I will skip the long version, suffice it to say that besides the strong curriculum I was also provided with a strong extra curricular education, everything was going swimmingly until they found the water pipe in the closet, a cacophony of tubes and pipes wound in every direction that would make the most jaded chemist peal with envy. Eighth grade, my first suspension. Dad must have been awful proud.
Anyway, as I said, skipping the sordid details we really did get a great education up there. Medium format photography and darkroom work, rock climbing, soccer, all the normal school stuff. Desert Sun had a great biology department. The teachers were hands on and we did a lot of hiking as well as exploring back roads so remote that they almost seem a fantasy to me now.
One thing I will always remember is showing up at a private ranch somewhere near Anza. Our professor knew the rancher, an older man who was kind enough to allow us admittance. We were led to a rocky cleft where after passing over a coiled rattler we found ourselves in some high caves on the property. These caves had a pictograph that we were told was the earliest North American pictograph ever found of a man on a horse. It is now sharply incised in my memory.
The year was 1971, the cave had been sealed to the public for, by my count, fifty nine long years. The newest graffiti in the camp was Irma, 1912, if my memory still serves. Have to thank Professor Beauchamp for his pull in getting us near these drawings, some forty plus years later.
|Ayer's Rock, Inyo County|
|Mescalero Apache petroglyph, Hueco Tanks|
First I guess we should talk about the horse. The modern horse, Equus Caballus is the last surviving member of a once broad family whose cousins include tapirs and rhinos. The horse belongs to an order known as Perissodactyla, or "odd-toed ungulates", which all share hooved feet and an odd number of toes on each foot, as well as mobile upper lips and a similar tooth structure. The genus is said to have originated in North America about 4 million years ago and then spread to Eurasia across the Bering Strait 2 to 3 million years ago. There were then various back and cross migrations before the final extinction of the North American horse.
He or she died out between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene, but by then Equus had spread across Europe and Asia. They were then reintroduced to our continent during the sixteenth century by Spaniards. So I guess we should assume that all of the pictographs and petroglyphs extant are of the modern era. The oldest petroglyphs on the continent at a site in Nevada were recently found to be over 10,000 years old, Le Cheval was long gone by then.
Horse and rider pictographs and petroglyphs dot the entire continent. Here is a rather rough and faded pictograph of a horse and rider from Washington County, Arkansas.
|Piedres Grandes - Anza Borrego|
Still I can't find my single horse and rider. Although I have one decent lead. Read a couple things about the Cary Ranch near Anza that is said to contain two horse and rider glyphs. They even have a website that I need to peruse that unfortunately has no graphics and few pathways that will help me in my immediate quest. But the Cary Ranch just might be my spread. It is possible that this is the very same pictograph that I was once told was the earliest on the continent. Could there be any veracity to that old claim? Of course it is entirely possible that the horse and rider I saw lies forgotten on some other ranch...
I am interested in chasing this horse and rider down. Would appreciate any help you can provide.
From the late 1860s on, Anza was largely settled by families seeking to build ranches under the Homestead Act. Of the homesteads in the area, one, the Cary Ranch on Cary Road (south of Anza, east of the Tripp Flatts Ranger Station) still exists and is still owned and occupied by family members of the original settlers. The ranch is now occupied by the Hopkins family. The Hopkins are direct descendants of the Cary family. Although the Cary Ranch used to encompass hundreds of acres of land, most has been sold off, and only a 20-acre (81,000 m2) parcel and several original buildings exist.
They even run the occasional tour. This mystery is definitely solvable. Let's find that horse and rider.
|Nine Mile Canyon, Utah|
Reena Deutsch was gracious enough to contact me and send along these two pictures. Read her note to me in the comments section.
Yup. Mysteries don't stick around forever these days. Now if I could just get some pics of the old graffiti...
|Photos courtesy of Reena Deutsch|