National Monument: Texas’ Alibates Flint Quarries

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, Texas© 2009 NPS PhotoPaleo-Indians chipped flint into spear points here.

On Hwy. 136, about 6 miles south of Fritch. Watch for signs to Bates Canyon and the quarries., Texas

To walk along the bluff here is to walk in the footsteps of the prehistoric people who first came to this place some 12,000 years ago in search of stone that was hard enough to kill the mammoths and buffalo upon which their subsistence depended. The Paleo-Indians, who discovered Alibates flint, used it for spear points, arrowheads, knives and scrapers, axes and awls, and other necessities. It was the only wealth they knew.

Flint is usually a solid color, but here it is rainbow-hued in infinite variations and patterns. The craftsmanship shown in the ancient articles made of this material is usually so superior to that of objects made of ordinary flint that the early artisans must have been responding to its beauty.

The quarries are shallow pits in the ground from 5 to 25 feet across, not much to see—except that they are the source of some of the oldest evidence we have of human technology in the continental United States. The only access to the site is by a two-hour guided walking tour from the information station at spectacular Bates Canyon on Lake Meredith. Tours are by reservation only. You’ll need sturdy shoes and a hat for protection from the hot sun. There’s no water, so a canteen is a good idea.

Open year-round except holidays. Reservations required.

www.nps.gov/alfl

(806) 857-3151

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