We recently returned to Nevada to do some mine exploring. We found a couple of new sites and made some discoveries at some old favorites. This was a new discovery near the “Engagement” Mine. I haven’t come across any of the history on this place but it is clear that it dates back to the late 1880s. I suspect it was a small silver prospect.
I had looked for this arrastra some time ago but instead found another mining camp. That ended up being a good trip even without finding my elusive target. Still, it wasn’t an arrastra.
So, some time passed (actually, a few years) and it sort of dropped off my radar, as things do. I had other places to go and easier places to find. Of course, I didn’t forget. The ones that get away are always the hardest to forget, aren’t they?
A few weekends ago, I went out to the Piedras Grandes pictograph site. Piedras Grandes means “Large stones” and these granite boulders out in the southern part of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park certainly are that. The site is inside of the Piedras Grandes Cultural Preserve and it is a short walk from a parking area to the pictographs in the rock shelter.
Overlooking the rocky wash of the Carrizo Gorge, down in Anza Borrego State Park, sits a small rock shelter with an unique set of fascinating pictographs hidden inside.
The mostly black drawings are of anthropomorphs (human-like figures), suns, stars, nets and other abstract designs. Some of the pictographs are amazing fresh after all these years. (They are relatively protected from the weather). The pictographs are classified as the La Rumorosa style, which is more common to the south into Baja California and they are associated here with the Kumeyaay people. It is thought these designs were put here sometime in the last 1,500 to 2,000 years.
While out on a trip with Roger Mitchell, we stopped to visit a little boulder cave out in the Mojave Desert. The cave is only a few feet long, but in the center is a large, flat granite boulder. Its surface is covered with cupules and edges polished smooth by touch of many hands over a long period of time. It is amazing to think of how many hands must have touched this rock to get it this smooth.
Back in 1862, Owens Valley was not quite as peaceful as it is today. White settlers were just moving in and starting up ranches. Prospectors were combing the hills in search of that elusive next big strike. The Paiute, Shoshone and Kawaiisu people who lived here didn’t appreciate being forced off their lands and losing access to water and springs because of cattle. They led raids and ambushes against the newcomers to try and force them out. People were being murdered on both sides. The situation escalated and turned into what was later called the Paiute War.