There really is a Slippery Rock - a certain rock in the Lawrence County
section of the creek, located about a mile and a half from Wurtemburg,
and just as slippery today as it was in 1864, when J.P. Lesley labled it
on his 1864 Pennsylvania Geological Survey map.
Virginia Lytle, an alumna of the college, and wife of William Lytle,
division chief of the Oil and Gas Division of the Pennsylvania
Geological Survey Staff, described her inquiry about and visit to
" The Slippery Rock " in a report published Nov. 11, 1973 in the
Pittsburgh Press Rote, and reprinted in the 1974 issue of
Armed with the 100 - year - old - map ( which Lytle also made
available to the Eagle ), the couple drove to Wurtemburg in
Lawrence County and walked to " the tangle of cliff and brush
that lined the eastern bank of the creek just below the map
location of The Slippery Rock.
Hike Delayed - Because it was spring, John Eicholtz, owner
of the house on the east side of the creek just south of the
rock's location, told them high water would make walking too
slippery, and recpmmended that they come back in September.
In this interval, they researched historical records, noting that
recurrently the singular, Slippery Rock, was used indicating
that there was one, special rock.
Mrs. Lytle, suggests that the rock, as designated may have
been at the site of a ford used by foot travelers and horseback
riders. The flat rock, even though it was slippery, would have
provided a logical fording place. She further suggests that
building of bridges lessened the importance of fording sites,
and the location may have been lost with the passing of time.
In September, the Lytles returned to " The Slippery Rock site,
and with Eicholtz as their guide, made their way along the
gently sloping stream bank. The east wall of the gorge, she
notes, rises abruptly a few feet beyond the shoreline.
' The Slippery Rock ' - " The main difference in the terrain when
we reach the rock is to my untrained eye," she writes, " that
instead of hopping from slippery stone to slippery stone, we are
standing now on one flat, gently sloping, moist rock. It is
covered (as are the smaller stones) with algae and moss - that
glistens with an oil - appearing iridescence. The sloping rock
had been resistent to the rushing force of the stream and now
provided the creek with a deceptively almost - level bank and bed.
" The exposed portion of the solid rock extends along the edge
of the creek for at least 25 feet. The dampness that covers
the rock comes from a trickle of water seeping from between the
strata of shale and coal along the wall of the gorge. For the
length of the exposed slippery rock there is no dry bank to
walk on -- just the creek, moist -- sloping, slippery rock, and the gorge.
Although no oil was seen seeping out of the sandstone, none was
expected, since the gas pressure, which had been forcing the
oil out was depleted long ago by the oil wells.
Lesley, whose map and profile of a line of levels along
Slippery Rock Creek is appended to the Second Geological
Survey, was state geologist in 1874, when the report was
published. He says " The Slippery Rock, which gave name
to this fine stream at the first settlement of the country, is a
plate of sandstone lying in place on the east bank, about a
mile above Van Gordon's bridge (no longer standing) where
was anatural exudation of petroleum. " Lytle explains that
the " natural exudation" or oil seep, was in Lawerence
County about a mile and a half north of Wurtemburg along the
creek, and was the reason the area was drilled originally for
oil and gas. The Lawerence well, first commercial oil well in
the area, was drilled soon after the drake Well. The oil field
discovered by Lawerence was named The Slippery Rock Field.
" The evidence," Lytle says, " points to this plate of rock as being
that described by Lesley and designated as The Slippery Rock.
The rock is on the John Eicholtz property,
Mrs. Lytle's article concludes.
It can be seen along the east bank of the creek from the
Glasser bridge, or from the west bank, looking across and
downstream, from the southern tip of Camp Allegheny, the
Pittsburgh Salvation Army. Most -- and sometimes all of
the rock is under water. All of its algae, moss, and mud --
covered - treacherous and beautiful in its rustic setting.