevation to about 1,000 ft above sea level.

The PANCAKE TRAIL, I found, begins in the NW 1/4 of Section 25, Jackson Township, Pike County.

As best I know at the present time and unconfirmed, the trail follows Weddington Hill through Sections 25,24, the SW corner of Sec. 23 to a FIVEPOINTS JUNCTION in the NW 1/4 of Sec. 30 where the road from Hay Hollow and one from Hickson Run meet with others.  To get to the Buffalo Wallow one stays on the high ridge through Sec. 31 and crossing the survey township line between T6  and T7, Range 20, Congress Lands East of the Scioto, for precise reference.  The Overly Ridge Road and probably the Pancake Trail runs from the northwest corner  of Section 2,T6,R20, to the southeast corner passing the Buffalo Wallow on the way.  This is a CLASSIC SECTION OF AN ANCIENT SALT ROAD.

Looking at the topographic map for the continuance toward the Salt Springs from the Buffalo Wallow, it is my guess that the animals and Indians would have continued  on a straight line through the north half of Section 12 to the present crossroads just north of BIG ROCK.  The current road goes west along the Jackson Lake and then turns sharply northward up the hill through sand and gravel pits.  This is a road of convenience for the settlers and wouldn't have been of interest to animals and Indians.  There is a long tapering point going in the right direction--southeast  toward the Springs.

Furthermore, there is a natural lowgap where the county road goes east on the north side of BIG ROCK.  This leads to the Pigeon Creek crossing where you ascend the ridge toward Oakland and on into Jackson on what the 1799 Plat calls, "THE ROAD TO PEEPEE."

THE PANCAKE TRAIL, if it is as described above, has all the classic features of an ancient established footpath, both for migratory animals and humans--continuing into the settlement period.

FURTHERMORE facing the Scioto Valley bottoms I found THREE SIGNAL BOWLS when I explored the ascent from the 600 foot level to the ridge top at 1,000 feet. THEY FACE THE HARNESS WORKS!

This fact, if confirmed as SIGNAL BOWLS, could make the PANCAKE TRAIL one of the most interesting to explore, especially from the Scioto River southeasterly to the Buffalo Wallow and Big Rock( a famous landmark of an isolated rock bluff or mesa).

The three SIGNAL BOWLS, very cleverly, were at different elevations as one ascends the bluff.  The first was at about 700 feet elevation from which one could view across the valley to Hurrican Tom's Town and up and down the east valley road.

The second bowl was almost, I believe, at the 900 ft. elevation, giving one a view across the big curve of the valley between Richmondale and Higby and extending northwest past the bluffs at Rittenours where the hang gliders soar and on up the Highbanks where the famous HARNESS EARTHWORKS OF THE HOPEWELL INDIANS was located.  The SALT ROAD FROM CHILLICOTHE TO THE SALT SPRINGS, according to the survey records was where it is now located (U. S. Rt. 35).

 A THIRD SIGNAL BOWL was found still higher at the 1,000 ft. elevation.  I can't say what you can see from this signal station, but it is likely that Rattlesnake Knob is visible; as well as, the SIGNAL BOWL IF FOUND ON THE RIDGE EAST OF ORR'S CROSSROAD, between Brown Hollow Road and True Hollow Road.
Location of the Buffalo Wallow:

On page 282 under a chapter on "Description of Triangulation Stations of the Columbus Arc,  Sandusky to Portsmouth", Ohio 1928- 1929, Principal Points are described where towers were erected on the highest hills for HORIZONTAL CONTROL IN OHIO,, CGS TRIANGULATION, it is called in civil engineering. 

From the Overly 100 foot tower, they could sight to six other triangulation stations on high hills; e.g. Rattlesnake Knob east of Chilliicothe at Jones Crossroad.  Each of these stations is marked with a bronze marker and the USGS topographic maps show the site with a small triangle.

The location of the OVERLY TOWER is described as follows: 
 "OVERLY (Pike County, Omega, Ohio).  About 6 mi. N. and 1 mi. E. of Beaver, 2 1/2 mi. W. and 3/4 mi. S. of Limerick, on the highest part of Overly Hill, on land owned by Albert and James Overly, and immediately in front of a small new house.  Station is about 10 meters S. of a road, and 15 meters E. of a large apple tree.  Notes 1a and 7a.  Best reached from Waverly by road to Omega, thence S.E. short distance to road  leading to right over Scioto River to T-Intersection.  Keep left hand road in an easterly direction to the Hay Hollow Rd. leading S.E.  Follow main road to fork at a small church.  Keep right about 1 mi. and turn E. 1/2 mi. to station.

R.M.'s Note 11a
100-ft. steel tower used.
is on the Overly Road, Section 2, Jackson Township, Pike County.  It is approximately 0.5 miles west of the county line and about the same distance east of Allen Chapel.  The chapel is in the northwest corner of Section 2. The wallow is .3 mile east of the junction of the Walker Ridge Road and the Overly Road.

 A USGS Bench Mark, shown on the topographic map, is on the south side of the county road.  It is a concrete post  set in the ground with a bronze plaque on which the number 1928 is written along with the name, "United States Geodetic Survey".Footnote#1.
Footnote #1.  A 1933 publication of the Ohio State University Press by C.E. Sherman, C.E., Inspector  of the survey for the State of Ohio.


Return to Native American Indians

image hiking boots

Return to The Olde Forester

Webmaster: Daughter Sandra Conway Morrissey