Where in the Hudson Valley Contest: “Rock of Ages” Glacial Stone

Shoppers in one town are reminded of the Valley’s historic past



Photograph by Joppenheim/Wikipedia

Most Valley shoppers don’t pass a behemoth like this on the way to buy their groceries. This spectacular stone stands 23 feet tall and weighs in at a jaw-dropping 12,300 tons; it’s a safe bet that most business owners would be unwilling to share their parking lot with such a gigantic boulder. The shopkeepers in this center, however, have embraced the large landmark: They’ve adorned it with a historic marker, and incorporated it into their site’s design (as well as its name).

Close to six million years older than the first dinosaur, this glacial erratic arrived in its current southwestern Valley location approximately 21,000 years ago. The stone, which probably originated no more than 10 miles from its present site, was moved by the Laurentide Ice Sheet — a massive glacier that also created the surrounding landscape. Estimated to be between 800 million to 1.2 billion years old, the rock is composed of granite gneiss, which is created when intense heat and pressure morph igneous and sedimentary rock together into recrystallized rock. Although the mass now appears to be made up of multiple stones piled together, it originated as a single boulder.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this bodacious boulder has a long and varied history. It was first used as a meeting place for the various Native American tribes who inhabited the Valley; it also served as a trail marker to guide traders, hunters, and tribesmen to an important Indian meeting place in Mahwah, New Jersey. Within the rock, there is a small crevice that is large enough for a person to crawl into, which may have provided passersby with shelter from the elements.

Although this giant rock is now here to stay, its fate was once uncertain. In 1995, before the surrounding shopping center was erected, developers wanted to destroy it, since it was in the way of building plans. One Valley historian with a personal connection — he remembers playing on the rock as a child — helped rally more than 100 community members to petition the village board to preserve the rock intact. The board vote was unanimous, and the boulder was incorporated into the design of the shopping center for future generations to enjoy.

Do you know the name and location of this supersized stone? Send us your answer as a comment in the box below (comments are invisible until the answer is published). The first reader with the correct response wins a prize. Good luck!

» Give up? Find the contest answer in our April 2013 issue
» Read more Where in the Huson Valley contest questions

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