In 1858, George Peck wrote his book, Wyoming, Its History. Within its pages is the recording of a visit that Peck made to the northern end of our valley near Pittston, Pennsylvania. One day, Peck walked up this mountain struggling to see through the dense leaves. “The woods at last became more open and I saw the mountains at the west near. I turned at once toward them, when I found myself just ready to step off from the abrupt brow of a frightful precipice. I seized hold of a tree and hung upon the verge and gazed down with awe upon the calm river, the green fields and the grazing flocks hundreds of feet below.”
This ledge goes by two names—Campbell’s Ledge and Dial Rock. Local legend has it that the name Campbell comes from a time when a man by the same name was being pursued by Indians who were intent on a slow, torturous death for their victim. Campbell tried as he might to outwit and elude his pursuers. Alas, no matter what he did, they continued to hound him. So, rather than succumb to his captors, Campbell leaped to his death from the top of the ledge. Another version has Campbell leaping off the top of the ledge on his horse into the river below. That would require quite a jump, as the river is several hundred feet from the bottom of the mountain.
A poem, “Gertrude of Wyoming”, written by Scotland’s Thomas Campbell in 1809, is a more plausible reason for the name Campbell’s Ledge. This place was supposedly named in the poet’s honor for his beautiful tribute to our valley that reflected his thoughts about what happened in the Battle of Wyoming that took place during the American Revolution. The first few refrains Campbell writes:
On Susquehanna’s side, fair Wyoming!
Although the wild-flower on thy ruin’d wall,
And roofless homes, a sad remembrance bring,
Of what thy gentle people did befall;
Yet thou wert once the loveliest land of all
That see the Atlantic wave their morn restore.
Sweet land! may I thy lost delights recall,
And paint thy Gertrude in her bowers of yore,
Whose beauty was the love of Pennsylvania's shore!
The other name for this place, which is less than a mile north of the confluence of the Lackawanna and Susquehanna River, is Dial Rock. The local farmers knew that it was about lunch time when the sun lit up the face of the rock. Before that, Native Americans used the sun’s shadow on the rock to tell the time of day.
Located today at the bottom of the mountain is an archaeological site. It has been set up to unearth the Native American artifacts used and left there. To date, nearly 20,000 pieces of material culture have been uncovered.
Students will learn about the geographical site that marks the northern end of Wyoming Valley.
Colonial through present time.
Contact a speaker from the Frances Dorrance chapter 11-SPA for archaeological studies. The contact person is: Edythe Gozdiskowski and can be reached at . Have students find out what kinds of artifacts have been uncovered. After making a list of several of the significant finds, ask the speaker from where those items might have brought.
Using a map, determine the route Indian traders may have used. Students may also be interested in the age of the items.
Frances Dorrance chapter of the society for Pennsylvania archaeology