Seneca Rocks Geology
Five hundred and fifty million years ago, a vast mountain range was located where the Atlantic coast is today. Rivers and streams gradually wore the mountains down carrying pebbles, sand and silt westward, dropping them into a sea on the area now called West Virginia. For millions of years material was washed into the sea and settled into layers on the sea floor. Four hundred million years ago, the weight of the accumulated layers compacted and cemented the sediment into rock. The Tuscarora Sandstone, which Seneca Rocks is made of, is one of these layers.
History of Seneca Rocks
The first settlers were Native Americans. Some evidence indicates that Native Americans from the Woodland Period lived here at Seneca Rocks. Two Woodland villages dating 600 and 800 years ago were located here at Seneca. This area was a meeting place for tribes as well as a hunting ground. The famous Seneca Trail followed the Potomac River, allowing the Algonquin, Tuscarora and Seneca tribes to trade and make war on each other. As the Native Americans moved along the trail, they must have used the prominent rocks of Champe and Seneca as landmarks.
The first European settlers to the region appeared about the year 1746. The first settlers were preceded by a few mountain men and escaped indentured servants running from Virginia plantations. As time went on, the wilderness rapidly receded to the west. By the time of the Civil War, the Native Americans had been driven out of the area. The Civil War era was difficult for the residents of Pendleton County. A little over half the residents were southern sympathizers, the rest were loyal to the north. In this county, brother fought brother, neighbors became enemies, and people we ambushed and killed because of their politics. At the conclusion of the war, the State of West Virginia was carved from Virginia and the residents of the Seneca region returned to a slow and settled rural lifestyle.
No one is sure who the first modern climber was, however Paul Brandt, Don Hubbard and Sam Moore reached the top of the south peak in 1938 and found the inscription “D.B. September 16, 1908”. D.B. may have been D. Bittenger, a civil engineer surveying the area for the Nation Park Service. Thousands of climbers have scaled the cliffs since then, including the men of the 10th Mountain Division who trained here during World War II.
Directions and more information can be found at the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center.
Along the trail to the observation platform there are a number of informational signs.
Fill in the blanks for any three of the signs and email me the answers:
(Only three are needed due to the fact that some of the signs might be missing.)
1. Seneca Rocks Trail
___ miles to observation platform. ____ foot elevation gain via steps and switchbacks.
2. Geology underlies it all
The soaring cliffs of Seneca Rocks are made up of Tuscarora Sandstone or ________
3. Where did these rocks come from?
The group of rocks before you is made up of boulders that have fallen from above and is called a __________.
4. Den Tree
While you might not want to hide (or live) in this tree, a _______ would find this a perfect home.
5. Boulder Train
This “____________” is slowly moving downhill.
6. Soil Creep
Here you can see evidence of the slow movement by looking at the __________.
7. Iron Ore?
This succession of _______________ indicated that the sea level fluctuated greatly at the time of deposition.
Many lichens live for 50 years but some species can actually live for _____ years.
9. Vegetation change
_____ and _____ are more abundant in higher elevations…
Post a picture of yourself in front of the sign on the hill above the observation deck.
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