Minnesota · United States

Jeffers Petroglyphs – Comfrey, Minnesota

I’ve always wanted to see ancient carvings on stone and figured I’d have to go back to the Colorado/Utah area to find petroglyphs.  There is something fascinating about the idea of viewing the symbols that ancient peoples carved into stone.  So, I was really surprised to discover in my newly received Minnesota Travel Guide that you can find petroglyphs in Comfrey.

comfrey-map

Since I’ve never been to Minnesota, this gives me another great reason to make that state a destination.  I’ve wanted to know more about the twin cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) and Duluth (of the Duluth Trading Post commercials).

I would never have guessed that Minnesota had petroglyphs.  This southwestern portion of the state contains prairies with rock formations that jut about 50 feet higher than the surrounding fields.  Apparently, the American Indians decided that these formations were spiritually significant.  They thought that because these rocks emerged from the earth into the air that they became a link between the physical and spiritual worlds.  The thing that interests me is that they wanted to make a record of their culture.  What drove them to leave behind images of animals & humans on rock walls?  Did they want to make certain that future generations knew they  existed and inhabited that  specific place?

hand
Carving of a hand.  Picture from mnhs.org and Pinterest

Some of the earliest carvings are of buffalo and throwing sticks (also called atlatls).  These “atlatls” and darts were used to hunt buffalo before the “bow and arrow” was developed about 1,200 years ago. The turtle

turtle
From umn.edu and Pinterest

was also another common image carved into the stone.  I wonder what the turtle signified to their culture?  I’ve read that these carvings represent events and stories and sometimes even maps.  I did not know that they also recorded “visions”.  Here is a website link for Jeffers Petroglyphs:  http://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/jeffers-petroglyphs/the-rock

I am really eager to stand in front of ancient carvings from so long ago.  I have the feeling the hair on the back of my neck will stand up once I am actually here.  It’s amazing to think that humans from ages ago felt the need to leave an imprint of their daily existence for future generations to interpret.

nighttime-petroglyph
from startribune.com and Pinterest

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