Buffalo in Western Virginia
just east of my boyhood home on the last named stream, was known as a "Buffalo Wallow, or Stamping Ground." The soil is a stiff red clay, and over an area of perhaps a quarter of an acre, there was a depression of from one to two feet, devoid of timber. I was familiar with this "wallow" while the ridge was yet covered with forest; but it has since been practically obliterated by the plow. There was also a small "bear wallow" on the opposite high ridge next to Bridge Run, which was visible only a few years ago.
A slightly brackish or saline spring, on Bone Creek, a tributary of Hughes River, Ritchie County, West Virginia, was evidently a resort of buffalo and other large animals. The spring, or lick, is on the old Somerville farm near Auburn, and is located at the head of a shallow marshy ravine in the creek bottom. The deep paths worn in the banks of the ravine by the hoofs of the animals were still visible when I visited it in 1879. The Creek derived its name from the numerous bones and teeth found at this "Bone Lick." Some of the teeth were very large. One seen and described by Captain John Somerville as a "double molar" was evidently that of a mastodon. Another remarkable specimen was a "tusk" which, when "placed with either point on a table, described an arch through which a large inverted teacup could be passed."
Evidence of an occupation of this bottom by the aborigines were not lacking. A grooved, well-polished, hard stone axe, about six inches in length, was ploughed up just above the lick. In another part of the same field, and near a living spring, stood an oak, not less than three feet in diameter. This tree was made into rails, and when cut, it was found to have been ineffectually girdled when only about five inches in diameter. The girdling was about two feet from the ground and was a series of bruises from a blunt implement, such as would be produced with a stone axe. The injury caused a swelling, or ridged growth, in which at one point a small cavity had formed. In this was a sandstone, one inch in thickness other dimensions not given.
In 1886 Captain Somerville in digging a fish pond about fifty feet below where the last mentioned spring now comes to the surface, at a depth of three feet took out a quantity of stone where the spring had at some former time, been systematically walled. Flint implements and other relics of primitive industry have often been unearthed by the plow contiguous to these springs.