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Top 10 Unique Native American Attractions in Pennsylvania

A descendant of Mohawk Nation and trained in anthropology, Patty has researched and reported on indigenous peoples for over four decades.

Part of Presque Isle near historic sites in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Part of Presque Isle near historic sites in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Western Pennsylvania for National Register of Historic Places

Pennsylvania lists one of the largest collection of National Historic Places registered in America. New places in this state are accepted into "Commonwealth Treasure" historic status in an ongoing trend.

Native American villages as old as 14,000 BC make this a rich collection of New World history and particularly Northeastern American chronicling. Many unique installations are replicated this well nowhere outside Pennsylvania. The list below finds them in all four corners of the state as well as centrally located.

Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania.

Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania.

1. Sommerheim Park Archaeological District, Registered 1986

Dozens of sites have been registered with the NRHP in Pennsylvania and are preserved and studied with the aid of government and private funding. Many are scenic tourist attractions as well.

Sommerheim Park is a 10-acre archaeologically significant group of six separate sites all within a single park west of the interesting town of Erie. The Erielhonan people of the Iroquois Confederation were the first to inhabit this area.

The park contains all six sites in a rare undeveloped area of the Lake Erie shore, found in Millcreek Township.

The complex includes picturesque Presque Island Bay, where the island is a state park and wonderful for camping, fishing, visiting, and at times, viewing the Northern Lights. Presque Isle is one of my favorite places to visit. Driving in through the entrance onto the lush causeway, you can see the blue waters of the bay on both sides of the boulevard style roadway. The island is a beautiful green space, cooler than the city in summer, and refreshing.

Native American artifacts discovered in the park include those from the periods known as Archaic, Early Woodland, and Middle Woodland; all these artifacts older than those usually found, specifically Late Woodland and newer objects, along the Lake Erie Shores in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Sommerheim Park is near a major highway and two other parks, including Scott Park and Presque Isle State Park. State Highway 5 is the route across Pennsylvania on the Lake Erie Circle Tour.

2. Indian God Rock Petroglyph, Registered 1984

Also located in Northwestern Pennsylvania, this site lies along the Allegheny Valley near the unincorporated village of Brandon.

On a huge rock found at this site is a Native American petroglyph, used later as an explorers' landmark. It is also a much studied artifact, although which Native American Nation(s) used the rocks is undetermined. Those pictured in the video above are found nowhere else in the world.

Made of sandstone, the large rock was easily carved with 55 figures in total. These include geometric shapes, and carvings or people and local animals. Some investigators believe the rock and symbols are of shamanic importance and were carved in 1000 AD +/- 200 years.

The first whites to record the existence of the rock and carvings were the French explorers in the area in 1749 that left lead plates to record their adventure and claim to the land. They were Catholic and felt the Native Americans superstitious. However, the rock is first Upper Ohio River Valley petroglyph mentioned in written records.

The US Forest Service recognized the rock as one of the most significant of 75 Native American archaeological sites along the Allegheny River section designated a National Wild and Scenic River.

3. Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, Registered 1999

This archaeological site is located near Avella in western Washington County, Pennsylvania on the border of eastern Ohio and West Virginia and is among several places registered on the National Historic Register of Historic Places.

I find that you can spend an entire week of vacation in this area. Such places are also conducive to the tranquility needed for thought and writing and for painting. This attraction includes the archaeological site, an Indian village from the 1500s, a Frontier Trading Post of the 1700s, and a small town of the 1800s.

A plaque at the rock shelter calls it a deeply stratified archaeological site with deposits spanning nearly 16,000 years (prehistoric/Paleoindian all the way through Late Woodland eras that ended in the 19th Century), but not discovered until 200 years later 1973.

The University of Pittsburgh sent archaeologists to excavate and they found North America's earliest known evidence for human beings in the New World. This is evidence that Native Americans were in Northeastern USA beginning around 14,000 BC, if carbon and other dating schemes are absolutely correct. Evidence elsewhere suggests their presence 50,000 years ago, but this is an issue of heated debate.

Regardless, Pennsylvania seems to be the best crucible for studying Northeastern US Native Americans in history for several thousand years. In fact, the Meadowcroft Rockshelter was declared a "Commonwealth Treasure" for protection and preservation in 1999. Visit the siten and Washington County as a whole is you have a chance.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter: Oldest Site of Human Dwellings in North America. Artifacts of the rock shelter are 16,000 years old.

