Stark, actually: The legend and lore about Machan's Rock

Tim Botos
The Repository
Machan's Rock is just south of the Stark County border, near Beach City.

WHAT: Machan's Rock is a rock formation and cave.

WHERE: On land owned by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District , on the outskirts of the Beach City Reservoir, and along an Ohio Central Railroad line. It's actually in Tuscarawas County, just over the southwestern Stark County border, near the village of Beach City.

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WHEN: This photo was taken the afternoon of April 10.

THE STORY: Generations of locals have hiked, explored, hung out, painted graffitti and partied at the location — the formation is 35 feet high and includes a 350-foot-long cave.

The cave and rock have its share of legend, lore and fact: That it was an Underground Railroad stop in the 1800s; that a dead body was found inside in the 1950s, which prompted locals to dynamite a portion of its interior in an effort to keep people out; and a 21-year-old Tuslaw High graduate fell to his death while painting the name of his girlfriend near the top of the rock.

So, who was Machan?

Property records and maps show several people with the Machan surname owned land in the area in the 1800s. The rock is believed to be named for Robert Machan, who owned a farm where the rock is located.

The Conservancy District purchased the land — and rock ― in the 1930s from Machan as part of its acquisition of the Beach City Reservoir. The cave inside the formation is believed to be the second longest in Northeast Ohio.

The cave's two lower entrances are on railroad-owned land; a third entry point is at the peak of the rock.

Reach Tim at 330-580-8333 Twitter: @tbotosREP