York Town Square

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Part II: Petroglyphs, American Indian carvings, almost forgotten treasure

Paul Nevin wets a serpent petroglyph on Little Indian Rock in the Susquehanna River south of Safe Harbor Dam. Notice the paddlers on their way to learn about the Native American carvings. (See additional York Daily Record/Sunday News file photo below.) Background posts: 400 years ago, John Smith explored Chesapeake Bay and For years, York countians have eyed amazing, destructive Susquehanna River ice jams and On York County parks, Susquehannocks and carved river rocks.

A recent Pennlive.com story about the petroglyphs in the Susquehanna River carried a website that will interest fans of these American Indian rock carvings.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has several web pages devoted to the carvings, including a neat graphic that allows users to highlight carvings of bird tracks, bear tracks, deer tracks, elk tracks and human tracks…. .

This petroglyph, of a man with big hands and big feet, is said to represent a leader, one who walks a lot and has a good grasp of situations.
Another page, Petroglyphs of Pennsylvania describes these rock carvings that have intrigued and inspired folks for decades.
Here’s a description of the Safe Harbor carvings, the petroglyphs most familiar to York countians:

“In the area below just below Safe Harbor Dam the largest concentration of petroglyphs in the Northeastern United States still survives. The most famous of these sites, Big Indian Rock and Little Indian Rock, were first recorded in 1863 and were further investigated by Donald Cadzow of the Pennsylvania Historical Commission in 1930-31. In the 1980’s petroglyphs were discovered on several other rocks in the vicinity, and in 2002 the Conejohela Chapter 28, Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology systematically recorded more than 300 petroglyphs on seven rocks along this stretch of the river. These petroglyphs consist of naturalistic designs of humans, animals, and their tracks as well as more supernatural depictions of human and animal-like imagery, and other conventionalized symbolic designs (circles, dots, etc.).”

For more on the petroglyphs, see:
– Yorktownsquare: Petroglyphs, American Indian carvings, almost forgotten treasure, Part I.
– Ydr.com: Passion for petroglyphs