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he asked me if I knew anything about the Estabrook Woods
[in Concord and Carlisle, Massachusetts.] I remembered I
was involved with an orienteering group when I first moved
from Montreal to Boston around 1970, and I had set up a
course in Estabrook Woods. During the process of setting
up, I came across a log structure, hewn logs. Steve asked
me if I could show him this log structure. It was maybe
1995 or `96. When we walked in the Estabrook Woods and
finally found the structure, it didn't look like anything that
I had recalled. It was all knocked down and everything.
On the way back he said, "Are are you interested in stone
structures, unusual enigmatic structures? There's one here
in the Estabrook Woods and I can show it to you." We
followed a colonial wall along the base of Hubbard's Hill.
Integrated into the wall was an above-ground chamber of
some sort, without the roof. The walls were slanted. The
entire feature was fascinating.
Then he told me that Mark Strohmeyer had written about
the chamber and gave a report to Harvard University, which
owns the land. Steve said if I wanted to know more about
the chamber, I should write to Mark, which I did when I got
home. I never met Mark. We only had a few long telephone
conversations about the different things he found. What I
recall from our conversations is that his voice was quiver-
ing--very emotional--when talking about the stonework
he had found. He said, "Read Manitou. You've got to read
Manitou. Read it! After you've finished it, call me back."
I bought the book, and after I read it, I called him back.
He said, "You've got to meet my high school friend, Fred
Werkheiser, who lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Fred
knows a lot of sites." Fred owned a shoe store in Nazareth,
Pennsylvania.
So I met Fred around 1996, and he took me to some sites,
one of which was Scot Run in Pennsylvania. Another one
was around the Delaware Water Gap. At one point later
that summer at his store, he showed me photographs of a
site in Berks County, which I called the Oley Hills site. He
had been there many times and thought it was a magnifi-
cent site. He showed me some photographs of the features
there, and I thought, yeah, it looks interesting.
Early November--1996, I think it was--we drove in his truck
to Oley Hills to the base of the hill. We went up the back
way and he showed me these features after an ice storm in
November. It's spectacular. There's a stone mound with a
curved wall leading to it. When I saw it at that time, with all
the ice covering it, I thought, "My God, it's an incredible site."
The ice, of course, made it look more impressive than it does
without it, but it's still an awesome site. I thought, "I've got
to learn more about this site" (Figure 1).
I corresponded with just about everybody. I corresponded
with the state archaeologist, who at the time wrote back
saying that it looks industrial. Of course, they were all
pooh-poohing this idea that the Indians built with stone.
Then I invited other people, archaeologists, up there.
There was a conference in 2002 that Fred organized, which
focused on the Oley Hills site, where people came up from
the Archeological Conservancy from Washington. Some
gave presentations. I gave a little talk at the time. But still,
most people in authority discounted it as an important site.
What did they think it was?
Colonial.
But what was it serving in the colonial context?
They didn't talk about that. The authorities were not
interested in the features at the Oley site since they, the
archaeologists in Harrisburg, thought everything was colo-
nial. That was it. Case closed. Except for a small handful
of archaeologists, such as the late Jim Peterson from the
University of Vermont, who had an open mind and was not
afraid of searching for the truth.
So that's where it began and ended.
Just a little more on that. Was there a farm or some colonial
structure there?
Below the hilltop. There was nothing on the ridge itself. It's
very rocky. There was farming down in the valley below,
but not on the summit, the ridge top. I mean the soil is
very, very thin, and it's really crummy. In fact, the person
who first bought the farm, a Christian Abentschon back in
the early 1750s, owned the land for ten years, and then
he disappeared. He left the area, never paid his debt. The
whole thing became a legal mess until the 1870s, when
the people who owned the land around there decided to
straighten it out. Christian Abentschon was apparently
just tired of not making ends meet. Certainly he couldn't
farm the ridge. There was nothing to farm. The soil was
just too poor there to farm. I think he just had it. Christian
Abentschon left Pennsylvania and moved to North Carolina
to farm. He just moved away and abandoned his property.
Did you ever check to see what was down there in North
Carolina?
Well, that's for another lifetime. My lifetime, it's sort of
running out, you know.
Around 1997 or `98 I invited a state geologist to the site,
Figure 1. A curved wall and cairn at the Oley Hills site in
Pennsylvania. Photo by Norman Muller, 1997.