A Rock in a hard place
by Phil Wiese
January 31, 2023

The fun thing about having an outdoors and recreation column is there is never a shortage of ideas to talk about. I love the great outdoors, so much that my career is in helping others find the right RV, allowing them to spend quality time camping and being outside as much as I love to do.

Camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing are only a few of the many things I enjoy doing outside. One of my favorite summer activities is Creek Stomping with my niece and nephew as they visit from Colorado. Creek Stomping is where we walk up stream in the crick that snakes through our family’s property. There is a long-standing debate in our family whether it is crick or creek. I will always maintain it is crick-HA!

While Creek Stomping, we look through the clear water for arrow heads and other artifacts. Artifacts are gifts that remind us of the cultures and civilizations that lived here long before us. Artifacts can sometimes help tell a story. One of my friend’s dad had an extensive artifact collection. He had this unique pipe that was carved out of a reddish colored stone. He told me about a story by George Catlin, an artist that left his job as a lawyer and traveled the plains painting artwork of Native Americans. He shared the story from the National Park Service website that tells that the stone the pipes were made from was considered sacred, and violence, and even weapons, were forbidden at its source.

I think it’s pretty cool that someone found a pipe that belonged to someone who traveled a long distance to a place where members of warring tribes gathered peacefully and grabbed stone to make that ceremonial pipe from. My imagination runs wild wondering how scary that journey was. How many attempts did it take to carve the perfect pipe? How long did it take to travel there? If that pipe could talk, it would tell us a hundred stories.

Last summer, some of my friends came over to Creek Stomp. They found one of the most unique artifacts (or so I thought) ever found on the property. They found it washed up in a deep ravine in the middle of our forest. It was a rock in a hard place. It’s a stone resembling a man with a big nose smiling. I sent pictures to the State Geologist at the University of Iowa who said it is a geological item, a concretion, albeit a fantastic one, for sure. Concretions he said form basically by infilling and then once exposed to the elements water rounding. He said if people from earlier times ran across this object, they would have marveled over it as well.

I also showed it to someone who belongs to a local archaeology club. They said it is a Native American effigy. An effigy is a representation of a person. What do you think? Is this a concretion or an effigy? I like believing it’s an effigy, but of who? When did they live? What did they do? If this rock could speak, what stories would it tell? Did mother nature give us this gift, or was it left as a gift from someone long ago? I hope my imagination doesn’t stop running wild wondering.

Watch PCTV Live

Recent Stories

Get Discover Muscatine in Your Inbox

Select list(s):