Native American relics -- including spears and arrowheads -- often lie in areas where a tribe once lived. In such regions, after a heavy rain, fields and creeks alike may yield arrowheads. The counties of Northumberland, Dauphin and Schuylkill are some of Pennsylvania's prime hunting grounds for creek-bed arrowheads.
Choosing a Creek
Creeks often run through or over private property. Before searching for arrowheads, you need permission to cross or search any private land. Your chances of finding arrowheads are best in the upper portions of a creek -- typically near the creek's headwaters, where the ground erodes rapidly. The creek washes and deposits artifacts, rocks and other debris in these areas, which often feature gravel and sand bars. In the lower parts of a creek, mud or fine sediments often hide artifacts.
You can walk along the low-lying sandbanks and beaches beside the creek or along the bed of the creek itself, but you are more likely to see an arrowhead on an exposed gravel or sand bank than under running water. Also, methodically walking to and fro across a small area of the creek gives you a better chance of finding an artifact than a long walk in a straight line. Arrowheads often have a notably different color to the surrounding sand or gravel. In Pennsylvania, arrowheads were made from various materials including flint, quartz and jasper, in colors such as red, white, green, black and brown.
The best time for finding artifacts around a creek bed is after heavy rain. This is also when the creek is at its fullest, and the surrounding rocks and gravel will be wet and slippery. Safety recommendations include wearing sturdy, non-slip footwear when walking in or by any creek, and carrying a cellphone for emergency use. Creek walking near nightfall, or in an area where the current is strong or swift, is inadvisable. Creek walking is safer with a group than on your own.
Pennsylvania was home to different Native American peoples before and after European immigration, with the Shawnee and Ohio Valley tribes inhabiting much of central and southern Pennsylvania. The Erie tribe lived in the northwestern corner of the modern state, and the Iroquois inhabited a narrow strip of territory across the northern edge of Pennsylvania. The Delaware tribes lived along the state's eastern edge, with Munsee people present in the northeast and the Lenape living in the southeast. The Susquehannock tribe inhabited a pocket of southeastern Pennsylvania.