Native American Indians

Archeologists have found evidence of rhyolite quarry sites and base camps related to hunting or kill sites in Catoctin Mountain Park. The mountain's resources provided Native Americans with materials for tools, animals for food and clothing, and a variety of nuts and berries that were gathered as an additional food source.

Catoctin Mountain became an important source of rhyolite, a valued material in making lithic tools, during the Archaic Period, 8,000 to 1,200 B.C., with the most active period during the Woodland Period, 1,200 B.C. to A.D. 1600. Between A.D. 200 to A.D. 900, Catoctin experienced a very active period in stone quarrying and the production of lithic tools. There were no year round residences in the area, temporary base camps were used where a source of potable water was relatively near a quarry site. Usually large rough "blanks" were taken from the quarry site and finishing work was performed by the flint knappers at the base camps.

Rhyolite tools have been found as far away as coastal Virginia and New York. The closest source of rhyolite is a belt that runs from Gettysburg, PA., through Catoctin, to Harpers Ferry, WV., indicating that people traveled great distances to quarry stone and practiced trade.

After A.D. 900, the quarrying of rhyolite in Catoctin abruptly ends. At the same time, there is evidence that permanent, year round residences begin to appear in the area, although there had been no evidence discovered to indicate there were any year round residences in the park.

An arrowhead from the Catoctin Mountain Park museum collection.
Native American Indian arrowhead from the Catoctin Mountain Park museum collection.

NPS Photo

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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