Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rock Art Canyon

Brantley talking with Linda
Brace yourself...this is going to be a long post cause it was such an awesome day.

When Linda and I met with the owner of one of the campgrounds, he told us about a little known tour in the area. Brantley Baird owns Rock Art Ranch in a remote area outside of Holbrook. On his ranch is one of the largest and finest stands of Anasazi petroglyphs in the world. He doesn't advertise except for the paper tri-fold flier that was at the campground. Brantley has been on the ranch since 1945 and even though he's in his 80's, it's still a working ranch.

Currently on the ranch there is a team of archeologists there from one of the universities doing research in the field. They are staying in the bunk houses on the ranch. They weren't there today but would be back on Monday to resume their work.

There is a huge barn that holds the museum artifacts, as well as a lot of farming memorabilia. He has several display cases filled with pots and pottery that he has found on the ranch. He said he'll just be driving along after a rain storm or windstorm and he'll see the bottom of the pot sticking out of the ground. He found his first pot in 1948 and here's a picture of his find.

After looking at all of the pottery, arrow heads, guns, jewelry, etc. we went outside to look at some of the out buildings. He has the last bunk house from the Hash Knife Cattle Company, which at one time had 60,000 cattle over a massive area of land, without any fences. Cowboys tended to this herd and when they brought the herd to the area where they would be sold (near the railroad), that is where there were a bunch of these bunk houses. The rest of the time, that they were out on the range, they got their food from the chuckwagon (he had one of those too) and lived and slept on the prairie. The
bunk house is dedicated to Brantley's wife's grandfather who was a cowboy with the company. Linda noticed when she read the notice here, that the family name is "Bryant", which is my mom's maiden name.
Last Hash Knife Bunkhouse
After looking around the farm, we headed out towards the canyon. Now, I should tell you about the location of this ranch. Talk about remote....we drove 20 miles on dirt roads before we got to the dirt lane where his ranch is. Desolate area ! There is no electricity at the has a windmill and solar panel for power. Washboard, dirt roads....if we thought the roads getting there were bad, we hadn't seen anything till we headed to the canyon. Brantley and his dog jumped in a 4 wheeler mule type vehicle and off we went, down a path out the back of the property. He was zipping along lickety split and we were trying to keep up without the tool boxes on the truck vibrating off. Holy Cow ! There was another group of folks there for the tour and as luck would have it, they were formerly from Pennsylvania. The one young lady just graduated from college, with a degree in Biology and is starting her masters degree this fall at East Stroudsburg University, in PA. Last night they camped out at the canyon and for the one woman, this was her second trip to the ranch.
Sweat Lodge

On the way to the canyon, we stopped at an old Indian building area. Saw a sweat lodge, early Indian dwelling and a mud house. When we stepped into the mud house, Brantley started talking about what Indian life might have been like. I looked over and there was this huge snake up near the ceiling. I asked him if that was a prop or a fake snake he had put there. He said no and told us how much he hates snakes. He, Linda and I made a hasty retreat out of the mud house. The snake was what he called a blow snake...harmless but huge anyway and creepy. The biology person in the group wanted to pick the snake up, etc. We didn't want to watch !

Jumped back in our vehicles and off we went to the canyon.. Morning started out pleasant but was steadily getting much warmer as the day went on. Pretty strong breeze so that helped to make it comfortable. After getting left in the dust (literally), Linda and I finally arrived at the canyon.  It was so spectacular ! The tent the girls had slept in was set up on the platform that overlooks the canyon. A great area, set up with picnic tables and seats.

The really cool thing about this canyon is that the only place that you can access the canyon is at this location. Otherwise, there are sheer cliffs the whole length of the canyon. That is why there is such a large number of petroglyphs in this was the only area where the Indians could get into the canyon. And there are hundreds of them!
"Birthing" Petroglyph
What a climb down the rocks but a real killer coming up out. Once you're down in the canyon and walking around, it feels like you've gone into some prehistoric time warp. We sat along the stream, watching the girls wade in the water and I kept feeling like a brontosaurus would come around the corner at any minute.

One we got to the canyon, Brantley left us to wander around and stay as long as we wanted. He gave us a key to the gate and left us to explore on our own.

 The whole experience was really neat. It's amazing to see ancient artifacts and wonder about the people who used them, what their life was like and see how they lived. For anyone coming to the Holbrook area, I would strongly urge you to check out Rock Art Canyon and meet Brantley !



Movable Book Lady said...

Neat post! I once owned land near St. Johns AZ that had rock art and petroglyphs on it. BTW Chuck is back in Eagar after evacuation for the Wallow fire.

Jim and Bobbie said...

Good job, Linda. What a great blog post. Very interesting.

Debbie E said...

Wow! What an adventure. Thanks for sharing some amazing details. Debbie and Carole

Debbie E said...

Wow! What an adventure. Thanks for sharing the amazing details. That snake is scary..... Debbie and Carole