April 10, 2013

4/7/13 - Alibates Flint Quarries NM

Up in the Texas panhandle, next to the dehydrating Lake Meredith, is a site where a unique type of flint is found.  Prehistoric Indians dug the flint way during the ice age to make spears to kill Imperial Mammoths.  (I'm pretty sure that isn't why mammoths are now extinct, although it might explain the early demise of prehistoric Indians.)

The only way you can visit Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument is on a ranger-guided tour.  There are usually two a day, but you have to call for reservations. 

The volunteer/ranger/tour guide led a caravan of us to the locked gate (if you can call his Jeep, another Jeep and our truck a caravan--there were only 5 of us!)  We followed him up a dirt road to the trailhead where he explained to us that Alibates flint is high quality, making it good for arrowheads, spears and tools. 

Found in the dolomite along the ridges above the Canadian River, it's also beautiful, with streaks of different colors like petrified wood.  No wonder it was used for trade goods.  (If I was an Indian woman and my Indian man was going to trade the yucca baskets I'd made for hunks of rock, I'd insist on pretty rocks instead of those plain gray ones--especially if he was going to make me carry them!)
Our guide is an archeologist, and is in charge of a planned dig next year to excavate more flint quarries, so he told us lots of cool stuff that's planned for the park.  One of the women in our tour group is a flint knapper, and the other woman had worked here years ago.  Between the 3 of them, I was able to get lots of answers to my (standard) lots of questions.
Flint Cache

Yucca seed pods
Heading back down the trail

It's an interesting place to visit, but within a couple of years there will be more to see.  Besides the excavations of more of the quarry sites, they have other plans in the works for the 50th anniversary of the monument in 2015.
More pictures of the monument here:  Alibates Flint Quarries Natl Monument 

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