It is our goal and mission to provide the opportunity for people of all ages to increase their understanding of the natural environment of Northwest Ohio and to interact with their fellow inhabitants in a sustainable manner.
History of The Quarry Farm
If you are from or live near Putnam County, you may have picked up a Quarry Farm brochure at the Ottawa Farmer’s Market, the Blanchard River Art Guild holiday event or the Putnam County Master Gardeners’ Garden Fair. Maybe you’ve held a dragonfly nymph during a Quarry Farm county fair demonstration or in a classroom. Or perhaps you created a lasting leaf at one of the teacher workshops that we presented in partnership with the Ohio State University at Lima, The Lima News, Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Maybe you have done all these things, yet you still ask, “Just what is the Quarry Farm anyway?”
Several small quarries along Riley Creek near Bluffton were operated in the late 19th and early 20th Century for flagstone and lime burning. The Sackett family ran such a business in the floodplain southeast of the mouth of Cranberry Run where it enters Riley Creek. Their quarrying operation hit multiple springs that forced the business to relocate upstream.
Everett Seitz and his family lived in a house on the upland north of the flooded quarry pit. After fire claimed his house in the early 1940s, Everett’s brother Carl, and his wife, Joyce, bought the 50 acres that encompassed the old quarry and the two homesteads. Carl pastured Jersey calves there. The waters of the old quarry and Cranberry Run became popular fishing spots. “Families came there to fish and picnic on the spit of land between the quarry and the stream,” remembers Joyce. ” There was a willow that grew almost parallel to the quarry. Big fish gathered there. The water was deep, especially the northeast corner.”
In the 1950s, Cranberry Run was dredged and straightened in a government effort to abate flooding in Allen and Putnam Counties. This caused increased flooding and extensive erosion that filled in much of the old quarry with sediment.
In the early 1970s, Gerald and Laura (Seitz) Coburn bought the Quarry Farm, as the Seitz family had come to call the place. They began restoring the stream’s riparian corridor, the floodplain and woodland and maintained it as a retreat and nature preserve. Today, family members and friends continue to operate the Quarry Farm with the same mission in mind. Several distinct habitats have flourished and are home to native mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and plants as well as native and migratory birds and insects.
The quarry suffered from the 1960s dredging, as well as from another round in the early 1980s, but it is still a wetland that houses birds, reptiles, amphibians and rare plants. Because of the healthy tree growth on its banks, Cranberry Run flows clear most of the year to the point of offering a clear plume of water to Riley Creek north of the Quarry Farm.
In 1996, Gerald Coburn purchased a c.1853 cabin in West Virginia and, piece by piece, relocated it to the Quarry Farm. The organic gardens of Red Fox Cabin are alive with butterflies and beneficial insects. The cabin serves as a visitors and conference center for public educational workshops and school tours. Although the Quarry Farm Nature Preserve and Conservation Farm is closed to hunting and is currently only open to visitors by appointment only, the board of directors is working to establish public access hours for hiking and educational events.
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