"Devil's Tea Table"

Details of Petroglyph

"Devil's Tea Table", Petroglyph

The following report is the result of an investigation conducted by Dan Hall and David Martin November 13,1994 - to date.

This site has been mentioned to the author by several people over the years, but Dan Hall of the Society first proposed a visit to the site to s ee this particular engraving. A number of people in the Society have visited this region to investigate the associated rock shelter that exists father up and south on the ridge, but none had reported this petroglyph which exists some twenty feet above the ridge top trail. Not a terribly difficult climb, but a misstep could have serious consequences. The climb to the table has been made by younger people many times as multitudes have left their names and initials in the rock. An older appearing name is "J.S. Stillwell 1841". A more recent date "April 13, 1933 Dallas Bias" includes the remark "unlucky day". Dates from the 30's, 40's 50's are profuse with many from the past two decades, while only one other date from the 1800's appears in the form of " LIEB 1877".

Located on a narrow ridge atop a sandstone table formation amid many historic and contemporary carved names and dates. The ridge rises at a 23º slope from the intersection of 57th Street and Chesterfield Avenue to the south east, parallel and overlooking the Kanawha River at the junction of Campbell's Creek. The Hollow south of this ridge is known as Upper Donhally.

The petroglyph is engraved atop a wind eroded sandstone table formation at an elevation of 1100' above sea level, or 500' above the 600' elevation of the Kanawha River Terrace and one mile from the intersection. The flat top surface of the structure has been divided into two nearly equal tables, 3 meters each on their N/S axis and 2. 25 meters, and 2.5 meters on their E/W axis. The tables align end to end on a common N/S line. The Petroglyph exists on the northern most, or down river table with head facing north, feet to the west and tail to the south. A horizontal line drawn from the nose to the tail lies on a compass reading of 354º , or 6º out of due north.

The figure represented appears to be that of a wolf. The head, though disfigured by modern graffiti, exhibits an open mouth with teeth, two eyes by nut-stone type depressions, and two pointed ears. A curve constricted for the neck continues in a hump back curve that terminates at the tip of the tail. From here it curves back to meet the outline of the rear leg forming a full pointed tail. The legs are described by two pairs of parallel lines with dog-leg style bends. Whether the pairs of lines were once joined to form feet or were separate as to describe fours legs is not apparent. The under belly appears to have originally been inscribed by an "s" curve, though regions have been obliterated by modern graffiti.

The figure measures 1.25 meters in length and .72 meters in height and occupies the center portion of the table. Though essentially smooth and uninterrupted, the table's surface is somewhat dished out in the center.

Conclusions:

The figure appears to be genuine in origin, that is, of prehistoric Native American origins. It resembles phenotypically petroglyphs recorded by James L. Swauger in ROCK ART OF THE UPPER OHIO VALLEY; Akademische Druck-u. Verlangsanstalt, Graz/Austria; 1974. There are some similarities with figures 19 and 20 from 46 Hs 1, figure 30 and 76 from 36 Bv 7, and figure 45 from 36 Fa 36. I would imagine them to be late prehistoric based on the softness of the sandstone and the evidence of much erosion which would have removed evidence of earlier rock carvings. If the interpretation of the figure as a wolf is correct, there may be significance in the orientation of the figure to the north. In any event, the rock offers a spectacular view of the river and the confluence of Campbell's Creek and obviously has attracted adventurous visitors for over a century.