Friday, September 19, 2014
THE PREHISTORIC ART OF UTAH’S NINE MILE CANYON
…from the Pre- to Recent History tour
of Central Nevada and Utah
It’s called the largest art gallery in the world. Set in a deep and seemingly timeless sandstone canyon named by John Wesley Powell, it’d be hard to argue that the description is anything but accurate.
Nine Mile Canyon is actually a 70-mile drive on newly paved roads beneath the Books Cliffs beginning in contemporary pastureland and concluding in a prehistoric time warp preserved by ages of arid elements. Simply so we could drive through?
Off US 6 east of Wellington Utah, ample signage on Soldier Creek Road tells us we’re headed in the right direction on the Nine Mile Canyon Historic Byway.
Farmsteads with buildings hewn from both rock and wood give the impression that this place is old.
As do rusted farm implements and trucks.
But just wait.
37-plus miles up the road bear right at the junction, travel east another eight to the sign for the Great Hunt. A well-graded path leads you to a rail fenced viewing area.
Individual samples of the ancient artists are clustered into the scene. A big horn sheep here…
A buffalo there…
Hiking back the soluble nature of the area sandstone is on display.
Scattered along the bluff base are more works. A counting grid, perhaps?
Some with the addition of color.
Here, an ancient depicted a buffalo carrying a calf.
Overhead, harder, slightly more sense layers sit atop spires of more easily eroded stuff.
Traveling back to the junction the Daddy Canyon sign invites more discovery.
An action scene?
Some perspective on the size of one smaller example.
Work nearly washed away as its location is inundated during heavy rains.
It is easy to spend hours in this special place. Heck, those who offered this work spent 8,000 years here.
The Nine Mile Canyon is a side trip well worth taking. It is a lesser-frequented passage into a past that predates written history. It, like yesterday’s tour of the atomic test site, http://thechurchoftheopenroad.blogspot.com/2014/09/impressions-of-project-faultless.html, demands our attention and introspection – perhaps affording a different, happier, conclusion.
Castle Country Regional Information Center: 1-800-817-9949
Nine Mile Canyon Coalition: www.ninemilecanyoncoalition.org
Note: In its quest to exploit long-buried energy resources, Utah has moved head-first into hydraulic fracturing methods in order to release otherwise unobtainable oil from the earth’s crust. Examples of this practice are found on the Backcountry Byway heading out of the canyon toward Myton. The practice is currently spreading deeper into the canyons with nicely paved roads affording access east of the junction and up Cottonwood Creek past the site of the Great Hunt. One hopes the oil giants will exercise discretion in the area.
Church of the Open Road Press