NORWAY — The remains of the so-called Indian Rock were taken to their resting place at the Lake Pennesseewassee picnic area Thursday.
However, officials said the wrong rock may have made the journey.
"It was a big rock with a hole in it. We assumed it was the Indian Rock," Town Manager David Holt said to the Board of Selectmen at a meeting Thursday night.
The town had received a letter hours earlier from Harrison Road resident Jerry Ellingwood denouncing the rock as a fake.
The rock, which has a deep depression allegedly used by prehistoric Indians to grind corn, faced obliteration by a $1.6 million Maine Department of Transportation road reconstruction this summer. Ellingwood, a former MDOT employee who had been shown the rock years ago, proposed saving it.
Officials and townspeople sprung into action, approving $300 at a town meeting and another $1,000 in personal funds from Selectman Bill Damon — and even a $50 contribution from an anonymous Bridgton resident to fund the project, which included having an historical marker made.
In late August, officials gathered at the rock in hopes of watching an excavator remove it, but the rock turned out to be part of a much larger outcrop extending across the road. Even a Komatsu 382 excavator, capable of lifting 18 tons, was no match for the rock.
Several weeks later, MDOT resident engineer David Lycette announced workers had successfully removed a large piece of the rock in two pieces, including the "bowl," with a jackhammer. The Norway Highway Department was sent to retrieve it.
Ellingwood said that if town officials had asked him to accompany them on the morning of the excavation, the mistake would not have happened.
"The large hole which was saved and is now in the process of being displayed at the rest area is not (by a long shot) the Indian rock hole which was shown to me years ago when we were surveying for the highway improvement,"
Ellingwood wrote in his letter.
Holt said Thursday night that not only is the rock at the lake now in question, but the results of the state archaeologist's review of the rock over the past two decades is questionable, depending on which rock they were asked to authenticate.
According to Ellingwood, the "real" Indian Rock has a hole 6 to 8 inches in diameter, 6 to 8 inches under the gravel shoulder of the road.
The rock that was excavated by the MDOT has a hole much larger and deeper.
"Anyone who is interested in Indian culture would never believe the hole which was salvaged had anything to do with grinding corn as it is way too big and the edges of it are obviously made from years of spinning water in a whirlpool," Ellingwood wrote. "The sharp edges would have been knocked off and smoothed out if it had been used to grind corn."
Holt said the big question for selectmen was what to do.
"A lot of folks put a lot of effort into this to do the right thing," Selectman Russ Newcomb said. He saw a number of people at the rock Thursday taking pictures of it, he said.
"We still have to decide what we want to do with the rock," he said. "It still could be a legendary rock."