Although the glaciers never reached the area, they did have a major influence on the drainage patterns and topography of the region. The preserve system is located about 10 miles south of the Illinoian and about 30 miles south of the Wisconsin advance (Braun 1928a). However, the glacial advances affected the water flow in the region. The preglacial Teays River, which flowed northwesterly across Ohio, was the major river of Ohio around 1.5 million years ago and was the main drainage for 20 to 30 million years or more (Stout et al. 1943). The river had its headwaters in the Piedmont Plateau of Virginia and North Carolina. It entered Ohio from West Virginia just east of Portsmouth. The Teays River was similar in size to the present day Ohio River and drained most of Ohio and surrounding states.
The Portsmouth River, which flowed north into the Teays River, was the drainage system of the Edge of Appalachia prior to the glaciers. The glaciers of the pre-Kansan and Kansan advances blocked the flow of the Teays and formed a large lake that contributed to the isolation of many plants (Tight 1903; Transeau 1941). The high waters eventually broke an old divide between two tributaries of the Portsmouth River. Buzzardroost Rock was part of this former divide (Durrell 1974; Elfner 1971). When the divide was breached, it created a new drainage system known as the Deep Stage. Ohio Brush Creek was formed during this period and it drained into the newly formed Cincinnati River. About 100,000 years ago, the Illinoian glacial advance dammed the flow of the Cincinnati River and again impounded lakes formed after the waters receded the New Martinsville River was formed (Jones 1945). The present day Ohio River was created after the Wisconsin glacial advance about 15,000 years ago. Ohio Brush Creek, after it was formed, has flowed in the same valley.
Image: Teays River, Courtesy of ODNR Geologic Survey