A Geologic Interpretation of Dover, Ohio

     In 1806 Christian Deardorff and Jesse Slingluff purchased 2,175 acres of land in the western frontier.  They only paid about $4,600 for this land that would become Dover in the future state of Ohio.  In 1808 Dover became part of TuscarawasCounty, the 27th county in the new state of Ohio.  By the 1820 census Dover had a generous population of 46 people.  However, things began to change for Dover in the mid 1820’s when the Ohio Erie Canal was carved along side the TuscarawasRiver.  When the canal was built Dover set up a tolling station and was the only tolling station on the canal in TuscarawasCounty. Dover’s population began to grow with the canal and by the 1840’s Dover was a milling center.  At this time Dover became know as Canal Dover.  This name lasted until 1915, and then it simply became Dover.  The village was incorporated in 1842; however the charter was permitted to lapse.  Dover became a rail stop in 1854 and by the mid 1850’s it had become a steel center.

     In 1867 Dover opened its first steel rolling mill.  That was also the year Dover once again became incorporated as a village and instated an official government.  J.E. Reeves bought the steel rolling mill in 1882 and started building Reeves Steel. Mr. Reeves and Reeves Steel greatly impacted the growth of Dover and the County.  During 1889 Dover’s Water Works was established.  Since Dover’s water remained untreated in any way until 1998, it was the last city east of the Mississippi to sterilize its water before distribution.  Then in 1898 Dover made a risky move when voters approved a $5000 bond to construct an electric generating plant.  This facility is still in operation today and serves over 6000 residents plus commercial and industrial customers. At the turn of the century, December 6, 1901, Dover became incorporated as a city.  The Dover Dam was built north of Dover on the TuscarawasRiver in 1945 to control water levels. This dramatically decreased the amount of flooding in the area. By this time the old Ohio Erie Canal was no longer used and had fallen in disrepair.  Some of it has even been filled in by development.

     Since the 1940’s and ‘50’s not much has changed in the city of Dover.  The few changes that have been made are just superficial improvements to older buildings and expansion.  The main expansion of the city has been to the north.  This includes new commercial and residential areas.  Today Dover has a population of 13,570 and covers an area of about 5.18 square miles.   

    The major enterprises in the area are farming and industry.   The major industries in the area include; stone-clay-glass, metals, machinery manufacturing, rubber, chemicals, food stuffs, centrifugal castings, conveyors, hand tools , ventilating fans, dairy products and clay.  Farming mainly produces dairy products, cash grains and livestock for sale.  Some of the major crops are corn, wheat, soy beans, oats, hay, vegetables and fruit.  Aside from farming, one of the major land uses in the area is woodlands.  There are also many strip mines in the area.

     Dover is roughly located at 40o30’ North latitude by 81o30’ West longitude and is inside of DoverTownship.  It covers the four corners where the Dover, Stone Creek, New Philadelphia, and Sugar Creek quadrangles meet. Interstate 77 travels north and south along the western edge of town.  U.S. 250 as well as State Routs 800, 211, 39, and 516 travels through Dover.  To the west and the south west of town are strip mines.  Almost directly west of town is my house (see Map of Dover Area).  It is located on the other side of Interstate 77 from Dover and on the western side of the Sugar Creek which parallels the highway for most of the north south length of Dover.  At 40o30’ 26” N by 81o30’21” W in the Strasburg quadrangle there is a mine dump.  This could potentially cause problems such as acid mine drainage.  To the far south west area of the township there are two oil wells.  These area approximately located at 40o29’15” N by 81o33’ W and at 40o29’ N by 81o33’15” W in the Stone Creek quadrangle.  To the south and south east are mainly hills with little or no strip mining.  The eastern and northern areas of the township have a lot of strip mining activity. There are two gas wells located north to northwest along Wooster Avenue. The two gas wells area located in the Strasburg quadrangle 40o34’45” N by 81o30’30” W and at 40o34’ N by 81o30’15” W.  There is also a very large strip mining operation to the North West of Dover.

     The topography of Dover is gently rolling hills.  Dover sits at an elevation of about 900 feet above mean sea level. The area close to the river dips down to a little under 880 feet in elevation.  The surrounding hills of rise to and average of 1100 feet in elevation with some peaks north of Dover reaching more then 1260 feet above mean sea level. The lowest surveyed point in the Dover area is a Bench Mark at 874 feet in elevation and is located at 40o31’30” N by 81o28’30” W in the Dover quadrangle. The highest surveyed point in the Dover area is located in the same quadrangle at 40o34’45” N by 81o28’30” W with an elevation of 1263 feet.

