Editor’s note: This travel article was planned before the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. If you’re considering visiting any of the Conservancy’s preserves, please consult the regulations of the states the preserves are located in and follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.
By Tamara Jager Stewart
This is an article excerpt from the Summer 2020 edition of American Archaeology Magazine. Become a member of The Archaeological Conservancy for your complimentary subscription.
Visiting archaeological sites can be both educational and awe-inspiring. Seeing some of the following sites is certain to enhance your appreciation of our country’s rich and varied history.
The birthing scene in Bear Cave is one of the remarkable pictographs at the Rocky Hill Archaeological Preserve. | Credit: Mary Gerbic
The Conservancy acquired the Shavano Valley Rock Art Site in 2013 with the assistance of a Colorado Historical Fund grant. This forty-acre preserve in southwest Colorado contains twenty-six petroglyph panels dating from the Archaic through the historic Ute periods (1000 B.C.to A.D. 1900). It also has lithic processing and tool manufacturing areas and bedrock mortars where resource processing likely took place. | Credit: Chaz Evans
Blake Smith standing next to a petroglyph at the Smith Family Preserve. The 196-acre preserve was donated to the Conservancy in 2013 by the Adelbert D. Smith family. It contains hundreds of petroglyphs, some of which may be 6,000 years old. The Conservancy, working with a group of volunteer site stewards, has developed a trail system, constructed an information kiosk, and improved a parking lot. | Credit: Chaz Evans
Ebbert Spring Archaeological Preserve and Heritage Park in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, is a twelve-acre preserve established by the Conservancy and its partners in 2006 and expanded in 2018. The preserve includes the remains of prehistoric settlement dating from 10,000 B.C. through the Woodland-period, as well as later historic structures that include a mid-eighteenth-century limestone farmhouse and associated outbuildings related to the Allison Family, the founders of Greencastle. According to historical documents, William Allison Senior built a private fort known as Fort Allison, a French and Indian War frontier outpost. While the fort’s location has not been verified, it is possible that the fortified springhouse on the property may have been this outpost.
From 2003 to 2010 a local chapter of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology undertook excavations at the site, revealing numerous intact features such as post molds, hearths, and refuse pits dating from 1,500 to 2,700 years ago, as well as tens of thousands of historic and prehistoric artifacts. These investigations have helped redefine thinking about prehistoric lifeways in this portion of the Cumberland Valley, demonstrating that early, dense settlements were not just located along major waterways, but also near large freshwater springs. Ebbert Spring is named for the natural spring on the property that has flowed for centuries and continues to produce more than 600 gallons of water a minute.
The park was opened to the public in 2019 and is managed by the Conservancy in collaboration with Antrim Township and the Allison-Antrim Museum. Open from dawn to dusk, the park offers a walking trail with interpretive kiosks that discuss the prehistory, history, ecology, and geology of the park and the surrounding region.