In the mid 1700s, this area was home to the Wyandot tribe whose village of Oldtown was situated along the banks of the Hocking River near present-day Logan. Their name for the river (from which the park gets its name) was Hockhocking, meaning "bottle river". The name comes from the bottle-shaped gorge formed by the upper falls just north of Lancaster. Although they never formed permanent villages here, the Delaware and powerful Shawnee nations frequently hunted and traveled through the Hocking Hills region.
Permanent settlement by pioneers did not occur in this area until the late 1790s. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 followed by the Treaty of Greenville in 1795 cleared the way for settlement. The first settlers found an abundance of game for food; deer, elk, wild turkey and bear were numerous. The small rock shelters provided natural den sites for bears. Occasionally, wood bison wandered here from the western plains into the flat river bottoms. The last local bison was reported killed along the banks of Queer Creek in 1799.
Hocking Hills, even through its many changes, has managed to maintain its pristine character. One need only leave the parking lot behind and venture down one of the park's many trails to escape into the Hocking wilderness. One may hear the splashing of waterfalls, the haunting call of the whip-poor-will, the whisper of wind in the hemlock or the distant murmur of the Hockhocking as it drifts along.
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