Thursday, September 04, 2014

Quartz Boulder and Quarried Questions

“Speak! Silent rock, and tell me thy mysterious tale...”
I drive by here often, along a road called Quassapuag, the old Indian Trail to the Lake of the same name. I've posted the good photos from different places along that trail/road and I've bored you with old aerial photos of the zigzag rows of stones that showed profusely on both sides of the road. Little bits of zigzag remain in places, sometimes as solid as can be, sometimes so borrowed from that you can barely tell they were once there. 
Every once in a while, someone cleans up around those "stone walls" - which I like much better than seeing that people have turned an old zigzag row into a brick and block-like "proper stone wall."

I'll post some details soon, but the one stone in the segment of stones that sticks out in my mind is a boulder further down the road where the row becomes less visible:
There it is on the left in the photo above, a boulder with a vein of quartz running through it:

Too big and oddly shaped to have been borrowed and used elsewhere, could it be a point stone that was just left alone because that was the easiest thing to do?
The next question just sort of popped into my head: Could a person quarry a stone point or other tool out of this vein of quartz? Wouldn't that be sort of handy, a little like a convenience store on the way from Nonnewaug Wigwams to the Quassapaug Fish Camp (on the White Deer Rocks Road)?
My morning google search turned up just one person's photos of a possible boulder that might have been used that way, but it turned out to be me, writing on this blog about a stone found in 1997:
(I even went back to look for it again but didn't get any better photos of the boulder - and I guess I "reconstructed" this possible feature - I found the stone had probably been washed off the stone in what is termed a 100 year flood and plucked it out of the washed in sedement:
I put it back where I thought had originally found it:
I guess I should go back and correct my mistake...

These were interesting search results: 
     "PREHISTORIC quartz quarries and chipping stations are not commonly described from this area.  One such is here described, and the nature and extent of the workings are identified and defined.  Techniques of the ancient quarriers are inferred from the excavated evidence, and a chronological placement is advanced.       Steatite, schist, and graphite quarries presumably dating to very ancient times have been identified by numerous researchers in the Northeast (R. P. Bullen, 1940; W. S. Fowler, 1943; W. J. Howes, 1944; and G. C. Dunn, 1945).  These materials were widely sought and traded by Amerinds, apparently in preceramic times.       Less frequently cited are quartz quarries, probably because float quartz and other durable silicates are widely dispersed in the glacial drift of southern New England.  Nevertheless, especially attractive outcrops of quartz were worked by the aborigines from time to time.  I here describe one such site, and the nature and extent of its workings…Observations of the outcrop itself, and of the tailings, cores, and blanks support the inference that the ancient quarriers concentrated mainly on breaking out large pieces of quartz along natural cracks.  Rough flake scars and negative bulbs of percussion, many still traceable on working faces in situ at the quarry, suggest that percussive methods of extraction were paramount.  Presence of numerous cores with naturally formed striking and anvil platforms is advanced as one of two main reasons the aborigines chose to work this site.  The other is thought to be availability of large, flat, homogeneous pieces of quartz, typified by the "quarry blades" shown in Plate II B..."

     "Samp Mortar is the small town park located at the end of Springer Rd in Fairfield, CT. The rock is schist and there are many good problems and variation located in this bouldering area. Along the walk into Samp Mortar you will find at the top of the hill just before the boulder field, the aboriginal quartz quarry...Hike up over the hill, past the aboriginal quartz mine, and down into the glen with the large boulders.  ~
W. Barlow Hill (1863-1898), a local teacher, was moved to poetry here:
“Speak! Silent rock, and tell me thy mysterious tale...”
Samp Mortar Rock, a seven-acre parcel, is marked by giant boulders, rocky trails and legendary tales of a Native American princess. 

Photo: Ron Blumenfeld;Contributed Photo, Contributed Photo

ON a cold November day, as the workmen of Mr. J. D. Fish were grading upon the banks of Lake Norwood, they came upon the skeleton of an Indian, which must have been interred there at least two hundred years ago. The farm of Mr. Fish is in the west part of the town of Stonington, Ct., in the beautiful valley threaded by Misbuxet brook and cove. The cove has been dammed, the tide water shut out, and now furnishes water for a steam factory. This narrow valley was the favorite seaside resort of the Pequot Indians, and without much doubt the site of a populous village. It is exceedingly rich in Indian relics, and the traces of the former occupants are still abundant Granite ledges rise abruptly from the plain, and around the base of these rocks, and along the banks of the cove, are immense deposits of the shells of clams, quahaugs, scollops, mussels, and oysters, with the charcoal of their extinct fires still remaining among the debris. In a swale, a little back from the cove, was a boiling spring, which has been covered

'Lo. The Poor. Indian.


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  2. Hello!
    Thank you for the information about the Samp Mortar Rock area. My backyard backs up in between the Samp Mortar Open Space and the Mtn. Laurel Open Space. Soon after moving here, I cut a trail in the back of our yard connecting the two open spaces. It runs at the base of a 70-80 foot rock face which I think is even more interesting than the Samp Mortar face -- although no mortars or artifacts found yet! (My neighbor did unearth a quart arrowhead a few years back.) If you're ever back in the area, please feel free to get in touch. I would love to hear your perspective on “our” rock face and the area.
    Gordon Brune
    723 Mountain Laurel Road
    Fairfield, CT