As you stand before the imposingly large cave-like structure and prepare to enter, you wonder if it will be dark inside, what will you be able to see? The floor appears as a dry river bed swept clean, a reminder that water has been here. First impressions leave you wondering if the interior will be small and dark and cave-like within. Yet one more step into the darkness surprisigly opens up into what is in effect a huge, don’t underestimate that ‘huge’, tee-pee made of giant stones. As you stand in the center, throw your head back, look straight up, astonishingly you take in blue sky, trees towering far above you and the light of day pouring through the center opening. The center opening, merely a by-product from the angles that the huge rock formations have taken as their foundations moved and shifted through the centuries, causing their tops to careen over. They now gracefully rest one upon another. As the light of day shines through the enorminity and character of the walls come into focus. It is a room. You are protected from the elements. You can imagine the history that has unfolded here.
Massive rock formations, placed as if they were set by hand, create a shelter, a ‘ rock house’ as these places are known locally. Indians and the first settlers used the ‘rock houses’ as meeting places, conventions centers of their day.
The ‘House Rock’ on West River Road at Shoals was just such a meeting place. Formed by two several hundred-ton sandstone blocks slipping on the weak underlying foundation and lodging upon each other. This particular formation is the greatest of the cave shelters along the White River locally known as “rock houses.”
History of Martin County
by Harry Q. Holt