Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ancient Tulsa (Turkey Mt and area)

In doing some elective research on Turkey Mountain, I stumbled onto an article on It's a LONG read, but these three sections were of particular interest to me.

Geological Notes
The view from the high ridges of Chandler Park changes as you look in each direction. To the north, just below the ridge, runs the Arkansas River. Water flows from west to east, along the natural bend in the river. The bed of the river is wide, indicating a normally slow flow along the bend. On the north side of the river is the Charles Page Boulevard area, known to many people as the Sand Springs Line. The “Line” came from the Sand Springs trolley cars that ran along the north bank from 1911 to 1957. To the east is a great view of what we call Lookout Mountain, the flatland of West Tulsa and Garden City. In the distance to the east is Turkey Mountain. On the east bank of the river is downtown Tulsa and beyond. A clear day offers a view reaching out far into the distance. To the south is the rolling prairie land of Red Fork, Carbondale, Opportunity Heights, South Haven and Oakhurst. Just below Chandler Park is Berryhill, small but growing. On the southwest corner view is a series of ridges between Berryhill, Sand Springs and Sapulpa. At one time the area was trees and rocks, but it has given way to development of many kinds as the new millennium began. For most people the view of this area would be enough to satisfy their curiosity. But there is much more to the complex makeup under the thin surface. Why are there ridges here in the first place? Why is the river bending and shallow? Why did they look for, and find oil and gas all over the west side? We asked the members of the Tulsa Geological Society for a description of the west side from their point of view. What can they tell us about how this place came to be like it is today?

Archeological Notes
Looking at Southwest Tulsa as far back as 12,000 years ago, Jenks resident William M. O’Brien has found physical evidence of life here. “I have heard that materials taken from a nearby petroglyph site have been dated to about 12,000 B.C.,” he wrote in “The Presence.” In February 1986, he was shown mortar holes in bedrock and a petroglyph of a right foot in Jenks. “Over the past decade, I have pursued a theory that some of these (mortar) holes were used by early cultures as reference points for establishing astronomical alignments,” he said. He asserts that during 8,450 B.C. a cataclysmic disaster, possibly an asteroid, snuffed out many plants and animals and it caused massive ecological change to surface 1,000- 1,500 years later. Further, from 1,500 B.C. to the Early Historic Period, that an inscription carved in rock in this area, shows that early Europeans ventured here. “They were Celts, Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Libyians. They came from Tarshish in Spain, Carthage, upper and lower, Egypt, England, Ireland and many other parts in Europe,” he wrote. O’Brien is critical of textbooks which credit the finding of the New World to Columbus and go on from there. He places the boulder pictured here as 3,000 or more years old. He calls it the “most significant petroglyph.” An inscription near the Arkansas River says a man named Gwynn carved it and he had fair hair and white skin. “Gwynn probably came from Spain on a Phoenician vessel around 500 B.C.” An inscription in north Tulsa has been translated Dec. 10, 1022. Drawings on cave walls appear to be left by Indians—Comanches, Kiowas or Pawnee. They show three warriors on horses and one on foot. Horses were beginning to be introduced in Wyoming in 1690, and the gun was adopted by Indians around 1700. The cave drawings don’t show guns.

Anthropological Notes
The Mooser Creek basin holds evidence which may date to a period from the birth of Christ to 900 A.D. Possibly the site of a Woodland village, the area has stone tools, grinding sets, and cryptic rock designs, according to Jean Sinclair of the Tulsa Archaeological Society. The grinding tools are mortar holes shaped like an inverted cone in rock, monos or rock hand tools, and rock matates or table surfaces. The most spectacular so far is a 6-8 tabular surface, previously broken. “It is certainly the most speculative,” she said. Some of the rocks are enclosed to prevent vandalism and tampering. The Society would love to have access to all of the site to dig ten test holes for other artifacts, but have so far been limited to the public segment of the area.

Sinclair urges those interested in these finds to be cautious about their conclusions. For instance, she points out, what woman would want to scoop ground flour out of the tight point of the stone mortar? A deep bent line in one rock may represent the bend in the Arkansas River or it may be something else. State Archaeologist Dr. Brooks Odell saw the rock markings and is baffled by their meaning. The society feels the evidence points to a large long occupation or possibly a village in that Turkey Mountain forest. “We have concerns about (Indian) pot hunters,” she said. The area needs to be treated with respect, and the artifacts not moved or damaged. Several individuals put on an “enrichment cluster” at Remington Elementary last spring where they demonstrated shucking corn, grinding it and fire building. Dr. Don Wycoth showed flint-knapping. The cluster was so popular that it drew youngsters from other clusters. Speaking of flint, Sinclair has a flint-edged scraper from the area. The closest place to find flint in those days was what is today Kansas.

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