Our new home is close to Ohio’s center, which makes day trips around the state easy.
We wandered up to Marion, home to President Warren G. Harding, and visited his grand tomb, the subject of a future post.
Across the road is the Marion Cemetery where one finds what might look like a monument to a bowling ball manufacturer. It is actually the Merchant Stone which is famous in the area.
Charles Merchant was a wealthy Marion citizen involved in both industry and railroads. His family marked his grave in 1896 with a pedestal topped by an approximately 5200-pound stone ball.
Then a legend developed: the polished Quincy black granite ball is said to move on its own revealing an unpolished spot where the stone originally rested on the pedestal. Noticing the shift, the Merchant family had the giant stone lifted by a crane and placed back in its rightful orientation in 1898. But the ball moved on.
In an article for Ohio Magazine, Jim Riedl, superintendent of the cemetery, said they had pictures from the early 1900s with the unpolished spot near the top. He said during his 40 years there, it had only moved four or five inches.
There has been much speculation on why and how much it moves, some attributing it to water and ice formation, others to seismic or gravitational forces. It is a cemetery; some even suspect ghosts are involved.
In 1929, it was featured in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.” Many say “not.”
“The Pennsylvania Ramble,” a blogger, believes the stone was “probably just set incorrectly in the first place.” She points out there are no scratches that would have formed by movement on the polished surface.
Some feel it is just a long-standing joke by the groundskeepers.
In every photo I could find including one dating back twenty years, the spot is always in the same place. I’d like to see Riedl’s photos.
But it was a beautiful day and a beautiful place for those not bothered by cemeteries; we enjoyed it seeing it.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Date of our visit: 30 Aug 20