The Fossils of Ohio’s Statehouse Building: Where Politics Meets Prehistoric Life

Capitol Building Walls and Floors Made Out of Fossils

Ohio Statehouse capitol building fossils

When you imagine a state government building, specifically a state capitol building, what do you usually think about?

Some of the things that come to mind are probably impressive architecture, towering columns, ornate decorations, and symbols of historical significance.

That’s what comes to mind for me at least.

Ohio’s Statehouse is no different. It has all the things you’d expect to find in a state capitol building. Except this one has an unexpected additional feature…the walls and floors are filled with fossils!

Exterior stairstep of Columbus Limestone with a high-spired gastropod fossil. (image: James St. John/cc)
Exterior building stone with a straight-shelled nautiloid fossil. (image: James St. John/cc)

That’s because the building’s structure consists mainly of Columbus Limestone. And what’s interesting about Columbus Limestone is that you can easily see the remains of corals, sponges, and marine life from approximately 390 to 405 million years ago. During this time, known as the Devonian Period, Ohio was completely submerged in a tepid, shallow ocean.

And as for the flooring, Crown Point Limestone was used which is even older than the Columbus variety. This stone dates back to roughly 459 million years ago, the Late Ordovician Period. It also contains a wide variety of fossilized invertebrates similar to the Columbus Limestone.

Gastropod fossils in the flooring made out of Crown Point Limestone (image: James St. John/cc)
Ordovician nautiloid fossil in the flooring made out of Crown Point Limestone (image: James St. John/cc)

So if you’re ever in Ohio and decide to stop by the Capitol building, you’ll get a chance to not only marvel at political history but also get an up-close look at these unique, embedded fossils in the walls and floors of the building itself!

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