Meadowcroft Rockshelter: Oldest Site of Human Dwellings in North America. Artifacts of the rock shelter are 16,000 years old.

Washington County Education and Research

  • California University of Pennsylvania
  • Community College of Allegheny County, Washington branch
  • Genealogy in Washington Co., Pennsylvania
    The ultimate on-line resource for Genealogy and History in Washington Co., Pennsylvania. this includes Revolutionary and Civil War sites.
  • Washington & Jefferson College in the City of Washington -- A Best College in America named by US News and World Reports in 2006.
  • Waynesburg University - Southpointe Center

Central Pennsylvania

4. Memorial Park Site at Lock Haven, Registered 1982

Organized research examinations of this site since 1979 have uncovered prehistoric Native American culture and artifacts from 8,000 years of history from 7000 BC to AD 1000. This is the Middle Archaic through the Late Woodland periods of habitation through about 1749.

The strongest cultural evidence of habitation is provided by Clemson Island people living in the joined river basins of the West Branch Susquehanna River and the Bald Eagle River valleys during the Late Woodland era, but undiscovered until the 1970s. After archaeological excavations, the park was acquired by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission after setting its borders in 1980. it was registered as a National Historic Site in 1982.

5. Clemson Island Prehistoric District, Registered 1981

Clemson Island is a sort of prototype for a particular culture or groups of cultures found among Native Americans historically in Pennsylvania and the Northeast United States, although some researchers take issue with this. They feel that it is a "catch all" category for a number of small groups that need to be examined more closely individually.

The Clemson Island site in Central PA is known as a type site and is listed by the National Register of Historic Places as representing Native Americans from approximately 7000 BC through 1749 AD.

The island is preserved as a conservation area that includes a native village. This island site is located and preserved in Halifax Township, Pennsylvania and in on the southern part the island in the Susquehanna River, 20 miles north of Harrisburg on US Routes 11 and 15..

See also Halifax Historical Museum.

6. Canfield Island Site, Registered 1982

This interesting archaeological site sits on Canfield Island in the West Branch Susquehanna River and east of Williamsport, an interesting town in its own right.

The first inhabitants of this region were undoubtedly some of he earliest Native Americans to migrate from the West, after their arrival in the New World some 10,000+ years ago; and artifacts found thus far on Canfield Island date back to 1,000 BC.

Canfield Island was formed by workers who dug a large ditch at a point inland from the river and then allowing it to fill with water. This separated the island from the rest of the land in the early 1900s. Archaeologists for the State of Pennsylvania visited in 1958 and found evidence of prehistoric "tribes." For 20 years from 1960 - 1980, the state authorized excavations up to nearly 50 feet in depth, bringing up many artifacts. From 1980 - 2010, little has been done to investigate the site further for 30 years.

In the 2000s, at least one research team from a Willilamsport college, Lycoming College, examined the site and found additional useful information.

"What has been extraordinary about the Canfield Island site is the number of fishing nets uncovered. The island, before it was an island, was a veritable fishing colony. Cooking and perhaps some sort of rudimentary industry are evidenced by a large number of large charcoal-containing cooking or burning areas on the island. The amount of charcoal there to study, has been useful in dating other charcoal sites around the state."

Best estimates of Lycoming College and previous exploration teams indicate that peoples from the Early Archaic through the Late Woodland stages lived on what is now Canfield Island and that the Susquehannock Nation (Iroquois languages group) definitely inhabited the area circa 1749, forward.

European settlement quickly grasped the logging and lumber industry to produce a society of millionaire lumber barons in Williamsport, whose mansions are now included on a group guided tour.

Williamsport Interests

  • Lycoming College
    A Top 44 Carnegie College, with Residential Education for fewer than 2000 well attended students. Their archaeologists are first rate.
  • Pennsylvania College of Technology
    Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania's premier technical college and a Penn State affiliate, provides the best opportunities for education, hands-on skills development, and real-world work experience. Penn College, in Williamsport, PA, of

Eastern Pennsylvania

7. Minisink Historic District, Registered 1993

This site is located in both Eastern Pennsylvania (Bushkill) and New Jersey (Millbrook). Native Americans that have contributed to this historic site include the Munsee and Shawnee; and may be the most important Munsee Language archaeological site in the US.

