The fame of the Slippery Rock football team, the Rockets, dates back
to 1936, when a playful sports writer "proved" that this team deserved
the title of Best in the Nation. The Rockets beat Westminster 14 - 0,
which beat West Virginia Weslyan 7 - 6, which beat Dequesne 2
which in turn beat Pittsburgh 7- 0, which beat Notre Dame 26 - 0,
which beat Northwestern 26 - 0, which beat Minnesota 6 - 0.
The question often asked through the years as Slippery Rock
football scores are broadcast across the nation has been
" Is there really a Slippery Rock ? "
Since as far back as the 1700's, the stream has been
referred to by the Delaware Indians, the french, the british,
the Americans as " The Slippery Rock " or " Flat Rock "
- always in the singular. But is there really one special
and if there is, where might it be located ? A map prepared
in 1864, and publishes by the Second Pennsylvania
Geologic Survey (forerunner to the present Bureau of
Topographic and Geologic Survey) in 1874 labels a site
along Slippery Rock Creek in Lawrence County, near the
present location of McConnell's Mill State Park, as " The
Slippery Rock." The identification of this spot as " The
Slippery Rock" probably came from old timers in the
area talked to geologists of the Second Survey.
Why was this particular rock, among all of the slippery
rocks along the 49 miles of the stream in Butler and
Lawrence counties, so note worthy ? For one reason,
according to the 1874 geological report, there was a
natural oil seep at the location (the Slippery Rock oil
field was eventually developed because of this seep).
Also, an Indian path from present-day Pittsburgh to
present-day New Castle crossed the creek in this area.
Possibly, this particular rock was located where the
path forded the stream. Indeed, the "SLIPPERY ROCK,"
as located in the 1864 map, is a flat piece of sandstone
extending into the stream from a very steep bank. It
is quite possible that an early path, now obscured,
crossed there. If so, then this rock, excessively slippery
because it was coated with oil, was located at a ford on
a well traveled path, where travelers probably had little
choice but to cross it.
It may never be known if this is really "The Slippery Rock,"
or if this is how it received its name, but this rock is as
likely as any other similar rock to be " The Slippery Rock."
This single rock is potentially the source for the name of a
stream, a town, a university, on oil field, an oil sand from
which the oil field produces, and a period of glaciation.
And how many other single rocks are mentioned weekly
on National television during the football season ?
( This article is condensed and modified from an article
written by Virginia and Bill Lytle and published in
Pennsylvania Geology in 1974. Bill Lytle was geologist
with the Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey
for 34 years. Pennsylvania Geology is a free quarterly
publication ob the Bureau of Topographic and
Geologic Survey. )