8.08.2009

Alibates Flint

At dinner last night, we scrolled through the list of nearby attractions on Jeepers, our Garmin GPS. And that's how we learned about the Alibates Flint Quarries.



This unique flint attracted people to the dry and windswept plains of the Texas Panhandle as long ago as 12,000 years. Before the Great Lakes even formed, Indians of the Ice Age Clovis Culture used Alibates flint for spear points to hunt Imperial Mammoth.


Now, isn't that an image to grab your imagination? So we plotted our course, and first thing this morning, headed out. And this was definitely one of the more interesting things we did on vacation: visiting this one-of-a-kind site where Native Americans of many tribes came to harvest their flint, later used to fashion arrowheads, spear heads, scrapers.

Lake Meridith and the fling quarries are pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, and when we arrived at the national park site, there was no one there. Hmmm... we drove to the end of the road, and enjoyed meeting a Box turtle on our way back. This time, there was someone at the visitor center. As the man unlocked the door, we asked about a tour. Lucky for us (since you had to book tours in advance), he was there to meet a couple of men who'd booked a tour, and let us tag along.

If you're ever near Amarillo, I highly recommend taking a couple of hours and doing this nature walk. It's pretty amazing, walking in the footsteps of so many who've been here over the centuries. We got to handle the different colors of flint and see several different pits where they dug down below the limestone cap rock to access the thick layers of agatized dolomite. The ground is littered with discarded bits of flint, gorgeously colored, from pale striped to purple, to reds and greens. We were told it's unique in the world.

In this photo, the red piece is a bit smaller than my fist, about 3 inches across.

They have one ranger on staff who has learned the fine art of crafting arrowheads and spear points from this flint. He can sit and chat with people on his tours, while striking out an arrowhead, right in front of their eyes. That would be cool to see!

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