The historic eras covered at this site include the Early Archaic through the Shawnee of the 19th Century and are studied by regional colleges and universities -- Munsee is, in fact, an Endangered Language.

See these links for additional information:

8, 9, and 10. Three Manor Township Sites

Lancaster County in Southeastern Pennsylvania is not only Pennsylvania Dutch Country, settled by the Amish and Mennonite communities after the Native Americans were often displaced or moved westward, but also a site of numerous small Indigenous archaeological sites.

Manor Township, however, is the location of two of the larger installations in which the artifacts found are of sufficient number and quality to date inhabitants to the Archaic through Susquehannock periods. These two sites are:

  • Frey- Haverstick Site - Located to the east side of the Susquehanna River near Washington Boro.
  • Robert Farms Site - Nine miles southeast of Washington Boro, near Conestoga PA and above the Conestoga River where it joins the Susquehanna River. Both sites are approximately two miles southwest of Lancaster PA.

An anomaly in Lancaster County

  • Shultz-Funk Site -- A third site is very interesting, because it is just 2 miles south of Frey-Haverstick and 7 miles north of Robert Farms, but shows evidence only of the Late Woodland era people. Why Native Americans left this settlement or village and stayed in the other two locations is as yet unknown, but research continues at local universities. These could possibly have been the Christian Conestoga band, Susquehannock, people living on William Penn's manor (now Manor TWP) that were eliminated in a massacre by the Paxton Boys in 1763 before the Revolutionary War in a rash of anti-Indian sentiment after the French and Indian War and Pontiac's Rebellion.
  • Other Lancaster County sites show evidence only of the Susquehannock Nation circa the 1800s. A few additional sites were home to unknown bands or tribes. The several sites located near Washington Boro and Conestoga make a circuit of them all an interesting day trip or two.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Patty Inglish MS

Comments

Vicki Wood from Eldon, Missouri on January 08, 2020:

wish i had time to visit all of these. Great read!

Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on January 04, 2018:

Good point Patty; I think I'll wait 'till things warm up!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 04, 2018:

@Alexander - They are pretty interesting and right now, probably covered in snow! I an anxious for Spring to return so I can see them again.

Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on January 03, 2018:

I am very interested in the petroglyphs. I should go up there and take a look! :D

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 29, 2016:

@Andrea: The last time I checked, they are both available for visitation.

1) Call Manor TWP Offices at 717.397.4769 for hours and directions.

2) For Clemson Island sites: 3121 Susquehanna Trail Duncannon, PA 17020 and call the Harrisburg Visitors Center at 877.727.8573.

Have a grand time!

Andrea on April 29, 2016:

I'm wondering if I can visit these locations. Making a visit to Harrisburg in a few weeks and was particularly interested in seeing the Manor Township Sites and the Clemson Island Prehistoric District. Does anyone know if these places can be visited?

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 05, 2014:

Lots of interesting things going on back then!

random ed on May 04, 2014:

i wish i lived as an indian in pa 1000 years ago!!!!

Reve from Dhaka on March 21, 2012:

These places look pretty attractive to me. I wish to be there at least once in my life :)

Thanks for your hub

villasandhomes on January 15, 2012:

Very interesting hub

Kathy Henderson from Pa on January 14, 2012:

I live in PA now ~ sounds like we have some exploring to do :)

Snyder97 on January 05, 2012:

As a native of PA I loved this hub. Haven't been back for years but next time I certainly will look at some of these areas. Particularly interesting Muncy Valley.... Thanks...

svalentine79 from Fayetteville, Pa on October 17, 2011:

Love this! I live in Fayetteville, Pa

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 13, 2011:

Thanks for all the cooments and!

Allen Wiliams - I will look up your book, for sure...found and added it.

Allen Williams from Pennsylvania on August 12, 2011:

Very good article. I live in Pennsylvania and have visited many different attractions but I learned of some more here. I will have to check them out. I also wrote a book (People of the Same Sun) that takes place in Pennsylvania in the 1600's. It is about 2 Native Americans from different tribes, the Iroquois and the Leni-Lenape. Http://www.PeopleOfTheSameSun.com

Harlan Colt from the Rocky Mountains on February 16, 2011:

Being 1/4 Cherokee and 1/4 Sioux, I enjoy reading about such things. Thank you for sharing this with us, very nice.

