Despite every intention to get up early today, it wasn’t until eight-ish before we surfaced. Looking outside and seeing no clouds what so ever, made us re-think our plans. Instead of going into Arches NP again, we decided to go to Sego Canyon to find the petroglyph and pictograph rock art we had heard about. The trip was only going to be about 45 minutes so after making sandwiches, we loaded up our camera gear into the car, hooked up the electric ice-chest, filled it with bottles with water and we set off.
After we got off the main road into Thomson Springs we headed to the Canyon, only to miss it completely! At least that was the conclusion we reached after driving a dirt road for about 45 minutes with no petroglyphs anywhere to be seen.
We did run into a ghost town, the old town of Sego. Never a large town, there were only a few buildings left, the largest was no more than a skeleton, the others could be located only by their sandstone foundations.
Also along the dirt were ruins of old bridges, quite a number of them. Based on the dry creek beds they crossed, we concluded that these creeks are subject to some flash flooding as the erosion and depth of the creek beds were quite impressive. The folk who used to live there obviously built these old bridges to make sure they could get into (or out of) the town.
The old town of Sego was a coal mining town which never had a population more than about 500. It went through some trying times, the mine got sold twice before it ended up being bought out by the miners themselves. Eventually, they lost it all when coal-powered locomotives got replaced by diesel engined versions, diminishing the need for coal.
Back to the pictograms
Petroglyphs is the word used for art that is chipped or scratched into the rock, while pictograms are painted on the rock. After shooting the ghost town, we decided to head back to see where we went wrong in the original search for the petroglyphs.
When we finally found them, it was like “duh, how could we have missed them?” They were right there in front of us, clearly visible from the road. There was even a parking lot which we HAD seen, but because the sign said “no camping, day use only”, we never stopped, thinking this was just a picnic area.
The pictographs (paintings) were amazing! Spread across multiple panels of sandstone rock (on both sides of the road), we spotted about 8 different clusters of multiple drawings. We had heard they were impressive, but, did not expect what we saw. One of the panels was life-size! No kidding, the panel depicted a group of “people” with each of the individual figures being about 6 feet tall. Quite amazing.
What was really disturbing however, was to see the vandalism. There was graffiti and writings and someone had even used the figures for target practice, based on the bullet holes that are visible. What is wrong with people? Some of these picograms are 3000 years old and have withstood the erosion of wind and rain, then some idiots destroy things in seconds.
Anyhow, these old drawings are more than intriguing. Apart from marveling at the age and wondering about the people that lived in these barren lands, the designs are quite amazing if not puzzling. Many of the “people” are depicted with antenna-like things coming out of their heads, others have huge round, bulging eyes and none of them appear to have arms. Looking at them, it is quite clear why people have wondered about ancient visitations from aliens.
Take a look at a close-up of one of these panels. Does that not look like how aliens are depicted by Hollywood?
Kinda strange don’t you think? It leaves you with a somewhat “creepy” feeling when you stand there looking at these face-less beings that seem to state down upon you.
Turns out the paintings are from, at least, four different cultures who lived in this region:
- The Ute tribe dating from A.D. 1300.
- The Fremont culture which thrived from A.D. 600 to 1250
- The Barrier Canyon period from around 2000 B.C., and
- There is also rock art from the Archaic period dating from 7000 B.C.
This makes some of these painting a massive 9000 years old!