In Search of Warren’s Magic Rocks

It was Sunday morning, Mother’s Day, and I went out to find Warren’s rocks. Rocks are big and old, and the way Warren described them, they were so big that just because he used to swim among them naked 85 years ago, didn’t mean I couldn’t swim among them naked in 2014.

I had no intention of swimming among them naked. Or fully clothed.

I just wanted a picture. I just figured I could find them. I just figured they had to be there still. People destroy nature, they mess with the past, but they don’t go into the Patapsco River and haul away rocks the size of Pluto.


Warren had given me directions. He mentioned something about west of this and east of that and upstream from something or another. He might as well have recited a Shakespearean soliloquy to me, because when it comes to upstream and downstream and east and west and stuff like that, I have no idea what people are talking about. But nonetheless with my modern camera and its big long lens hanging around my neck, and wearing a pair of flimsy sneakers, and carrying my phone, which has a compass app, I went looking for Warren’s rocks.

I just headed off down the railroad tracks, where by the way, there are literally hundreds of tracked vehicles parked for miles and miles, preparing for what appears to be an imminent invasion of Sykesville, but I’ll get to that later. Eventually, amazingly, I was able to come down through a hole in the woods with my feet soaked and my camera bouncing, and balancing myself on flimsy rocks and hanging from skinny branches, I arrived at this.


It was all very shaky. The rocks were wobbly and I had to hold the camera and try to take pictures, and I had this fear of slipping and getting my leg caught under some big rock and trying to call home and Andrea never answering like usual, till my battery died, and I had to chew off my leg to rescue myself, but it didn’t come to that.

The lens was too big for the distance. I’m not the best photographer, or all that familiar with my camera, but I started pointing and snapping pictures, and I couldn’t help thinking, “Yeah, man, this is where Warren and the other kids, black and white, used to splash around naked in 1928. I should take off my clothes.” No actually what I thought was, “I found them. I found Warren’s magic rocks.”


So I took some pictures of the rocks.


They’d probably been there long before anybody ever heard of Sykesville, or people for that matter. Lord knows where they came from. Warren says they were magic.


So I showed Andrea my pictures of the rocks and she said, “Didn’t you read the story?”


I said, “Of course I read the story, why?”

And she said, “Because your rocks are on the wrong side of the river.”

No one had ever said that to me before. And I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to hear it. This is the view upriver toward Sykesville. Could Warren’s rocks be up there somewhere?


I’ll show the pictures to Warren. If he says my rocks are on the wrong side of the river, I’ll go down and try again. One way or another, I’m finding those magic rocks.

Oh, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re probably going about things backward and need to go read Warren’s story about Sykesville’s improbable enigma.

2 Comments on this post.

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  • Judy Estes
    13 May 2014 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    “The unity of the Master’s humanity”. This says it all. I only wish I could have been a part of this experience. After reading your brief article about these river rocks, I can’t wait to read your book. Thank you for the opportunity to learn more about the community I live in and the opportunity to be able to read the finished product.

  • The Rocks
    23 May 2014 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    […] It flooded the town on several occasions. It helped extinguish a couple deadly fires. It served as the town sewer. But in the 1920s and 1930s when Warren Dorsey was a boy, the Patapsco River, as it flowed by Sykesville, brought some sort of strange magic. For pictures of the rocks and more information, click here. […]

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