Friday, February 24, 2006

The Indian Campsite

In the 1950s a cousin, Neil Beckner I believe, took me up past his Beckner grandparents' home and the United Brethren Church to see what he assured me was an old Indian campground. The spot was pretty isolated, back in the woods. I could kind of see where someone might think it looked like a campfire site, the way the stones were, but I couldn't see anything to convince me it had been inhabited. Neil couldn't provide any more verification than to tell me folks used to find arrowheads up there. Now, our mothers' cousins and young uncles were forever telling outrageous stories so that even though I could see my cousin believed what he was saying, I couldn't be sure someone wasn't having him on. Still, it was a lovely place, and when I turned my back to the campfire area I was treated to a breathtaking view. Oil Creek Road (and Oil Creek) were a steep drop below us so that the view east looked out over majestic rolling hills.

Decades later I visited Serpent Mound at Chillicothe, Ohio. When I finished the walk from the tail to the head of the undulating mound I looked up and saw what seemed to be the exact same, distinctive, view I’d had so long ago from the Indian Campground overlooking Orlando and Oil Creek.

I have no idea what the connection might be between the two sites. As I understand it, the Mound Builders who we believe built the earthworks lived centuries before the Native Americans who would have left arrowheads. Still, the similarity between the two sights was uncanny.

additional note, March 22, 2006:
In 1924 Roy Bird Cook wrote "John P. Duvall . . . secured 1400 acres more embracing the land between Roanoke and Arnold and a large part of Canoe Run. Duvall was a prominent man in frontier days and his "Indian House" was the site of an old Indian village, it seems. The writer has a collection of flint implements secured in this vicinity. John H. Conrad has a similar collection from the lower valley, and for years on the farm of the late George Cook could be discerned a small mound attributed to a race here before the Indians."
from West Virginia Archives & History at

Here's an interesting webpage about Native Americans in the area.

Above Orlando I saw an arrangement of rocks in the woods that would have made a good campsite. At Chillicothe, OH I saw an earthwork serpent that, by the way, looked like the one to the right. Both sites overlook a similar landscape.

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