Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rolling Rock

     Rolling Rock in Fall River is always an incongruous sight,  a massive puddingstone boulder surrounded by three-deckers and traffic. The pedestal it stands on was once part of a large outcrop that was quarried away.  There used to be a deep pit in front of it that was the scene of drownings until it was filled in.

     Old maps show it as  a landmark, on the main trail which ran from the falls of the Quequechan up present-day Pleasant Street,  County Street, and then to the Narrows.  An  old campfire story claims Rolling Rock was used by the Wampanoags to crush their prisoners.  While this is possible, I doubt this story.  There are many  gruesome descriptions of torture written during King Philip's War, but  not a single one describes a balanced boulder used this way. Could these rocking stones have been used for some sort of tribal rite of passage?  Perhaps, but no evidence is found.

       Mavor and Dix had their own interpretation of Rolling Rock in Manitou.
     "We imagine that the boulder could have been used as a signalling device, as rocking it in sunlight about its axis, which is oriented ten degrees true, would cause changes in reflective patterns when seen from the east and west."

      Using a large stone as a visual signalling device is most likely ineffective, because someone has always to be watching for changes, and it won't work at night.  Also, from the Quequechan Falls to Rolling Rock is about two miles, as is the distance from Rolling Rock to the east shore of North Watuppa Pond.  Any changes in the rock would be hard to pick out, because it would appear quite tiny at that distance.  Rocking the boulder may have generated loud sounds and vibrations through the ground, which could have been used as signals.  Rolling Rock has been fixed in place since the 1930s, so there is no way to test this.

        Or maybe the significance of this stone is simply that it rocks.

     I have often wondered how Rolling Rock looked originally.  Here we may take a walk past the rock and down to the falls on a warm summer day.

1 comment:

  1. Love your paintings. Would you like to participate in the new Community Gallery space at Fall River Historic State Park?