By RAYMOND H. TORREY
I have been rebuked, more in sorrow than anger, as far as I can make out, for publicity given to the “Indian rock carvings” near Bloomingburg, N.Y., in Northwestern Orange County, by Charles E. Harris of Mount Vernon, whose family owns the piece of woods surrounding the ledge on which the figures appear. Mr. Harris says the family has been so bothered by visitors who picnic there and leave rubbish and garbage that if they don't leave the place clean, “we will destroy the rock.”
Says Harrises Didn't Carve
In the first place, I didn't start the publicity. It was begun in the Middletown Press-Herald, in a spread, based on an account of the carvings by two hunters who stopped at the spring near the ledge and whose eyes bulged out when they saw the figures. They told the first reporter they saw about it and he wrote a wonderful tale, interpreting the figures as portraying some saga of the Iroquois – though the figures are Sioux or other Western Indian. Then the Historical Society of Middletown and the Wallkill Precinct made a pilgrimage to the rock, marveled and apparently accepted the figures as genuine.
All this started motorists trekking to the place, getting stuck in the clay road when it was wet, and putting a few dollars in the pockets of farmers nearby, hauling them out. I didn't get in on the story until last June, when W.L. Coulter of Middletown, took me to see the rock. I felt sure the figures were recent, made as a prank by some one, and Thomas Meade, who lives nearby, said that the Harris boys, whose folks have a summer bungalow on Shawangunk Kill, carved the figures with their father’s chisel. Mr. Meade’s language about visitors who think the carvings genuine is almost too picturesque for reporting verbatim.
The figures were obviously made with a sharp steel chisel, not by any Indian stone implement; they are Western Indian in design, and, furthermore, Eastern Indians rarely if ever cut figures in stone; they hadn't the tools, though they painted pictographs in red ochre occasionally.
But Charles Harris denies any one in his family did the carvings, and he is entitled to his account of the matter. He writes:
Visitors Are a Nuisance
“I have recently learned that you are giving instructions for getting to the Indian Rock in Burlingham, N.Y. You seem to know quite a lot about this rock: Its origin, who owns it, who discovered it, and so forth. You mention a Tom Meade knowing about it also. If I remember correctly, he has only lived here for about four years. You also mention a Mr. Harris, who has a cottage up there and whose sons (so you hint) are the originators of the carvings.
“Mr. Harris has had a cottage in that locality for about ten years. Fifteen years ago he was a stranger there and had not thought of spending his summers there. We have owned the Harris farm, where the carvings are, for over thirty years, and as long as I can remember those carvings were there. The farm belongs to Walter R. Harris. I can swear to the fact that neither Mr. Alfred Harris (whom you mentioned) nor his sons have ever had the least bit to do with the rock or carvings. If you are going to pose as a guide, why on earth don't you find out what you are talking about before you talk?
“Strangers are sent up to the rock. They have picnics there and they throw garbage around. They break off pieces of the rock to take home. They cut trees, carve their initials on trees and the rock and in other ways destroy the property. [We noted additional figures scratched on the rock when we were there in June, but this was before we wrote anything about the subject.] That was the sole reason for not opening it to the public twenty-five years ago. [We saw no evidences of vandalism last June; the place is 4 miles from Route 17 and a dirt road and only a determined relic hunter would get in there.]
“We also resent the talk about the rock, past eight or ten years, butt are getting sick and tired of it now. They have caused hundreds of dollars of damage in cut fences and leaving bars down to let cattle out. [We got in through an open gate in a stone wall and followed a little worn path to the ledge; there was no fence that would hold cattle.] Signs don’t mean anything to them. If they or their guides don’t have the decency to get permission to go on the farm, we will keep them off. If they don’t get permission to enter and if they don’t leave the place clean and unblemished, we will destroy the rock. It may be a drastic method and it may make us sound mean and small, but it is really the last resort.
“We also resent the talk about the rock. Some people say we have put the carvings there for publicity. If that were so, we would have advertised them twenty-five years ago. As it is, they were known to only about twenty people until some busy-body saw them and advertised the fact. As it is, they have overlooked the only thing about the rock that we thought was worth mention. No one so far has noticed that item. [We can't imagine what Mr. Harris means, but have asked him.]
“If you receive any more inquiries about the rock, please tell them they must have permission and to get in touch with the owners.” O.K. Glad to oblige. But who made those carvings?
