Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Petroglyphs and Arrowheads by the Stone Weir

Picture rocks: American Indian rock art in the Northeast woodlands - Google Books Result J. Lenik - 2002 - Art - 280 pages

"It is likely that Indian people witnessed bears fishing at this point in the river. Weirs were built at shallow points in a river where the stone needed for their construction ... The location of the bear paw (petroglyph) at the stone fish weir, its position on the rock… the Passaic River petroglyphs, a second fish weir petroglyph was reported to me. In the late 1930s, Stanley Milkowski of Paterson, New Jersey, fished at the site of the stone weir in the river located between Paterson and Fair Lawn...

Tony DeCondo at a fish weir visible in the Passaic, between Paterson and Fair Lawn, when the river is low.

Pursuing a Secret of the Passaic


Published: October 3, 2008

“I’m always on the riverbank on both sides, hoping to find something,” Mr. DeCondo said, his eyes instinctively sweeping the ground for a telltale arrowhead that would help establish a Native American presence here.

And then last year he found something — not in the mud by the river, but in a dusty box that had been sitting unseen in a storeroom in the Paterson Museum, not far from the old dye house where his father once worked. “It was serendipity at its height, just unbelievable,” he said.

After retiring he had started volunteering at the museum, cataloging a collection of 6,000 projectile points, and about halfway through he had a eureka moment: an arrowhead and two stone knife fragments attached to a neatly printed card that recorded when and where they had been found, in April 1924, in Fair Lawn, “opposite the foot of 3rd Ave.”

“Right by the weir,” he said. He also found two other arrowheads that had been discovered about 100 feet north of the weir. “I thought to myself, the spirit of the weir is guiding me here.”

The new evidence, he hopes, will bolster his case for the weir’s landmark status. For now, though, his attention has turned at least in part to another weir that was discovered several years ago half a mile downstream. “We literally bumped into it,” said Mr. DeVita of the river restoration team, who was skimming the river in a flat-bottomed boat that snagged on some submerged rocks. When the water level later dropped some more, a W-shaped weir emerged.


  1. The phrase "...a telltale arrowhead that would help establish a Native American presence here" seems to perpetuate the silly idea that the Native Americans were somehow few and far between in this landscape. It is inconceivable that there would not be a Native American presence along such a good sized river and that that would somehow need to be "established".

  2. From the site report for the Killingly CT LeBeau Weir in the previous post to this one: "Over 8,700 aboriginal artifacts were recovered from the LeBeau site. The vast majority (98.8%) were manufactured from stone, almost all of which was a locally available quartzite. The remaining 1.2% consist of clay shards from broken cooking pots. The stone artifacts included projectile points, bifaces, hammerstones, cores, flake tools for cutting and scraping, debitage and fire-cracked rock.
    A number of diagnostic artifacts show that the site was occupied intermittently over thousands of years. A Neville point style indicates a Middle Archaic occupation (circa 8,000-6,000 years ago)… The small number of projectile points recovered indicates that hunting was not an important site activity."