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Garfield County

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Garfield County, Oklahoma

Upper Red Rock Creek Sites

Excavators test Red Rock Creek site

Testing of Red Rock Creek archaeological site to determine National Register eligibility

Red Rock Creek arises in the middle of Garfield County and drains portions of Garfield and Noble counties on its 50-mile journey to the Arkansas River on the Noble-Pawnee county line. Portions of the creek have been surveyed for archaeological sites as part of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly the Soil Conservation Service or SCS) flood control work on the creek. These surveys, which were conducted by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC), are required when federal agencies are involved in projects that may impact National Register-eligible archaeological sites (read more about Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act at the State Historic Preservation Office website).

In the mid-1970s, OCC personnel surveyed an area in which two flood control structures were planned northwest of Garber, Oklahoma. Eight sites of potential interest were investigated during this work and limited excavations were conducted on two of them. The testing revealed that the areas within the sites to be affected by the impoundments contained little cultural material and were probably short-term hunting camps. Six pottery sherds from a single pot were found at one of the sites and since people began making pottery in Oklahoma sometime after 1 A.D., this site dates to either the Woodland or Late Prehistoric periods (2,000 to 500 years ago). An arrowhead, termed a Harrell point by archaeologists, was found at a nearby site and was made from Alibates chert, a fine material from the Texas panhandle. Other materials used by the migratory occupants of these camps to manufacture dart and arrowpoints were from northwestern Oklahoma (Day Creek), central and eastern Oklahoma (Florence-A and Neva cherts) and even as far away as northwest Kansas or Nebraska (Niobrara chert).

Alibates Harrell point

Harrell point like the one
found in Garfield County.

The OCC report on these impoundments recorded a total of 55 archaeological sites along Red Rock Creek. Most of them were considered to be small hunting camps and most were of uncertain time period. From the chart below, it is clear that the archaeology of Garfield County is still largely unexplored. Part of this can be attributed to the lack of archaeological work undertaken in the area and probably part of it can be attributed to the geology and terrain as well. Red Rock Creek is considered to be an aggrading stream which simply means that it is depositing more material than it is eroding away. For the archaeology of the area, this may well mean that very old sites, for example from the Paleo time period, are deeply buried in millenia of sediment.

Through this date in July 2007, 42 impoundments have been built in the Upper Red Rock Creek watershed with help from the Natural Resources Conservation Commission (formerly SCS).

Thank you to Charles Wallis, State Historic Preservation Office, and K.C. Kraft, Natural Resources Conservation Service, for help on this county webpage.

Reference: Cultural Resource Survey, Proposed Impoundments 38A and 38B, Upper Red Rock Creek Watershed, Garfield County. Oklahoma Conservation Commission General Survey Report 1979:9, Charles S. Wallis, Jr.

Number of Prehistoric Sites in Garfield County Identified to Time Period

Paleo = ?-8,000 BP / Archaic = 8,000-2,000 BP / Woodland = 2,000-1,000 BP / Village 1000-500 BP
BP (before present)


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