|Photo Credit: Andrew Feight, Ph.D.|
The passenger pigeon flocks that once darkened this valley's skies have long since disappeared and while the great American bison, the deer, bear, and panther no longer seek out the saline waters of the Scioto Salt Licks, migrating human populations who first came to this valley because of its abundant game have definitely settled in and left their mark. As with the birds, there are old human migratory flows that drew and, to a certain degree, continue to draw people into this valley. There are little eddies here and there that swirl about and over the years they have managed to overpower many a rambling bone.
Though I am relatively a newcommer here, I followed the path of many of the first white and black American immigrants who came to this region from the southeastern side of the Appalachian Mountains. From the foothills of Georgia and South Carolina, through the Cumberland Gap and into the Kentucky Bluegrass, I eventually made my way to the mouth of the Scioto River in Southern Ohio.
Over the millenia a number of different civilizations have inhabited this region - migrants all. They have come and gone and returned. Whether the prehistoric Native Americans or their European, African, and Mexican American successors, many decided to stay here and sow their seeds and reap their life's joys and sorrows. Yet, like the migratory birds of this spring, there is no doubt that more have simply passed by and through our valley than have made this their home and laid their bones in our soil.
If one stays in this valley long enough to know it, the layers of its history, reaching back to the earliest days of contact between Native Americans and European explorers, reveal themselves to be as rich as the valley's primeval forest, when the passenger pigeon turned day into night and the doe and the buck were so thick that the Shawnee spoke of a river of deer.