Sandy Island Archaeology: Layers of History

Irene Mullen and rock sign – 1953

Did you know we have a layer of (fairly modern) history UNDER the surface of Sandy Island?

We all know about the legendary garbage dump that once existed behind the Shop.

Recently Carla Lafleur found an old photo of her aunt, Irene Mullen, standing near a rock at Sandy Island’s waterfront. Painted on the rock were the words “George Washington couldn’t have slept here!” Carla shared her photo with the Sandy Archives and the group of Sandy Island historians we’ve affectionately dubbed the PHDs (Photo and History Detectives). These knowledgeable folks searched their extensive memories recalled other words and directions written on other rocks, or on the other side of this rock. What became of this “Sign Rock?”

Henry Lafleur has an answer. He says, “Carla and I were on staff during the summers 1979-1981. When I started working at Sandy there was a large rock behind the shop. It obviously had been moved to that location. When Morning Glory was made into staff quarters, it was necessary to move the Hos-tel septic system to a different location. The original septic tank, to the left of the Hos-tel, was removed and the remaining hole needed to be filled. I asked two service crew members, Eric Johnson and Marc Glover, (AKA Squid and Tripper, respectively) to roll the rock onto a metal sled that we used for moving heavy items and pull it, by jeep, to the septic hole. It was used as part of the fill for the hole. I have a suspicion that it was the same rock in the picture with Carla’s aunt Irene.

Carla and Henry Lafleur, with grandson Andrew, 2014

Sandy Island, of course, existed before it became a YMCA camp. Jeff Duquette reminded us that we also have artifacts which give us clues about Sandy’s history from even older times. Last summer Jeff wrote an amazing essay on what we had incorrectly called an “arrowhead” which had been found at Ritz Beach. Jeff identified the tool as “fishing spear point” used by Native Americans over 3,000 years ago.

Another Great Catch at Sandy! (Jeff Duquette and rainbow trout)

Jeff is continuing his study of Sandy Island history by investigating rumors that Native American “rock glyphs” – signs painted or etched into rocks- once existed on Ragged Island and on Sandy Island. He says, “The Iroquois League had extensive trails throughout the region, used for trade and travel. Most of our modern highways follow these routes today. It’s well documented that there are sign glyphs on rocks along these trails, I imagine like our routing signs today. Perhaps [Native Americans] used similar markings along the water…”




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