Fragments of an Earlier World


GIRTY'S FACE, on the Susquehanna trail between Harrisburg and Williamsport, Pa. Back of these rocks in the mountains was the cave of Samuel Girty the Outlaw. He was born in 1744. In 1756 his mother was killed by the Indians and he was adopted by the tribe and became one of the most desperate characters in Colonial History.


Whitman's Phototypes, Canton, Pa.


Simon Girty (1741-1818) was the son of an Irish immigrant trader who settled in Pennsylvania. After his family was captured by Lenape Indians in the French and Indian war, his stepfather was tortured and killed and young Simon was sent to the Seneca tribe who raised him. Later he worked as a scout and intepreter during the American Revolution. After witnessing atrocities by soldiers against the Lenape, Girty and several other interpreters switched their allegiance to the British and their allied Native tribes. His defection and battlefield exploits turned him into an infamous villain for the Americans. Tales of his cruelty and scorn for the law grew as they were passed down for generations before becoming the basis of an 1846 novel which popularized him as a legendary outlaw. In some tales he hid out in a cave near where the Susquehanna River narrows in order to prey on river travellers. Gold he acquired in these raids is rumored to still be hidden in caves in the river cliffs.

The Susquehanna Trail auto route was planned in 1917 and paved as a 2-lane highway by the mid 1920s from Williamsport to York to meet the Lincoln Highway. A historical marker visible in the postcard image and park bench show this spot as a rest stop along the highway. The small face of Girty is visible about halfway up the cliff:

Girty's Face

GPS N 40° 28.515', W 76° 57.035'

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