     Dover is unglaciated and is with in the western part of the Allegheny Plateau.  However, sand and gravel outwash from the Wisconsin Age can be found in the valleys of the TuscarawasRiver and the Sugar Creek.  The bedrock that supports these rivers and underlies the area is from the Pennsylvanian system.  Allegheny, Pottsville and Conemaugh bedrock formations are exposed in the area.  The Allegheny formations make up the majority of the exposed bedrock.  The exposure of the Pottsville formation is contained mainly in the area of the old Dover-NewarkRiver valley (see Map of Dover Area).  Where as the Conemaugh formation can be found exposed at the tops of some hills which are over 1200 ft in elevation.  These formations contain sandstone, shale, coal, clay, limestone, and iron ore.  However, the Allegheny formation is the most important formation of the three because it is a major source of coal, clay and shale in the area.

      The Dover area contains four general soil types or compositions.  These are four types are: Westmoreland-Hazelton-Coshocton (WHC), Coshocton-Bethesda-Guernsey (CBG), Fitchville-Glenford-Orrville (FGO), and the Wheeling-Chili-Tioga (WCT).  Below are the descriptions of these general soil types. These descriptions were taken from the 1986 Tuscarawas County Soil Survey1

  1. Westmorland-Hazelton-Coshocton deep, strongly sloping to very steep, well drained and moderately well drained soils formed in residuum and colluvium derived from siltstone, sandstone, shale and limestone
  2.  Coshocton-Bethesda-Guernsey deep, nearly level to very steep, moderately well drained and well drained soils formed in residuum and colluvium derived from siltstone, shale, sandstone, limestone and in material surface mined areas.
  3. Fitchville-Glenford-Orrville deep, nearly level to strongly sloping, somewhat poorly drained and moderately well drained soils formed in lacustrine sediments and alluvium.
  4. Wheeling-Chili-Tioga deep, nearly level to sloping, well drained soils formed in loamy materials, glacial outwash and alluvium.

     The WHC and CBG soil types’ area generally found on upland areas, where as the FGO and the WCT soil type’s area found on slack water terraces, outwash terraces and flood plains.  Most of the city area of Dover is built on Wheeling-Urban land complex which is a specific type of soil with in the WCT soils.  This soil is a mixture of deep well drained Wheeling soil and areas of UrbanLand on flats on outwash terraces.  The land is generally flat with a slope of less that 3% and the soil is up to 120 inches deep.  UrbanLand is soil that has been worked over by machinery for the purpose of building roads or buildings and has the structures on them.

     The house that I grew up in is located at 40o31’ N by 81o29’53” W which is to the west of the corporation limit on top of a hill at an elevation of  1020 feet above mean sea level.  The soil my house was built on is call Coshocton-Guernsey (CsC) silt loams and has a slope between 8-15% (see Soil Survey Map of Dover).  This soil type is part of the more general soil type of Coshocton-Bethesda-Guernsey.  The CsC soil is between 40-70% Coshocton silt loam and 20-40% Guernsey silt loam.  The soil is deep, up to 105 inches.  It is moderately well drained with moderately slow to slow permeability. The sub soil is strongly acidic to alkaline and contains a deep root zone.  Cultivation of this soil can lead to major erosion unless proper precautions are taken.  The other problem with this soil is the seasonal wetness along with the slope and shrink-swell potential.  These area all limiting factors for construction on this type of soil.  An example of this happened to our house in the late 1990’s when the northern part of the foundation on our house cracked and sunk 3 inches.  The solution was to dig around and under the foundation, use a hydraulic jack to raise the foundation, pour 6 cubic yards of concrete around and under the foundation and add extra drainage.

     Most of Dover’s ground water comes from an area that seems to follow the old Dover Newark river bed.  In this area the water is obtained from valley fill material.  The material is predominantly coarse permeable sand and gravel deposits.  This material may extend to depths as great as 290 feet below ground.  This aquifer is hydraulically connected to the adjacent river.  It is possible that this aquifer is also part of a unique geological feature in the area which id the underground river that is fed by Lake Erie.  Wells in this area can produce more than 500 gallons of water a minute.   The surrounding low areas of the creaks and streams that drain into one of the drainage systems above this aquifer are usually hydraulically connected to very thick valley deposits.

