The Big Rock


Exploring the woods around the airport I found a big rock. Not at all a small rock but a big one. I knew it was in the woods to the east of the airport hangar, I remembered it from my childhood. Our family always called it the Big Rock. So I went looking for it.

My cousin Rob Hogan on the left. I am on the right, King of the Hill! Photo by Bob Hogan circa 1964

I had always assumed and imagined the Big Rock traveled a great distance from the north on the back of a glacier whose icy tentacle placed it just so, then left it to cook in the Piedmont heat like a lump of sourdough, before racing back north, melting in the rising heat.

Boy was I wrong.

I spoke with a friend of mine who studied archeology in graduate school and showed him the Big Rock. When I shared with Chris Senior my suspicions of how the Big Rock got here, its imaginative journey, he did a big eye roll.  “No Don, the glaciers did not come this far south. This rock has been pushed up from below.” Evidently the big granite bolder was part of molten rock way below our feet and pushed up by volcanic activity hundreds of millions of years ago. And, he went on to say that likely the Big Rock was the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, and that this was a tough little nugget that erosion was still working on. “Little nugget” may be a stretch, I thought, the Big Rock is huge.

Standing over 8 feet high and with a circumference of over 40 feet, putting the diameter at the base least 12 feet or more, this is one Big Rock!

The circumference is almost 40 feet and if I did my math right that would put the diameter over twelve feet. It is over eight feet tall, and by any measure a Big Rock. “I am not a geologist” Chris qualified, “I may be wrong, but I doubt it. Native peoples would have used this rock as a meeting place, a road side attraction of sorts. They all would have known of this rock and how to get here.” Can you imagine, the plans made through millennium to meet at the Big Rock where Chris and I were standing today? I could. It had been the case in my childhood.

The Occaneechi, Haw, and Eno were early people to live near the Big Rock and the airport I know and love. I am sure many footpaths and trails crisscrossed the farm. As European surveyors and explorers traversed North Carolina in the early 1700s, John Lawson met the Occaneechi tribe in 1701. Maybe they met at the Big Rock? I don’t know if they did or didn’t but according to what I learned from my friend Chris, they just might have. My understanding of the Big Rock has changed and my imagination has too.

Yes, I am sure they met there.

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