We’ve talked about people stealing archaeological artifacts before here on Gadling, but the theft of an eight-ton rock has got to be some sort of record, especially considering that it was underwater.
A boulder called Indian Head Rock used to poke out of the Ohio River near the Kentucky side and was a popular place to visit. Boatmen in the nineteenth century used it as a guidepost, and locals would swim out to it to carve their names on it have their picture taken. This woman posed for a photo circa 1903.
Indian Head Rock gets its name from a mysterious face on it that some people believe is an ancient petroglyph carved by a prehistoric Native American.
The rock became submerged in the 1920s when the river was dammed, but low rainfall made it visible again in 2005. In 2007 a group of Ohioans pulled the rock out and brought it to Ohio, claiming that it was in danger and should be conserved.
This brought an angry response from Kentucky, with even the legislature getting in on the act and demanding its return. The Ohio legislature shot back a resolution claiming it was a part of Ohio history. The guys who took the rock faced a variety of charges ranging from antiquities theft to dredging without a license. Some of those charges have been dropped, but the rock hunters are still entangled in legal battles and are likely to face some sort of punishment for their actions.
Kentucky sued to get the rock back and it has now been returned. Sadly, it hasn’t been returned to its original location since archaeologists say the site has been “compromised”.
Scratch off yet another historic spot from the landscape.