- Harlan

jerrycorinadam from United State on February 15, 2011:

These places certainly appear to be attractive and are worth a visit.

Silver Fish from Edinburgh Scotland on January 27, 2011:

Fantastic hub, how interesting

deblipp on December 20, 2010:

Great Hub!!!!!

The hub is very much informative and knowledgeable. It is true that Pennsylvania lists one of the largest collection of National Historic Places registed in America and new places are accepted into "Commonwealth Treasure" historic status in an ongoing trend. The hub is really valuable for travelers and thanks a lot for sharing.

norcal from California on December 08, 2010:

This is a very informative hub and next time in PA I'll have to make a few stops! I'm going to share this with my friends who live there.

Chuck RitenouR from Front Royal, Virginia on November 23, 2010:

I enjoyed this very much.

ryankett on November 09, 2010:

Wow! You currently occupy the top 3 spots in the 'best hubs' category, major kudos!

Romeoelnecio on November 06, 2010:

I have been in Pennsylvania and my friends have never told me about the history of Pennsylvania and they never mentioned any of this. I guess they don't know about Pennsylvania that much. Well now I know, next time I go I'll tell them about it. It's very important know well the history of where you live.

matju71 on November 06, 2010:

I like it.Very Nice hub!!

MikeSyrSutton from An uncharted galaxy on November 06, 2010:

Very nice! New York is loaded with many such sites as well.

HubFan516 on November 03, 2010:

Nice to know for next time i visit Pennsylvania Thanks!

France Travel Inf on November 02, 2010:

I love Pennsylvania and LOVE LOVE your hubs! They are great reading!

http://www.france-travel-info.com

janessecret from Oz on November 02, 2010:

Next time I'm in the States I'm gonna check out as many of these as I can!

jeanie.stecher from Seattle on November 02, 2010:

I love those pictures. Cool, serene and relaxing. Like the place. I would love to go there. Love your hub.

Jennifer Ann from Australia on November 01, 2010:

Interesting hub. Thanks. I may never get to see many of the places, still, it doesn't hurt to dream.

molson5070 from State College, Pa on November 01, 2010:

great hub. you should add penn state university to your list. it really is a beautiful campus

Constanta on November 01, 2010:

This is a very useful information and great hub/article!

Thank you!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 29, 2010:

There must be 2 or 3 dozen smaller sites as well in Pennsylvania. I'm glad you liked these, earnesthub; thanks for reading!

earnestshub from Melbourne Australia on October 29, 2010:

I had no idea there were so many native American attractions in Pennsylvania, although I traveled through the state as a tourist some years ago, I managed to miss these.

Thank you for the tour Patty it was a real buzz.

jamesmspacey from Hobart, Australia on October 26, 2010:

That was fascinating! Thanks

kentuckyslone on September 24, 2010:

Beautifully done! I shared this with my Facebook friends

uykusuz from England on September 24, 2010:

I like it.Nice hub.

aperturering from Raleigh, NC on September 24, 2010:

Bushkill Falls is one of my favorite places to visit in Pennsylvania's Poconos. Besides the Beautiful Waterfalls there is a Native American Exhibit there and they regularly have Native American Dances and other events there.

konrel on September 24, 2010:

After reading your hub, I want to see PA. Sounds like a wonderful state to visit. Nice hub.

xiaoyu on September 23, 2010:

I agree there is something out there that will fit someone needs all they have to do is keep looking.

trimar7 from New York on September 23, 2010:

I was born just a few miles from Lock Haven, one of the sites mentioned in the hub. One should travel just a short hike to view the majestic beauty of the Hyner Look out and the surrounding area. My mom was just buried in the Northbend cemetary. I liked it for my dad who can go sit in a chair and talk to Mom while he gets panaramic mountain views - breath-taking!!!

firitalla from New York on September 23, 2010:

interesting hub! Great article

PatrickNormandin from New York on September 23, 2010:

Wonderful hub! It was worth to visit it.

qualifydisability from Irvine, CA on September 23, 2010:

Kind of a niche topic, but very well researched. My dad is interested in Native American history. I should let him know to plan his next vacation around this. Well done.

henrykasan from UK on September 22, 2010:

Enjoyable hub!!!!

