Sanford displays new exhibit

Monday, December 22, 2014
Megan Stroh, Sanford Museum Archeolgist, and Michele Dieber Kumm, who created the mural for the Pilot Rock permanant display, pose by the newly completed display, loacted on the lower level of the Sanford Museum. Photo by Ken Ross

Pilot Rock has been a landmark of the area since prehistoric times, and it is now the subject of a permanent exhibit at the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee.

The large quartzite boulder was pushed to its present location by glacial action during an ice age and is referred to as a "glacial erratic."

The boulder is 20 feet high with base dimensions of 40 by 61 feet.

Pilot Rock served as a sacred location for Native American Indians prior to the arrival of Europeans and the early European settlers of the continent used it as a guiding landmark.

Michele Dieber Kumm painted a mural of the rock for the display on the lower level of the museum. Megan Stroh, Sanford Museum Archaeologist, provided information to accompany the painting.

Important features of the rock establishing the rock as a sacred place for Native Americans are the petroglyphs, shallow pictorial engravings made by prehistoric people.

Stroh noted that study of the petroglyphs is ongoing. She added that the petroglyphs are rather fragile and subject to damage both from natural erosion and vandalism.

The boulder is located on a bluff overlooking the Little Sioux River south of Cherokee. It is on private land and is not accessible to the general public.

The property owners have been cooperative with those wanting to study the rock.

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