Southern Ohio is a diverse region, largely defined by its hills and floods, two seemingly incompatible features. One of the defining natural features of this region is the Hocking Hills. Largely encapsulated in Hocking Hills State Park, the Hocking Hills feature waterfalls, caves, forests and cliffs. Its most famous feature is a cave known as Rock House.
Hocking Hills State Park is along state Route 664 just outside of Logan, Ohio. Rock House is found deeper in the park, alongside state Route 374. From the parking lot it is a short hike of a few hundred feet to Rock House.
Rock House is a cavern situated halfway up a tall cliff face. The actual cavern has ceilings approximately 25 feet high, with a total length over 150 feet. From the entrance the cave has a variable width, usually around 30 feet. The cave's outward face has a number of eroded openings that have come to be known as windows.
Rock House is unique in the Hocking Hills region because it is the only true cave in the park. Carved by steady water erosion, Rock House is an immense cavern hollowed out of the local Blackhand sandstone.
The name Rock House comes both from the cave's general house-like appearance and also a number of historic habitations inside the cave. Archaeologists have uncovered a wealth of evidence that Rock House was used by Native Americans for centuries. After settlers showed up in the Ohio Valley, the cave took on a more unsavory reputation. Nicknamed Robber's Roost in the 19th century, Rock House played host to a rotating cast of robbers, bootleggers, horse thieves and murderers.
Rock House has been a source of tourist interest almost since the beginning of the United States of America. However, it gained real prominence as a visitor's attraction in 1835, when a Logan entrepreneur built a swanky hotel immediately next to the cave. The hotel was much like an all-inclusive resort of today, with a ballroom, post office and horse stable.
Rock House came under government protection in 1949, when the Ohio Division of Parks purchased the land. While Hocking Hills State Park was founded in 1924, the state gradually expanded the property under the park's purview as the years passed.