The final meeting of the Applied Archaeology Graduate Colloquium for Spring semester was an April 28 field trip to the Scripture Rocks Heritage Park in Brookville. Tom Glover of the North Fork Chapter 29 of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology led the group on a tour of the heritage park, which opened last year after several years of work to develop it by chapter members. Ken Burkett, Director of the Jefferson County Historical Society also helped facilitate the tour.
The Scripture Rocks Heritage Park tells the story of Douglas Stahlman who in the early twentieth century (ca. 1908-1913) dedicated rocks in the forest outside Brookville by engraving biblical verses on their surfaces. Stahlman, who also led prayer services at the site and lived in a cabin on one of the larger rocks, eventually was sent to Dixmont State Hospital, where he died in 1942. However, since that time he has become a local folk figure who is known to have dedicated more than 500 rocks near Brookville, and the tragic story of his life is part of local lore.
Over the years, most of the rocks had become covered with vegetation and their locations lost. The work of North Fork Chapter members has uncovered a large group of them along Route 28 on the edge of town. Today there is a trail and signage telling the story of Stahlman and his scripture rocks. The Jefferson County Historical Society will be offering programs at the site every Sunday this summer starting May 28 (http://www.scripturerocks.com/weekly-programs.html ).
IUP archaeology graduate students and faculty enjoyed learning about the geology and history of these scripture rocks as well as hearing about the struggles to make this local heritage park a reality.