Upper Black Eddy, PA
By Michael Boyink
Going in, it looks like every county park you’ve been to. There’s a small sign partially obscured behind a power pole. There’s a circle drive in the forest with about a dozen parking spots. There are picnic tables and a portable outhouse.
But it’s what this park didn’t have that made it one of our favorite stops in eight years on the road.
There are no on-site rangers. There’s no interpretive center or gift shop. No equipment rental booths. No boxes with printed pamphlets. No signs with detailed scientific explanations for what we were about to experience.
And that’s because science can’t explain it.
A footpath through the woods took us to a clearing large enough to play about five games of football in. The clearing contains a 10-foot deep tumble of boulders, ranging from footstool to refrigerator-sized.
And these rocks?
Strike a ringer with a hammer, and it will produce a resonate metallic sound. It’s a bit like hitting a railroad spike with a sledge hammer.
A non-ringer will just thud – like a hammer on cement.
The ringers are easy to spot. Hammer-wielding visitors have been hopping through these rocks for over a hundred years, leaving behind a musical trail of pock marks to follow.
There have even been concerts staged, with multiple “rock musicians” swinging away at the same time.
After rock-hopping and hammering we had a single question. Why do some ring while others don’t?
Wikipedia has a page on ringing rocks. It has several paragraphs about the science behind these and other ringing rock fields found in Australia and England.
You can sum up the answer in three words: “We don’t know.”
I love that.
There’s so much we humans do know. At the molecular level we can talk of atoms, bonding, and geometries. At the galactic level we can talk about stars, interstellar gas, and dark matter.
In between those extremes are almost countless areas of discipline that people build entire careers and livelihoods around.
We know so much. Sometimes we think we know it all.
Yet, here’s a simple, inexplicable rock.
It’s a good reminder that we humans aren’t so smart after all. But there is One who is. And He said something that makes me wonder if the ringing rocks aren’t a gentle reproof.
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
The rocks are crying out.
Are we being too quiet?
Ringing Rocks County Park is roughly two hours north of Philadelphia, PA. The park doesn’t have an address, use GPS coordinates 40.559916, -75.128538 instead. Bring your own hammer.