Out of the tub

The Hocking Hills region of southeast Ohio is full of interesting geologic features. One of my favorites is called the Devil’s Bathtub, a tiered waterfall on Old Man’s Creek located between the Upper Falls and Old Man’s Cave on Old Man’s Cave Trail and the subject of my photo of the week.

Water flows over the upper part of the falls and drops into a deep bowl-shaped basin formed by erosion of the sandstone. The water swirls in whirlpool fashion before flowing over a second waterfall into a quiet pool.

The name itself — Devil’s Bathtub — attracts attention. Legend says that the swirling basin of water descends to the gates of Hell. But legend never measured the depth of the water, which is no more than a few feet.

And the name is ironic, in a humorous way. If cleanliness is next to godliness, why would the devil want a bathtub?

I have several photos of the Devil’s Bathtub. Most have been taken from above, either standing on the stone bridge that carries hikers over the basin or from rocks adjacent to the basin, and show the creek flowing into the basin of swirling water. Those photos show the rock formation itself (the “bathtub”).

But I like this photo better. It shows the series of waterfalls and creates a sense of motion through the moss-covered rocks. Fallen autumn leaves add a touch of warm color to the scene.

The swirling “bathtub” is above the lower waterfall, behind the rock wall.

The Devil’s Bathtub in the Hocking Hills is one of two like-named locations in the U.S. The other is in Virginia.

The Hocking Hills is a great area for photography. Its terrain is much different from the mostly flat land in other areas of Ohio. Blame it on the Wisconsin glacier that covered Ohio from 85,000 to 11,000 years ago. It flattened the area, but southeastern Ohio (about an hour’s drive from my house) was outside the glaciation of the ice age and remained ruggedly hilly and forested.

The same glacier that flattened much of Ohio is responsible for creating the Hocking Hills, one of the most geologically unique – and photogenic – areas in Ohio. The ruggedly hilly section of southeastern Ohio features gorges, cliffs, caves and waterfalls created when torrents of water from the melting glacier rushed through that area.

According to Wikipedia: “When the glacial torrents found cracks in the hard capstone, the water poured through to flush out the soft middle layer. This left long tunnels where the gorges are today. Eventually, the weight of the tops caused them to come crashing down. The ‘slump rocks’ in the gorges today are what’s left of the hard top layer. In just a few centuries, the rushing waters of the glacier carved the soft middle layer of sandstone into the myriad dimples and wrinkles that decorate the cliffs and grottos today.”

The waterfalls, deep, rocky gorges and towering, forested hills make Hocking Hills State Park one of my favorite areas for photography. It’s about an hour’s drive from my house, but it’s worth the trip.

Old Man’s Cave Trail, the site of the Devil’s Bathtub, is named for a hermit who lived in the large recess cave in the gorge around 1800. It’s a beautiful gorge that features several large waterfalls, a series of rapids and small waterfalls and the gigantic cave that gave the park its name. The cave is located on a vertical cliff about 75 feet above the stream and measures 50 feet high, 200 feet long and 75 feet deep. The trail, like others in the region, is filled with large slump rocks in and around the stream.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.


Date/time: Nov. 8, 2016, 8:48 a.m.  
Location: 39°26’7” N 82°32’25” W (Show in Google Maps)  
Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II  Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L (200mm) 
Aperture: f/9
Shutter: 1/5th second
ISO: 100