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How often do we zip down the highway on the way from one destination to another, paying no attention to the interesting places just beyond our sight? This week, I was on my way home but not in any hurry. When I saw the sign for Rock Hawk Effigy, I turned onto the quiet paved road to see what was there.

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I had seen the better-known, and better-preserved Rock Eagle Effigy, located some twenty miles away. This was a chance to see the companion artifact.

Rock Hawk Effigy is in Putnam County in central Georgia, about a dozen miles east of the town of Eatonton, just north of Georgia Highway 16. The site is near Lake Oconee, and is on land maintained by Georgia Power Company.

Take the short hike on this fine sunny day, and see what's out there. Pictures were taken April 1, 2014.

A short paved trail leads to the effigy site.

Trail to Rock Hawk Effigy

Instead of writing a lot of text on a subject I know little about, I'll let the experts who designed the trail markers tell you. I've put some excerpts in blockquotes. Photos are in lightbox mode. Click on images for a better view.

Due to the lack of artifacts in and around the effigy, archaeologists are unsure when the effigy was created. Humans have been in the region a long time, and there is no real consensus on the age of Rock Hawk. Some estimates place the age at around 2,000 years. The Creek Indians inhabited the area when Europeans arrived.

marker

By the time Europeans arrived in the area, the Creeks had organized into a confederacy of towns. A large permanent Creek town, called an Italwa, was surrounded by a number of smaller towns called talofas.
marker

The early settlers were not kind to this land. According to the marker:

Much of the topsoil was removed by poor soil conservation practices of planters and small farmers during the early days of cotton agriculture and into the twentieth century. An average of seven inches of topsoil was eroded from this region, and major gullies formed in places where soft soils were exposed to the intense summer rains.
marker

Rivers often ran red from eroded clay.

Historic ferry, photo from marker

The ground-level view of the effigy just looks like a pile of rocks.

Ground view of Rock Hawk Effigy

Fortunately there is a viewing tower.

Viewing tower, Rock Hawk Effigy

From halfway up, an image begins to take shape.

Rock Hawk Effigy, as seen midway up viewing tower.

From the top of the tower, a clearer picture emerges.

Rock Hawk Effigy, as seen from top of viewing tower.

Unfortunately the location was not preserved over time, and some of the details were lost. Historical drawings contain enough differences that some historians wonder whether there was a second effigy nearby that has been covered up or destroyed.

Historical drawings of Rock Hawk

Here is another view from the tower. The dogwoods are beginning to bloom. The tree on the right with new leaves is a northern red oak. The big leafless tree to the left is a white oak. In the background are shortleaf pines.

View of woods from Rock Hawk viewing tower

A better view of the dogwood, with the obligatory reminder that those white flower "petals" are actually modified leaves.

dogwood in bloom

A holly displays its pricky leaves.

holly tree in foreground

A hiking trail beckons, but I had miles to travel. Perhaps another day.

Foot trail, Rock Hawk Effigy

That's my latest report from middle Georgia. The floor is now open for your comments and observations.



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