     In my neighbor hood the wells are developed in sandstone, shale, limestone sequences of the Pennsylvanian system.  However, sometimes they are developed in the sandstone shale sequences of the upper Mississippian system.  Well depths of over 300 feet have been recorded in the area but area not common. These wells usually yield 10 to 25 gallons of water per minute.2

     Water quality tests were done at two sites around Dover.  One well was drilled to the north, just east of Strasburg.  The other well was drilled to the south in the south end of New Philadelphia.   The Strasburg well is 115 feet deep and is a sand and gravel aquifer. This well was drilled on exposed bedrock and can pump 600 gallons of water a minute.  The New Philly well is also a sand and gravel aquifer built on top of exposed bedrock.  This well is 120 feet deep and is capable of pumping 2000 gallons of water per minute. 

     The water for both wells went through a chemical analysis.  This analysis looked at the hardness of the water and also the dissolved solids in these wells.  The hardness range, or presence of Calcium carbonate, was 425-430 mg/l.  Most people in the area probably have water softeners because of the hardness of the water.  The dissolved solids in the water were about 592 mg/l.  Some of the other chemicals found in the water were Ca, Cl, Mg, Na, and SO4.  Some of these chemicals are from water filtering through the limestone and iron ore deposits.

     Most of these wells coincide with the drainage basins in the area.  The drainage basin for Dover is the TuscarawasRiver which is part of the Muskingum watershed. By the time the TuscarawasRiver passes through Dover it drains over 1400 square miles of land.  Some smaller creeks and streams empty into the TuscarawasRiver around the Dover area.  Crooked Run drains into the Stone Creek which empties into the Tuscarawas.  These two drain the southern end of Dover.   Brandywine Creek drains the area to the west of Dover, including my neighbor hood (see Map of Dover Area).  Goettege Run drains the northern and eastern areas of Dover.  Both the Brandywine Creek and Goettege Run empty into the Sugar Creek.  The Sugar Creek also drains part of the northern and western areas of Dover.   As the TuscarawasRiver meanders through Dover from the north east to the south in meets up with the Sugar Creek.  When the Sugar Creek empties into the TuscarawasRiver it has drained 356 square miles. 

     Dover Dam is on the TuscarawasRiver just north of town at 40o33’30” N by 81o24’45” W with a spillway elevation of 916 feet above mean sea level.  Before the dam was built there were major problems with flooding, especially between the months of December through March.  The most devastating floods happened between 1913 and 1939.  However, there aren’t any accurate flood records before 1913.  Today flooding isn’t as great of a concern, but it is the areas only major environmental hazard.

     The major flooding in the area was reduced by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) and the 1939 Flood Control Act.  The MWCD is a conservancy district composed of 18 counties in Ohio including TuscarawasCounty.  Each county is represented by a judge from the common pleas court.  This court of judges appoint a Board of Directors who over see the operations of the MWCD.  What the MWCD does is manage the Muskingum watershed which includes all the drainage basins in Dover.  However, there main purpose is to control flooding.  

    Since the inception of the MWCD and the building of Dover Damn, flooding ceased to be a major concern.  For the most part Dover sits about 100 above the Sugar Creek and the Tuscarawas River, other than a few low areas near these two bodies of water.  As you travel south through town on wither the Sugar Creek or the TuscarawasRiver the flood plain begins to grow.  It is especially large in the area where these two waterways meet. One problem with this is that the sewage treatment plant for Dover is located in this area as well as a few chemical plants. A large enough flood could be disastrous for areas down river.  The only areas of the city that actually flood on any kind of regularity are a small area of Goettege Run between Walnut Street and the Sugar Creek and the area between the fair grounds and the TuscarawasRiver.  My house is located about 140 feet above the Sugar Creek.  I think that it is fairly safe from flooding unless there were to be some sort of biblical Noah’s Ark type flood.

    Dover is a very interesting place to study geology.  There are excellent bedrock formations in the area. There aren’t any major geologic hazards to watch out for.  There aren’t any environmental risks except for the flooding which is almost non-existent.  I don’t think Christian Deardorff and Jesse Slingluff knew the geologic aspects the 2,175 acres had.  They probably thought it was a good location on the TuscarawasRiver. However, with the lack of environmental hazards, the good soil, the valuable resource materials in the bedrock and the water resources the area has, they probably couldn’t have picked a better spot to start a city.

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