By Raymond H. Torrey
Allen W. Temple, corresponding secretary of the Mohawk Valley hiking club of Schenectady, N.Y., has sent me copies of two bulletins on hiking equipment and on a food list for a three-day hike which will be interesting to camping hikers and which seems to me worth sharing with them. This club is one of the most active in real hiking in Northern New York and has gained much experience on the trails. As its Bulletin No. 1 on equipment says, “proper equipment adds so much to the pleasure and comfort of hiking” that the club members’ experience is worth spreading. The names of makers will be given by Mr. Temple, whose address is R.F.D. 1, Western Avenue, Albany, N.Y.
Hiking Equipment Suggested
“Shoes: Shoes should be stout, water-proof, not over 12 inches high and large enough to go on over two pairs of woolen socks.” (Rubber-bottom shoes seem to be preferred by this club.)
“Socks: Two pairs of woolen socks, one light and heavy weight.
“Trousers: Dark-colored woolen trousers or breeches for winter, light-weight woolen or khaki trousers, dungarees or shorts for summer.
“Underwear: Light-weight woolen or cotton, according to the season.
“Shirts: Light-weight woolen or cotton, two or more, rather than one heavy weight.
“Handkerchief: Large red bandana.
“Gloves: Woolen mitt inside leather mitt for cold weather.
“Parka: Balloon silk or sail cloth (pattern from club).
“Pack: Two-strap pack.
“Cooking equipment: Army or Scout mess kit, army canteen, knife, fork, spoons, can opener, enamel cup, waterproof match case.
“Accessories: Compass, maps, jack-knife or hunting knife, first aid kit.
“For overnight hikes: Sleeping bag (pattern from club) or blankets, ground cloth, balloon silk tent, flashlight.”
Food List for Three Days
Bulletin No. 2 suggests the following menu for a three-day hike, which has been used successfully by Mohawk Valley hikers. Individual preferences will suggest suitable alterations and it may be repeated for longer hikes.
Breakfast: No. 1, bacon, 4 slices; 2 eggs, flaked; 1 roll, 1 ounce butter, ½ ounce coffee, ½ ounce milk, 1 ounce sugar. No. 2, prunes, 3 ounces; 2 ounces bread, 1 ounce jam, ½ ounce coffee and milk, ½ ounce sugar. No. 3, honey, 2 ounces; 1 ounce cereal, 2 ounce roll, 1 ounce butter, coffee and milk, ½ ounce each; 1 ounce sugar.
Lunches: No. 1, 2 ounces prunes, 2 ounces caramel, 1 ounce nuts, 3 ounces fruit cookies. No. 2, 2 ounces figs, 2 ounces caramel, 1 ounce nuts, 3 ounces fruit cookies. No. 3, 2 ounces raisins, 2 ounces chocolate, 1 ounce nuts, 3 ounces cruller or fruit cookies.
Suppers: No. 1, 1 ounce macaroni, 2 slices bacon, 2 ounces cheese, tablet of tea, 2 ounces bread, 1 ounce jam, 1 ounce sugar. No. 2, 2-egg omelet, 1-ounce onion, coffee, milk, sugar, 2 ounces; 2 ounces bread, 1 ounce honey, 1 ounce butter?, 1 ounce bacon. No. 3, 4 ounces pancake flour, 10 ounces corn, 2 ounces jam, 1 ounce bacon, tea, 1 ounce sugar.
Six Pounds or Three Days8
The total weight of this condensed food is 6 pounds, which is certainly light enough, but the items contain little water, and can be carried in canvas bags or other light containers. As a whole, for three days, it may be listed as follows:
Four teaspoonfuls powdered coffee, four tablets tea, twenty-four small lumps sugar, two ounces dried milk, four ounces pancake flour, eight ounces raisin cookies, three seed rolls, eight ounces nut whole wheat bread, two ounces cereal, four ounces honey, four ounces strawberry jam, four ounce bar of butter, five ounces large dried prunes, two ounces seedless raisins, two ounces figs, four ounces elbow macaroni, four ounces American cheese, ten ounces whole kernel corn, one onion, six flaked eggs, four ounces bar chocolate, six ounces caramel, three ounces mixed nuts, and five ounces sliced bacon.
The Mohawk Valley Hiking Club cooperates in the maintenance of the Christman Wild Life Sanctuary and in the Educational Assembly; it is engaged in marking the Long Path of New York from Gilboa Dam to Lake Placid, and it maintains the Helderhills Leanto, near Schenectady, for hikers. It is also a member of the Schenectady County Conservation Council and the County Council on Adult Education.