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Archaeological tour slated

Autumn Phillips

— When a little girl found an arrowhead on Rabbit Ears Pass in 1994, she could have put it in her pocket and walked away, unknowingly cheating the Yampa Valley out of 3,000 years of archeological knowledge. Instead, she left it where she found it, marked the spot and called the Forest Service.

That arrowhead, called the Folsum point, changed the way archeologists saw the history of the area.

“Until then, we had artifacts dating back 8,000 years,” said Candice Lombardo, executive director of the Tread of Pioneers Museum. “The Folsum point dates back 11,000 years and it changed the face of prehistory around here.”

The stone used to make the Folsum point came from a nearby quarry, now marked as the Windy Ridge archeological site. On Friday, Lombardo will take a number of interested hikers to the spot for a guided prehistorical tour.

The location of the site is often protected in order to keep the evidence of the past intact, but Lombardo believes visiting the site as part of a guided tour will encourage respect for the area.

“It’s definitely a sensitive area. It’s a great archeological resource,” Lombardo said. “To be able to date the material found there, it needs to remain in context and not be moved by hikers.

“If a flake is taken, we lose all that information.”

Windy Ridge is a prehistoric quarry site used by the Native Americans to excavate stone for the making of tools. The quarry holds a large reserve of quartzite — metamorphosed sandstone. The rock is easily broken for the making of tools.

Some tools were made elsewhere, but many tools were made on site, leaving flakes behind as evidence.

“Quarries like this are few and far between,” Lombardo said. “It’s like a prehistoric hardware store. The survival of those who lived 11,000 years ago depended on the tools they made.”

On Friday’s tour, attendees will examine casts of the points found at Windy Ridge as well as visit an excavation pit left by archeologists.

“We gave a Brown Bag lecture on the archeological perspective of the Yampa Valley and it was so popular, I decided this was the time to lead this tour,” Lombardo said. “It’s also a very beautiful hike.”

The hike is six miles round trip. Participants need to be in shape and need to be able to hike at elevation. Hikers will meet at 9 a.m. at the Tread of Pioneers Museum and return by 3 p.m. The tour is free. Bring water, food and sunscreen.

RSVP by calling 879-2214.

— To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com


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