Indian head Rock to be returned to Kentucky on Thursday

By Mark Shuller - Email

FRANKFORT, KY (FOX19)The eight-ton boulder known as Indian Head Rock, a historic artifact taken from the Ohio River in 2007 by a dive team from Ohio, will be returned to its rightful home in Kentucky tomorrow morning, according to the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office.

The city of Portsmouth, Ohio agreed to relinquish custody and control of the artifact and permit its transport to Greenup County following an Agreed Order between the city and Commonwealth of Kentucky earlier this year dismissing a civil suit against the city and two men involved in its retrieval.

For now, the artifact will be moved to and stored in a Greenup County garage until a permanent home can be found and funds identified to help put it on display for public viewing, according to Greenup County Judge Executive Robert Carpenter. The goal will be to create educational materials to interpret its history and context for the public, explain the importance of protecting Kentucky's archaeological resources and educate about the federal and state laws that govern protection of these resources.

The dispute over the boulder, which gets its name from what appears to be a face possibly carved by an early Native American, began after Ironton, Ohio historian Steven Shaffer led an expedition to remove the rock from the river. Neither Shaffer nor dive team member David Vetter had sought authorization from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Army Corps of Engineers, or any official or agency, to remove the historic artifact. They had also not filed for any permits requesting to remove the protected antiquity, which served as a noted historical high-water marker on the river.

Because the integrity of the archaeological site has been compromised, returning the rock to the Ohio River would serve no purpose, according to Mark Dennen, Kentucky Heritage Council executive director and state historic preservation officer. The move is tentatively scheduled to get underway at 10:00 a.m. at the Portsmouth municipal garage.