Have you ever seen an arrowhead at Watoga State Park?
Recently, I spoke to two gentleman (both named Ken) who found arrowheads at the park.
Finding an Arrowhead with your Dad — Priceless
Ken Caplinger, former Watoga Assistant Superintendent (1979-1984), later served as West Virginia State Parks Chief and is now a board member of the West Virginia State Parks Foundation.
“One was by an employee when we were building the Allegheny Trail connector from the Beaver Creek Campground over toward Honeymoon Trail.
“The other was when my Dad was visiting me and he accompanied me on a work task to the picnic area over across from Pine Run cabin area. We were walking along the little creek that comes down from the picnic shelter and he spotted an arrowhead in the edge of the creek.”
Finding an 11,000-Year-Old Arrowhead
Ken Springer, Vice-President of The Watoga Foundation, relayed the following:
“I found the arrowhead approximately three years ago on the Monongaseneka Trail. See more of Ken’s find including the history of arrowheads here.
Ken stated that the “design indicates it may be Archaic, a group of Native Americans who lived in settlements in our area in the period from 9000 BC to 4500 BC. “
“If it were a projectile point, it would have been used with a spear and atlatl [a spear-throwing lever], not a bow and arrow as they were yet to be invented in North America.”
Ken Springer’s arrowhead is on display at the Watoga Nature Center. Please note that it is illegal to remove any object, such as an arrowhead, from any park in West Virginia.
Finding Your First Arrowhead With Your Brother
I was with my older brother, Ronnie, when I discovered my first arrowhead, but I was not allowed to keep it. Our dad, a park ranger at Watoga, taught us at a young age not to keep what nature left for us and others to admire and enjoy.
However, it was always an adventure searching for these flint-like creations. The expansiveness of Watoga and nearby Calvin Price State Forest provided Ronnie and I ample opportunities to search for arrowheads. And, getting to see one up close and personal proved to be exhilarating for an 8-year-old.
The Airstrip and Calvin Price State Forest
There were a couple of spots where Ronnie and I found those treasured items.
Specifically, we had the most success on our exploration missions at the expansive airstrip near the Beaver Creek Campground.
At least once a week, Ronnie and I would venture into the secluded wilderness that surrounded us. Notably, the first time that I ever spotted an arrowhead was along the path leading into the forest, close to a small mountain stream oftentimes reduced to a trickle during the heat of the summer. Just seeing one and not even having picked it up yet caused my heart to beat faster.
Excitedly, I jumped up and down with joy.
“Ronnie, Ronnie, look what I found! Come over here. I think it’s an arrowhead.”
Of course, Ronnie was wiser about these matters than me, and upon closer inspection, he said: “You sure did, Johnny. Wow, that’s a nice one too!”
Remembering What Dad Taught Us
Before crossing that small creek to head home, Ronnie stopped. He showed me what Dad had taught us about not removing or keeping historic artifacts that we may discover at the park. Ronnie slowly bent down and carefully placed the tan-colored arrowhead neatly under a nearby rock.
“There,” Ronnie said, “I wonder who will discover this next?”
During your stay at Watoga, explore and take in the wilderness surrounding you. You may even see the arrowhead that Ronnie and I returned to its rightful place more than 50 years ago. In the meantime, please give any discoveries to personnel at the park office for display at the nature center or simply leave it where you found it. The next park visitor will be glad that you did.
About the Author
John C. Dean lived at Watoga from for 16 years until his father, Vernon, retired after 43 years of service with the Division of Natural Resources. On John’s “bucket list” is returning to the airstrip and seeing an arrowhead one last time. You can reach John at .