Sunday, February 07, 2021

Notice of a Rocking Stone in Warwick, R.I.

 Providence, September, 20th 1823.

Prof. Silliman, Sir,

It has given me some satisfaction to become acquainted with the particulars which Mr. Moore has given us in the last number of your Journal, respecting the Durham Rocking Stone. It is true, as he intimates, that there are but few rocks of this kind as yet known in our country; still, as curiosity is continually increasing, and the votaries of geological science daily becoming more numerous, it will not be long, it is believed, before they will be found to exist here in considerable numbers. I have recently visited one which is found in this State, and from its interesting character, have been induced to forward to you a description of it, together with a drawing by Mr. Moses Partridge

It is in the town of Warwick, about two hundred yards south-west of the village of Apponaug, and twelve miles in the same direction from Providence. In form, it resembles a turtle, although it is convex on the bottom and somewhat concave on the top. It is about ten feet in length, six ^ breadth, and two in thickness. It reposes upon another rock, which rises a few feet above ground, touching it in two points — the one under A, the other under B. (Fig 1, Plate 1) Upon these points it is so exactly poised, that it moves with the gentlest touch. A child five years old may set it a rocking, so that the side C will describe an arc, the chord of which will be fifteen inches. The easiest method to rock it is by standing upon it, and applying the weight of one's body alternately from one side to the other.

What renders this rock peculiarly interesting is, that when the side D descends, it gives four distinct pulsations, hitting first at E, next at F, then at G, and lastly at H. The sound produced, is much like that of a drum, excepting that it is louder. In consequence of this sound, it has very appropriately entailed upon itself the name of "The Drum Rock." It has been heard in a still evening at the distance of six miles. In the summer season, it is a place of fashionable resort for the people of Apponaug, and of the town generally.

The weight of this rock is estimated at four tons — upwards of a ton heavier than the one at Kirkmichael in Scotland, and almost as heavy as the famous Logan, in the parish of Sithney, near Helston in England. Its composition appears to be an indurated ferruginous clay, with here and there small portions of quartz. Its specific gravity is 2, 5. It has long been a subject of inquiry with the inhabitants of Warwick, how this rock came here, or by what means it was placed in its present situation. A little attention will convince any one who sees it, that it was once united to the rock on which it rests. Let A be turned round to I, and it will unquestionably be in the spot where it originally belonged. But by whom it was shifted into the places which it now occupies, is a matter of uncertainty. It has been attributed to the Indians. The removal of such a mass seems however, to have required some mechanical skill, more, perhaps, than many will be willing to allow, that the savages of this region ever possessed. As we have never had any Druids* amongst us, we shall probably never know for a certainty upon whom the honour of the enterprize is to be bestowed.

This rock is surrounded with interesting scenery. South is a dark and dismal swamp, which comprises from fifteen to twenty acres, containing the birch, the hemlock, the maple and the alder. West is a side-hill, which rises at an angle of eighteen or twenty degrees, from the top of which we have a view of the central part of the Narragansett, with several of its beautiful islands. East, a plain presents itself, intersected by a ravine, overgrown with shrubs, along which flows a small stream of water from the swamp. North, the land rises gently, and for some extent is completely covered with huge, misshapen rocks, lying wholly above the surface ; gray with moss, and exhibiting ten thousand fractures.

Very Respectfully yours,


Preceptor of the Charlesfield Street Academy.

Excerpt from: The American Journal of Science - v.7 (1824) p 200:

 (with thanks to Matt Adams)


Norman said...

Does this feature still exist?

Tim MacSweeney said...

Yes it does: "At one time, the rock was the symbol of Apponaug, its image replicated for parades. Today, Drum Rock is silent, having been moved from it’s original position because it made too much noise for nearby neighbors.


Tim MacSweeney said...

Neara Member Charlie Devine writes at Face Book:
This is a great illustration, in showing and describing how the Apponaug Drum Rock was activated. I have never seen it before. Great find. When this rocking stone was restored to working order, it only lasted a short time, I was one of the last to stand upon it and drum it.

pwax said...

It is small wonder the Native Americans did not want to agree to NEARA's view of stonework. It is always about Vikings and Druids - not an Indian in sight. Oh wait:
".. has been attributed to the Indians. The removal of such a mass seems however, to have required some mechanical skill, more, perhaps, than many will be willing to allow, that the savages of this region ever possessed. As we have never had any Druids* amongst us"

Tim MacSweeney said...

If you go to the American Journal link, you'll find Celtics and Druids on page 149. And the North Salem NY stone at 152.