Where’d all the arrowheads go?
Frustrated Red Rock Canyon archeologist appeals to private collectors
It’s been a little frustrating in recent months for Crystal Hills archeologist Steve Snyder.
Hired by the city of Colorado Springs Parks & Recreation Department to do an archaelogical study as an element of the Red Rock Canyon Open Space management plan, he had hoped to find remnants of the Utes and other tribes who were known to roam these parts 6,000 years before the first white explorers. Despite careful on-foot traversing of all but the steepest slopes in the roughly 790-acre property, he said he has found only scant evidence of their presence.
He thinks he knows why. One reason is centuries of erosion down the several canyons in the park; another is the human activity, such as the quarry and the landfill, which probably covered up some artifacts.
But possibly the main reason, he said, is that the area “has been picked pretty clean” over the years by souvenir hunters… despite having been private property until late last year.
He's not looking to get trespassers in trouble. He'd just like to know what's been found there. That's why he's putting out an appeal in the WestsidePioneer for any local Indiana Joneses to step forward - anonymously, if need be.
Also, collectors aren't being asked to give up their treasures. Snyder would just like to be able to photograph their finds and receive a description of where they were located.
He's already seen some such collections, indicating that at one time there were a fair number of artifacts, principally tips of spears or arrows, in Red Rock Canyon as well as the Westside as a whole. One of his favorites is a large projectile point, evidently from a spear made of petrified wood, from a western-Indian archeological period ranging from 7,000 years ago to 250 AD (the time before the bow and arrow).
According to the collector Snyder met with, the point was found in the canyon within Red Rock Canyon that also bears that name.
The earliest finds in this region, made in the Garden of the Gods, have been dated back to 6,000 years, Snyder said.
The more such discoveries are brought forward, the more they “will add to our understanding of the Westside,” Snyder said.
He offered an appeal to people with artifacts: “If grandpa's collection is no use, we'd be happy to take them to the Pikes Peak Museum or Rockledge Ranch and have them curated by university people and professionals. They can compare what's already been found and get a better idea of the cultures that lived here.”
The one unscoured site Snyder found in Red Rock Canyon is located just south of the old landfill that operated about 30 years and closed in 1986. It was a hunting camp where Indians were making tools at an unknown time in the pre-European era, he said.
The finds included four rock flakes and the tip of a hard quartzite tool that evidently had been used to chip the rocks into useful shapes such as arrowheads.
Snyder hopes that public feedback will help solve a couple of other mysteries at Red Rock Canyon. One regards the “circular fortifications” that the Ute Indians supposedly had built along the hogback running along the east side of the property. An early- 20th century book by Irving Howbert, one of the leaders of early Colorado Springs, describes them. However, Snyder said he has found no clear sign of them.
The other mystery is the origin of a roughly 150-meter wall of rocks that runs on either side of the old landfill road coming in from 26th Street. Only on close perusal is it evident the rocks were hand-moved at one time. Snyder said it's possible they were put there for some long-ago battle, but “more likely” they were placed by a sheepherder concerned about losing a flock.
Westside Pioneer Article