Mantle Rock Archeological District

Also known as: KY Survey # 15LV37/LV-14
KY133, Smithland, Kentucky


By Nyttend - Own work, Public Domain,



Mantle Rock Significance and History 

from NHRP application

Mantle Rock consists of a natural sandstone arch, woodlands, several springs, and a section of the original Salem-Golconda Road. The property is located southwest of State Route 133 in Livingston County, Kentucky, approximately one mile east of the Ohio River. Mantle Rock is located in a shallow valley in the watershed of McGilligan Creek at an elevation of approximately 450' above sea level. The property encompasses approximately 215 acres, and is now owned and protected by the Kentucky Nature Conservancy.

Mantle Rock is reached by a gravel road directly off State Route 133, west of the small crossroads community of Joy. Adjacent to the gravel road along State Route 133 is a state historic marker containing text describing the historic significance of Mantle Rock during the Trail of Tears. This freestanding marker is included as a non-contributing object to the property. The driveway leads to a gravel parking lot and a dirt trail leads from the parking lot to Mantle Rock. Approximately 600' from the parking lot the trail crosses the roadbed of the historic Salem-Golconda Road. Within the boundary of the Mantle Rock property this roadbed extends approximately 450'. The roadbed is ten to twelve feet in width and has embankments ranging up to five feet in height. This roadbed is well defined and the roadbed itself contains bushes and small trees. This roadbed was utilized by the Lt. B.B. Cannon party in 1837 and by the various detachments of the Cherokee on the Northern Route in 1838 and 1839. The roadbed is included as a contributing site to the property.

Following the roadbed, the trail passes a wood wayside marker erected within the past twenty years which describes
the geology and history of Mantle Rock. This wayside exhibit is included as a non-contributing structure to the property. The trail then leads to Mantle Rock which is a natural rock formation. Mantle Rock is a 30 foot high sandstone arch which spans 188 feet in length. It is one of the longest natural arches in Kentucky and provides an ample amount of shelter beneath. In addition to Mantle Rock itself, the property contains other natural rock outcroppings and features. Several springs emerge near the base of Mantle Rock and flow into nearby McGilligan Creek. The remainder of the Mantle Rock property is covered with a hardwood forest and is accessible via hiking trails. No buildings or other structures are within the boundary of the Mantle Rock property.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on November 26, 2004
Reference number
Areas of significance
Ethnic Heritage - Native American; Archeology - Prehistoric
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; D - Information Potential
Property type
Historic functions
Camp; Natural feature; Road-related; Village site; Graves/burials; Work of art (sculpture, carving, rock art); Processing site
Current functions
Natural feature; Outdoor recreation; Forest; Conservation area
Periods of significance
1825-1849; 7500-7999 BC; 7000-7499 BC; 5000-6999 BC; 3000-4999 BC; 1000-2999 BC; 1000 AD-999 BC; 1499-1000 AD; 1749-1500 AD
Significant years
1838; 1839
Number of properties
Contributing structures: 1
Contributing sites: 15
Non-contributing structures: 1
Non-contributing sites: 1
Non-contributing objects: 1

Update Log 

  • November 12, 2020: Essay added by iconions
  • November 12, 2020: New photos from iconions
  • July 17, 2017: New photo from Bill Eichelberger