Just south of Cleveland, Ohio there is a whimsical stone garden that looks as though it should be inhabited by faeries and dwarves. Worden’s Ledges is the former homestead of Hiram Worden. In the mid-1800s, Worden built a home on a plot of Hinckley, Ohio land which included several large sandstone boulders. In the 1940s, Worden’s son-in-law Stuart Noble carved a series of faces and figures into said boulders that have delighted visitors for nearly 80 years.
No one is entirely sure why Stuart Noble started transforming the boulders on Hiram Worden’s homestead into a lively rock garden. Local lore suggests that Noble—who was an aspiring sculptor—wanted to create something interesting and beautiful for his wife Nettie who rarely left the homestead. Nettie’s name is carved into one of the rocks in dainty cursive.
Worden’s Ledges features a mix of historical figures, likenesses of Hiram Worden’s family, and Christian symbolism such as a cross and a Bible. A stoic rendering of George Washington which has been eroded by the elements is a crowd favorite. Some of the faces that Noble carved are slightly hidden by natural overhangs, so viewing all of Noble’s creations requires a little patience and a keen set of eyes.
Stuart Noble’s rock sculptures are surrounded by bright green moss, towering trees, and sprouting plants. Visitors who hike the area around Worden’s Ledges may encounter a shy deer or a hungry buzzard scavenging for food.
Many visitors consider Stuart Noble’s simplistic yet majestic sphinx to be the centerpiece of Worden’s Ledges. Noble’s moss-covered sphinx appears fairly jovial and content. Forget traveling to Egypt to unravel the mystery of the sphinx when you can simply drive roughly one hour south of Cleveland.
After viewing Worden’s Ledges, adventure lovers can visit nearby Whipp’s Ledges to perfect their rock climbing skills. Whipp’s Ledges features a 30 foot sandstone ledge where adrenaline junkies can attempt to climb sections of the ledge with their bare hands, or rappel from the top with the help of climbing gear.
A hand-carved surreal stone garden isn’t what most people associate with the state of Ohio, but anyone who has crisscrossed the Buckeye State will tell you that Ohio is full of strange and wonderful hidden treasures. An afternoon spent wandering the grounds of Worden’s Ledges will remind you that there is magic in every corner of the United States if you hop on the interstate and seek it out.
Wordens Ledges Loop Trail
Photos via atlasobscura and Flickr
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