Indian Punch Bowl

Several Native American tribes occupied the area surrounding Fredericksburg around the time that John Smith was exploring the rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.  Supposedly, the tribes used certain indigenous plants to mix poisons for hunting, creating shallow “bowls” carved into rocks near the river.  One such carving, known as the “Indian Punch Bowl,” was discovered and given this specific name by Major Francis Thornton, who inscribed the stone in 1720.  The Thornton family opened several of the original mills located in this section of the Rappahannock River, including a grist mill near the Falmouth Bridge.  The bowl-shaped indention in the rock was said to have been carved by Native Americans in order to mix poisons for their arrows.  Thornton often hosted large parties on his property along the river, and supposedly served punch to his guests from the rock, thus lending it the name “Indian Punch Bowl.”

 

Photo Credit: http://gale-gaylefamilies.com/matthew-gayle-of-gloucester-spotsylvania-counties-va-part-i.html

Photo Credit: http://gale-gaylefamilies.com/matthew-gayle-of-gloucester-spotsylvania-counties-va-part-i.html

 

The Indian Punch bowl after a rainstormPhoto credit: Lara Belfield

The Indian Punch Bowl filled with water after a rainstorm.
Photo credit: Lara Belfield

 

The rock of the Indian Punch Bowl.Photo Credit: Lara Belfield

The rock of the Indian Punch Bowl.
Photo Credit: Lara Belfield

 

A sign placed next to the Indian Punch Bowl that asks visitors to consider its origins and uses.Photo Credit: Lara Belfield

A sign placed next to the Indian Punch Bowl that asks visitors to consider its origins and uses.
Photo Credit: Lara Belfield

 

The Indian Punch Bowl as seen from the Trail. Photo Credit: Lara Belfield

The Indian Punch Bowl as seen from the Trail.
Photo Credit: Lara Belfield

More information about the Thornton family’s mills can be found here by scanning the QR code at the next stop.

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