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The Ancient Track Rock Petroglyphs in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

Track Rock Sign

Visitors to the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests have a unique opportunity to view a large collection of petroglyphs.

Track Rock Sign
The sign indicating the Track Rock Archaeological Area where you can visit the petroglyphs.

What is a petroglyph?

Track Rock Information Panel
Track Rock Information Panel

The first question a reader may have is, just what a petroglyph is. According to the National Park Service “Petroglyphs are rock carvings (rock paintings are called pictographs) made by pecking directly on the rock surface using a stone chisel and a hammerstone.”

How old are they?

Track Rock Gap is located between Thunderstruck Mountain and Buzzard Roost Ridge near the
town of Blairsville in Union County, Georgia. Here, more than 1,000 years ago, Creek and
Cherokee peoples created the soapstone carvings we now enjoy today.

Considered one of the most significant rock art sites in the Southeastern United States, Track
Rock features a diverse grouping of more than 100 figures.

What do they mean?

Track Rock Petroglyph
A legend to some of the markings found on the petroglyphs.

Archaeologists do not believe Track Rock to have had a singular purpose or to have been carved in a singular period; rather, the carvings were made over time and for differing reasons. Some of them may symbolize or commemorate a particular event that happened. Others may have to do with rituals and ceremonies. As the National Park Service states

Furthermore, the setting of Track Rock in a gap places it at a threshold. In numerous Cherokee stories, footprints and tracks signify an in-between or transitional state or condition. More specifically, rocks with footprints and tracks signified the area of transition, a doorway or threshold, into the domain of dangerous spirit beings.

Depictions of footprints and tracks are not only physical testimony that spirit beings were there some time in the past, but that they could still be lingering somewhere close-by in the present, and that they may return unexpectedly at any time in the future.

How do I visit?

You can easily visit this amazing archaeological site. There is no entry or parking fee charged.

You can reach Track Rock Gap by taking US 129 to Blairsville, then US 76 east about five
miles. At the signs for Track Rock Gap Road, turn right for about two miles to the gap. Their
location in the gap makes stopping beside the boulders very dangerous.

Drive on through the gap, noting the Track Rocks on the right, and look for the small parking lot
on your right. Park there and take the trail back to the gap, safely from traffic. The trail is not
long or strenuous but it is through a wooded area so proper footwear is suggested. The path can
be slippery depending upon weather conditions.

Carvings visible in the rock
While not photographed at the best lighting, carvings are still visible in this rock.

The NPS suggests visiting when sunlight is at a low angle. Consider visiting either early morning or late in the day. Brighter sunlight makes viewing the  petroglyphs more difficult. If you click the link below to learn more about the site there are convenient fact and description sheets available to help you navigate the site.

Remember, leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photos. Let’s make sure this sacred site is available for the next thousand years.

How can I learn more?

To learn more about the petroglyphs visit the forest service site here.

Learn more about the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) by visiting the National Park Service page here.

You can learn more on the subject by reading the account “An Archaeological and
Ethnohistorical Appraisal of a Piled Stone feature Complex in the Mountains of North Georgia”
published in the journal Early Georgia (Vol. 38, No. 1, p. 29-50) in 2010 by archaeologists
Johannes Loubser and Douglas Frink. Check with your local librarian to see if any of their
databases carry this journal.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may
receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views
and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors
providing products.

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University Press of Florida Announces Their Fall 2021 Catalog

Picturing the Space Shuttle book cover

The University Press of Florida has released their Fall 2021 catalog and there are some titles that history
enthusiasts should take note of. I have not posted all the interesting titles, allowing you to make
discoveries on your own. This cycle is heavy on archaeology. As always with academic press books, the
hardcover prices can be quite steep. Watch their website for promotions and check Amazon and others
for price discounts.

Picturing the Space Shuttle: The Early Years written by John Bisney and J. L. Pickering. September release. ISBN 9781683402053, $45.

Showcasing over 450 unpublished and lesser-known images, this book traces the growth of the Space Shuttle from 1965 to 1982, from initial concept through its first four space flights. The photographs offer windows into designing the first reusable space vehicle as well as the construction and testing of the prototype shuttle Enterprise. They also show the factory assembly and delivery of the Space Shuttle Columbia, preparations at the major NASA field centers, and astronaut selection and training. Finally, the book devotes a chapter to each of the first four orbital missions, STS-1 through STS-4, providing an abundance of seldom-seen photos for each flight.

 

The Nine Lives of Florida’s Famous Key Marco Cat written by Austin J. Bell. September release. ISBN 9780813066998, $26.95.

Excavated from a waterlogged archaeological site on the shores of subtropical Florida by legendary anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing in 1896, the Key Marco Cat has become a modern icon of heritage, history, and local identity. This book takes readers into the deep past of the artifact and the Native American society in which it was created.

 

 

 

Unearthing the Missions of Spanish Florida edited by Tanya M. Peres and Rochelle A. Marrinan. November release. ISBN 9781683402510, $90.

This volume presents new data and interpretations from research at Florida’s Spanish missions, outposts established in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to strengthen the colonizing empire and convert Indigenous groups to Christianity. In these chapters, archaeologists, historians, and ethnomusicologists draw on the past thirty years of work at sites from St. Augustine to the panhandle.

 

New in paperback:

Public Health Nurses of Jim Crow Florida written by Christine Ardalan. November release. ISBN
9780813066158, $24.95.

Highlighting the long unacknowledged role of a group of pioneering professional women, The Public Health Nurses of Jim Crow Florida tells the story of healthcare workers who battled racism in a state where white supremacy formed the bedrock of society. They aimed to serve those people out of reach of modern medical care.

 

 

 

Queering the Redneck Riviera: Sexuality and the Rise of Florida Tourism written by Jerry T. Watkins III. April 2022 release. ISBN 9780813056913, $24.95.

Queering the Redneck Riviera recovers the forgotten and erased history of gay men and lesbians in North Florida, a region often overlooked in the story of the LGBTQ experience in the United States. Jerry Watkins reveals both the challenges these men and women faced in the years following World War II and the essential role they played in making the Emerald Coast a major tourist destination.

 

 

 

Fort St. Joseph Revealed: The Historical Archaeology of a Fur Trading Post edited by Michael S. Nassaney. November release. ISBN 9780813068497, $26.95.

Fort St. Joseph Revealed is the first synthesis of archaeological and documentary data on one of the most important French colonial outposts in the western Great Lakes region. Located in what is now Michigan, Fort St. Joseph was home to a flourishing fur trade society from the 1680s to 1781. Material evidence of the site—lost for centuries—was discovered in 1998 by volume editor Michael Nassaney and his colleagues, who summarize their extensive excavations at the fort and surrounding areas in these essays.

 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small
commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided
are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.