Milepost 139.5 – Westbound Between Exits 135 and 140
County: Lorain How it got its name
Located at the Middle Ridge and Vermilion Valley Service Plazas at Milepost 139.5, in Amherst Ohio. The Ohio Turnpike Community Rooms are conveniently located for your next group meeting or conference. The rooms are available for reservation any day of the week from 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
The rooms can accommodate 30 people classroom style and 45 people theater style. A variety of catering options are also available upon request. The rooms can be accessed from the Turnpike or by the local public roads. There is ample parking inside the plazas for Turnpike travelers and outside the plazas for those accessing the plazas via local roadways.
There is no rental fee to use a community room; However, a $50 refundable security deposit is required prior to reserving the room.
Persons interested in reserving a community room may – Click HERE to request a room reservation or by contacting the Service Plaza Operations Dept. at 440-234-2081.
Ancient lakes and a vastly older sea, geographic features of northern Ohio in prehistoric times, left vivid imprints on the landscape that survive today, particularly in the vicinity of the Middle Ridge Service Plaza of the Ohio Turnpike.
North of the turnpike at this point is Middle Ridge, a long, low-lying embankment marking the shore line of Lake Whittlesey, one of a succession of lakes which occupied the present Lake Erie basin during the retreat of the great glacier that covered northern Ohio thousands of years ago. South of the turnpike are the world’s largest sandstone quarries from which are mined great quantities of the rock resulting from deposits by streams flowing into a sea that existed some 300 million years ago.
Middle Ridge and other beach ridges can still be readily recognized along a distance of many miles in the counties bordering Lake Erie. Consisting largely of sand, sandy silt and some gravel, the ridges served as roadbeds for the earliest highways and later for the electric interurban lines that have become almost as extinct as the ancient lakes. The sandy soil makes the beach ridges excellent locations for truck farms and nurseries and rich sources of borrow material used in the construction of highway embankments.
Middle Ridge closely parallels the Ohio Turnpike, running east of the Middle Ridge Service Plaza through Elyria and west through Fremont. Following the ridge in Lorain County is Middle Ridge Road, which lies immediately behind and serves as an access road for the Middle Ridge Service Plaza. Between Middle Ridge and Lake Erie lies North Ridge, the ancient shoreline of Lake Warren, which was formed when the waters left by the glacier had fallen below the level of Lake Whittlesey. South of Middle Ridge is Chestnut Ridge, the surviving beach of Lake Maumee, earliest of the glacial lakes. Ridges left at the shorelines of other glacial lakes are found elsewhere in Lorain County but none is as prominent a feature of the landscape as Middle Ridge.
As the great glacier withdrew from northern Ohio the flow of water from the glacial lakes was partially obstructed by the continued presence of the ice sheet to the north. As the ice continued to recede, new outlets for the water developed, causing the lake to drop to the level of the opened passageway. On each occasion a new shoreline was formed which would persist for hundreds of years until further glacial activity altered the lake level, leaving the shore as an abandoned beach ridge.
If the Middle Ridge Service Plaza had existed at the time of Lake Whittlesey, it would have occupied an ideal location on the beach. If there had been any customers, they would have been primitive-type men carrying spears or clubs to protect themselves against the great prehistoric animals that might have wandered out of the spruce forest to sun themselves on the beach. The hypothetical caveman customer, however, would have thought twice before taking a swim when he noticed the icebergs in the lake. At that time, the glacier had receded only to the point of present-day Buffalo.
Millions of years previously, when fishes and plant life held domain and when the only land animals were lowly amphibians, streams flowing through this area into a shallow sea deposited great quantities of sand. This sand was buried, compacted and cemented by the ground water containing minerals, and thus converted into the famous Berea Sandstone that is now mined in the great Amherst Quarries a few hundred yards southwest of the Middle Ridge Service Plaza. One of these quarries, first opened in 1869, is 200 feet deep and a mile around the top. From this and other Ohio quarries come two-thirds of the building sandstone used in the United States. The Ohio Turnpike Administration Building, which may be seen on the north side of the turnpike 18 miles east of the Middle Ridge Service Plaza, is faced with this native sandstone.