Ohio historian pleads not guilty in rock flap

Friday, 25 July 2008
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Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Melvin Leonhart, left, and Commonwealth's Attorney Cliff Duvall looked at the 8-ton Indian Head rock pulled from the Ohio River.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when we talked about an uproar between Ohio and Kentucky around a rock that was stolen from the Ohio River? You know, the 8-ton rock that was over on Kentucky's side of the river also known as the Indian Head Rock. The Bluegrass State is upset that the rock was removed...
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Melvin Leonhart, left, and Commonwealth's Attorney Cliff Duvall looked at the 8-ton Indian Head rock pulled from the Ohio River.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when we talked about an uproar between Ohio and Kentucky around a rock that was stolen from the Ohio River? You know, the 8-ton rock that was over on Kentucky's side of the river also known as the Indian Head Rock. The Bluegrass State is upset that the rock was removed.

Now the issue has moved into the courts. Last month, historian, Steve Shaffer was indicted on a felony charge of removing a protected archaeological object a Class D charge that could land him 5 years in prison.

"I'm really surprised," he said. "It's not about historic preservation, we all know that. It's about revenge."

The rock, which is about 4 ½ feet tall and 6 feet wide, contains carvings of a crude face -- possibly done by prehistoric Indians -- and names of Portsmouth, Ohio, families from the early 1900s.

The rock was once a navigational marker and an attraction for locals who ventured out into the river to carve their names into it. But at the time it was removed, it was submerged in the river and hadn't been seen since the 1920s.

It is now stored in a city garage in Portsmouth, which wants to put it on display at a tourist welcome center because of its historical significance.

More info: courier-journal.com

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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