large, flat-topped stone that ancestors of the Puyallup Indians
probably used as an observatory once sat in a hilly meadow fringed
by forest, just south of Bonney Lake.
the monolith, called Skystone by the experts who discovered its
function, squats on the edge of Naches Terrace, a 46-home development
the silence of the forest once prevailed, noise from nail guns,
moving trucks and lifting cranes cuts through the misty morning
Bonney Lake Historical Society wants to help people learn about
the history that's represented by the rock, a centuries-old observatory
and seasonal calculator.
society members have asked the city to pay for a directional road
sign, as well as a plaque or monument placed near the rock that
explains its significance. The rock and the surrounding development
now reside in the city.
are historic things in Bonney Lake," said Jennifer Whipkey
of the historical society. "People like this kind of stuff.
People can get in touch, feel a connection."
City Council said last week that it would be receptive to a proposal
from the society.
city required the home developer to fence and protect the parallelogram-shaped
stone, which is 4 1/2 feet high and about 12 feet across. The dark
gray rock is common in morainic rock, or sediment left behind in
the wake of a glacier.
now enclosed in a cyclone fence with a gate and is located near
the top of a high ridge along a gravel nature trail. The rock's
flat top surface is now covered with moss and partially overshadowed
by branches of a small tree.
Puyallup Tribe of Indians believed for many years that the rock
had cultural and historical significance. Archaeologist Gerald Hedlund
and retired astronomer Dennis Regan examined it and said it had
scientific significance as well. They presented their findings at
a meeting of experts in Spokane in 2000.
people carved out 20 holes on the top surface with other stones
and used sticks and rocks in the holes or cordlike material to connect
the holes. The scientists used computer models based on the alignments
to make their discoveries:
ancient people developed a direction finder for true north by
indicating the location of Polaris, the North Star.
used the rock surface and holes to locate other stars and constellations.
used the surface and holes to predict seasonal changes by marking
the sun's position.
least 200 years ago, ancestors of the Puyallups had artificially
fashioned the rock for such purposes and possibly for religious
and educational reasons as well, the scientists said.
kinds of ancient observatories have been found elsewhere, from Idaho
to Mexico. Known as "sun daggers," they were built by
ancient Indian tribes.
Martin lives in a new home down the hill from Skystone and has heard
a tribal rock," he said last week as he pointed up the hill
to the tall fence around the monolith. "They would use it to
determine when to fish, the time of day, the year."
Councilman Dan Swatman said the nature trail that provides access
to the rock is open to the public.
Society members will consult with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians,
develop wording for the plaque, look at potential costs and make
a presentation to the City Council at a later date.
site is registered with the state Office of Archaeology and Historic
Preservation, state archaeologist Robert Whitlam said.