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Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, authorized in 1965, marks the site where native peoples made their tools and weapons. On the harsh, dry, high plains of the Texas Panhandle, in a region known as Llano Estacado, humans carved out a living for more than 12,000 years. At the Alibates Flint Quarries, in the red bluffs above the Canadian River, pre-Columbian Indians quarried agatized dolomite, chipping and flaking it to make spear points, knives, scrapers, and other tools.

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
©National Park Service
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument includes the quarries
and the ruins of several Indian dwellings.

Archaeologists theorize that people of the Ice Age Clovis Culture hunted with spears tipped with colorful Alibates flint points. They dug by hand or used sticks or bone tools to reach the flint layer, which could be up to six feet thick. Later Indians continued to use the rainbow-hued flint to make tools, but they also traded it for Pacific Coast seashells, Minnesota pipestone, painted pottery from Pueblo Indians of the Southwest, and other goods.

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument offers guided tours of the quarries. The monument also contains the ruins of several Plains Village Indian dwellings. Between a.d. 1150 and 1500, these ancestors of the Pawnee and Wichita Indians built villages of rock-slab houses containing up to 100 rooms. On a bluff near the dwellings they carved turtles, bison, and other images into the rock. Historians believe that a long, severe drought, combined with raids from aggressive tribes nearby, caused the Plains Village Indians to abandon this area.

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument Information

Address: Fritch, TX 79036
Telephone: 806/857-3151
Hours of Operation: Tours year-round, by reservation only
Admission: Free

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Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.