Monday, May 29, 2017

Dry Fork Canyon (5/23/2017)

After spending the morning exploring Fantasy Canyon, I grabbed a quick lunch and headed for Dry Fork Canyon, some 50+ miles in the opposite direction.  This canyon is noted for its spectacular cliffs and rock formations, but has some unique features as well.  On one of the cliffs is a memorial first created in 1898, shortly after the USS Maine was blown up in Havana Harbor starting the Spanish-American War.  The large American flag and the words "Remember The Maine" were meant to honor the American lives lost, but I'm not sure anyone knows who actually painted the original.  One legend is that a politician paid $50 to a poor sailor to do the job.  Repainted several times since, it was expanded to include Pearl Harbor in 1944.  Names of those renewing the paint job have been added along the way.

The other interesting feature of the canyon is the rather large number of petroglyphs and pictographs left by the ancient Fremont Culture and by the more modern Ute tribe.  Various styles and sizes reflect the development of the medium over time, as well as historical changes.  Some of the images are gory, such as a warrior holding a severed head with blood and tears streaming down.  One figure seems to have facial hair and a sword nearby, possibly a Spanish soldier.  That would mean a much more recent creation, since the Spanish first arrived here in the 1500s.  The human-like images are generally 5-6 feet tall, but one is said to be 9 feet tall.

Some of the figures are quite primitive, while others are more elaborate.  A few resemble current cartoon-style characters. 

 To access the images, it's quite a climb up the rocks and debris accumulated at the base of the cliffs, followed by walking and climbing over boulders for the entire distance.  In total, the several trails are more than two miles long and one trail is more than 150 feet above the canyon floor.

The most impressive site, known as the Three Kings Panel, cannot be seen close up as it is quite high on a steep formation.  Obviously the Indians were able to climb up to do the work, and I'm sure that archeologists have gotten up there to study it.  However, the public is required to observe from the ground.  Long lenses and binoculars help locate the images.  In the first photo, you'll see the overall site, with the art about two-thirds the way up the cliff.  While the images can barely be seen, remember they are 6-9 feet tall.  The second photo is a close-up taken with a longer lens.  I don't know why it's called "Three Kings", since there are at least five human-like figures in the scene.  One figure could almost be considered that of an alien being, not that unusual in such rock art.

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