Old Man's Cave is part of the Hocking Hills State Park near Logan, Ohio. The cave is one of Ohio's most popular natural history attractions.
Old Man's Cave is located in a gorge of Black Hand Sandstone. Thousands of years of erosion, principally caused by glaciation and Salt Creek, which flows through the gorge, resulted in the cave. Sandstone is a very porous substance and much more susceptible to erosion than many other types of rocks. While Old Man's Cave is relatively small, the gorge, itself, extends for approximately one-half mile. The gorge also reaches a depth of approximately 150 feet at its deepest point. Various forms of plant life, most notably hemlock, black birch, and Canadian yew, thrive in the gorge.
According to legend, Richard Rowe lived at least briefly in the cave beginning in 1796. He had migrated to Ohio with his family from the Cumberland Mountains in Tennessee. He eventually settled in the Hocking Hills, and he is purportedly buried in the cave. As a result of Rowe's occupancy of the cave, locals named the structure "Old Man's Cave."
Evidence exists that various groups occupied Old Man's Cave well before Rowe arrived. Archaeologists have documented that Indians visited the region perhaps as long as seven thousand years ago. The Shawnee, the Wyandot, and the Delaware Indians all occupied the area at various times in the 1600s and 1700s. Rowe also might not have even been the first white man to visit the cave. It appears that two brothers, Nathaniel and Pat Rayon, arrived in 1795. They built a cabin near Old Man's Cave, and it is rumored that they are buried either in the cave or nearby it.
In 1924, the State of Ohio purchased 146 acres of land in the Hocking Hills. This purchase included Old Man's Cave. First owned and operated by the Ohio Department of Forestry, in 1949, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Division of Parks assumed control of Old Man's Cave.