The hub is immensely thrilling as it provide all the information about famous places situated in Pennsylvania. This list is regarded as one of the largest Historic Placed registered in America. Thanks a lot for sharing such a wonderful peace of text.

Kim Harris on September 08, 2010:

well written and nicely presented.....and rated 100! sweet. Thanks for the shining example Patty.

sandakalum from Toronto, Canada on September 04, 2010:

Nice hub! looking forward to visit when time and money permits.

nikitha p from India on September 04, 2010:

Very interesting hub! I liked it.

EliFox789 from Wonderland...or space on September 03, 2010:

Great article!I'm Native American and my tribe is in california

wicklesscandles on September 03, 2010:

What a awesome list of Native American Attractions in Pennsylvania. Maybe you could do the same thing for California?

Hotel Solvang on August 31, 2010:

Looks like there is some rich history in Pennsylvania. I have never spent time there, but it looks like there would be plenty to see and do. I always forget that there was life before the Amish and the Civil War.

belliott on August 31, 2010:

Great article with a wealth of information. Found the part about the petroglyph especially interesting.

andygrant on August 31, 2010:

Pennsylvania is really a great city to visit. This is really a great information about this amazing city with so many historical places.

hitalot on August 28, 2010:

Sounds like a good place in which to visit ?

Many times I thought about traveling to the Amish country yet haven't the time to do so ?

hitalot on August 27, 2010:

Very interesteing I can't wait to visit !

c.s.adams from Mission Viejo, CA on August 27, 2010:

Wow you should print this out and sell it at ranger stations! Next time I'm in Pennsylvania I'll be sure to visit the Petroglyphs.

Cy V on August 26, 2010:

Very interesting....I'd like to visit some of those places.

MKayo from Texas on August 26, 2010:

Very informative - lots of good info - thx!

Alternative Prime from > California on August 26, 2010:

Thanks for listing some very interesting places to see in PA.

The extensive research, time & effort you put into writing this piece is certainly appreciated by me. Every once in a while I get the chance to visit this historic state and the unique attractions it has to offer. Also, Pennsylvania is home to the "Little League World Series" tournament which is played every August in Williamsport....Hopefully some of the kids will get a chance to check out your top 10 list while they are visiting.

BenjaminB on August 24, 2010:

I've drove truck in a lot of rural areas in PA and it is a visually stimulating state to say the least.Great pictures!

Shawn Scarborough from The Lone Star State on July 23, 2010:

I wish I had this information sooner. I was recently in Pennsylvania visiting Gettysburg but I didn't know where else to go in Pennsylvania. I'll know where to go next time I'm up there.

Locker from 127.0.0.1 on July 21, 2010:

I've seen the Meadowcroft Rockshelter!

bd160900 from San Diego on July 21, 2010:

Great news! I'm from Ohio and drove through PENN all the time. I really enjoyed this one! Thanks for writing it.

Justin Dupre on July 20, 2010:

Pennsylvania is definitely one of oldest state that filled with American history and ancient building. This list is a great piece of information and I'll keep them in mind in case I ever got a chance to visit there. Thanks for sharing!

L M Reid from Ireland on July 19, 2010:

Wow Pennsylvania is full of history. I only got to visit America once but if I get a chance again I would certainly like to add Pennsylvania to my list. Love the Native American history too so lots for me to see and learn there

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on July 12, 2010:

These sites seem not well-advertised so a few worlds can bring new visitors without overwhelming the archaeology. It's a different kind of vacation, and relaxing. Thanks for all the comments!

CYBERSUPE from MALVERN, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A. on July 12, 2010:

A lifelong (79) years as a resident of this great state of Pennsylvania and I had no Idea of the History you brought forth in this Hub. Patty, Thank You so very much for bringing this information to all uf us.

G L Strout from Ohio, USA on July 12, 2010:

I am a historiy major and I didn't know about the petroglyphs in Pennsylvania! Thank you for sharing I learned something new today.

cjxalex from Guzhen, Zhongshan City, Guangdong, China on July 12, 2010:

That is very useful information, if I have the chance to go to American, I will visit. Thanks.

mquee from Columbia, SC on July 12, 2010:

This is an excellent and detailed discription of Pennsylvania's many sites and interests. This hub caught my eye because I grew in Ohio. Thank you for a very informative and well researched topic.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on July 12, 2010:

Thnk you for such a feast of reading and learning. I Loved every line of it.