Flint, a variety of quartz, is a hard and durable mineral. This was known to William Shakespeare when he wrote Romeo and Juliet, and it was known to American Indians who were making tools from flint at the same time. Flint can be worked into a variety of forms, and its surfaces will take a high polish. Small amounts of impurities commonly give a wide variety of colors to flint: red, pink, green, blue, yellow, gray, white, black. Some combinations of these colors in a piece of flint are considered to be very attractive. American Indians, both before and after European contact, used flint to make a wide variety of tools, weapons and ceremonial pieces. Skilled workers started with coarse pieces of flint and fashioned such implements as knives, scrapers, projectile points and pipes. Later, early American settlers used flint for various objects such as millstones and rifle flints. Today, artists use flint extensively in making attractive pieces of jewelry. In 1965, the Ohio General Assembly named flint Ohio’s official gemstone.
This 'Flint Ridge' must have been as valuable to the Indians...as the coal and iron mines of Ohio and Pennsylvania are to the white men of the present day.
Henry Howe, 1888
In Ohio, flint occurs in nodules or beds in Devonian limestones and particularly in Pennsylvanian limestones. It is thought that the silica was derived from the siliceous spicules of sponges. The most conspicuous bed of flint is associated with the Pennsylvanian-age Vanport limestone at Flint Ridge in Licking and Muskingum Counties. Although most flint is gray or black in color, Flint Ridge flint is characterized by its light color with hues of red, green, yellow, and other colors. Flint was quarried by American Indian peoples in the region, and used for spear points, knives, scrapers, and other functional and ceremonial objects. Today, collectors polish Ohio flint into colorful jewelry.
The quarries and displays of Flint Ridge flint are visible today at Flint Ridge State Memorial.