Thursday, November 11, 2010

Alibate Flint Quarry

About 35 miles north of Amarillo is the Alibate Flint Quarry National Historical Site, so guess where we went today. The site has a brand new visitor center, they have a short 12 minute film about the site and a small museum with displays about the site. The quarry itself is about 2 miles from the visitors center and is only accessible with a ranger during a tour. They do two tours a day 10am and 2pm, during the busy season it's good to call and make reservations, today for the 2pm tour there were only three of us so we got a lot of extra time with the ranger to ask questions.

Shows the various colors in the flint
Alibate Flint is very unique because of its rainbow of colors and is only found in this quarry. They have evidence that this flint was mined as much as 13000 years ago, they have found spear heads made from the flint embedded in the bones of mastodons that dated back that far. Pieces of the flint have been found on the coast of California, as far north and east as Minnesota and on the Gulf Coast. The reason for this is that it was used as a trade item. Flint is harder then steel and when chipped properly sharper then glass, in the hands of the right person if was made in to arrowheads, spearheads, knifes, skinning tools and hatchets.

Part of the trail

For our tour we followed the ranger in or vehicles two miles to the trail head, once there we hiked about a half mile to the top of the plateau where the quarries are. The quarries are just small indentations into the ground, about ten feet in diameter and now only about a foot deep, originally they would have been 5 to 8 feet deep. They would dig down and chip off the flint making what is called trade stones of about two pounds each, these thy would trade with other tribes for what ever they needed. We made about four stops on the hike so the ranger could explain different thing to us, the tour lasted about 90 minutes. It was a very enjoyable and education day, one of the many things that we learned was that it's a FEDERAL FELONY to remove any flint from the quarry.

This is a Trade Stone about 6-8 inches long and about two pounds.

This is a piece of scrape that was at the side of one of the quarry's, about five inches long.

They told us that this entire valley used to be a lake until a dam was built.

This was a boat ramp before the dam was built, now there is no water anywhere near it.

1 comment:

Margie and Roger said...

That flint is absolutely gorgeous. Roger bought some flint when we were out west and plans to try his luck at making some arrowheads.