Quarry Farm Nature Preserve and Conservation Farm
Pandora, Ohio 45877
Quarry Farm webpage
eBird Bar Charts by Season
Tips for birding Quarry Farm
This Putnam County area near Cranberry Creek flowing into larger Riley Creek was dredged and straightened in the 1950s to alleviate flooding in the area, but since then family and friends have worked hard on restoring the stream’s riparian corridor, the floodplain, and woodland maintained it as a retreat and nature preserve. With this habitat restoration it follows that good birds are found in the woods along Cranberry Creek, deep in the prairies, nearby abandoned quarries, and even in the barnyard of rescued farm animals.
I’ve also experienced creek walking mid summer for dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies while listening to feeding songbirds. This is a wonderful hours long hike in a small preserve boasting 128 species of birds, but be sure to call ahead to let the owners/friends schedule your private time to visit. Be prepared for rough terrain, slippery rock and wet, wooden walkways, tall grasses requiring bug spray, and friendly hosts showing off the historic cabin and farm animals in the more accessible areas.
From Amy Downing, Ohio Ornithological Society Northwest Regional Director
About Quarry Farm Nature Preserve and Conservation Farm
Several small quarries along Riley Creek near Bluffton were operated in the late 19th and early 20th Century for flagstone and lime burning. The Sackett family ran such a business in the floodplain southeast of the mouth of Cranberry Run where it enters Riley Creek. Their quarrying operation hit multiple springs that forced the business to relocate upstream.
Everett Seitz and his family lived in a house on the upland north of the flooded quarry pit. After a fire claimed his house in the early 1940s, Everett’s brother Carl, and his wife, Joyce, bought the 50 acres that encompassed the old quarry and the two homesteads. Carl pastured Jersey calves there. The waters of the old quarry and Cranberry Run became popular fishing spots. “Families came there to fish and picnic on the spit of land between the quarry and the stream,” remembers Joyce. ” There was a willow that grew almost parallel to the quarry. Big fish gathered there. The water was deep, especially the northeast corner.”
In the 1950s, Cranberry Run was dredged and straightened in a government effort to abate flooding in Allen and Putnam Counties. This caused increased flooding and extensive erosion that filled in much of the old quarry with sediment.
In the early 1970s, Gerald and Laura (Seitz) Coburn bought the Quarry Farm, as the Seitz family had come to call the place. They began restoring the stream’s riparian corridor, the floodplain, and woodland and maintained it as a retreat and nature preserve. Today, family members and friends continue to operate the Quarry Farm with the same mission in mind. Several distinct habitats have flourished and are home to native mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and plants as well as native and migratory birds and insects.
The quarry suffered from the 1960s dredging, as well as from another round in the early 1980s, but it is still a wetland that houses birds, reptiles, amphibians and rare plants. Because of the healthy tree growth on its banks, Cranberry Run flows clear most of the year to the point of offering a clear plume of water to Riley Creek north of the Quarry Farm.
In 1996, Gerald Coburn purchased a c.1853 cabin in West Virginia and, piece by piece, relocated it to the Quarry Farm. The organic gardens of Red Fox Cabin are alive with butterflies and beneficial insects. The cabin serves as a visitors and conference center for public education workshops and school tours. Although the Quarry Farm Nature Preserve and Conservation Farm is closed to hunting and is currently only open to visitors by appointment only, the board of directors is working to establish public access hours for hiking and educational events.
From Quarry Farm webpage