Se­cret Pic­tographs

Serve Daily - - COMMUNITY - By Ed Helmick for Serve Daily

Well, the pic­tographs are not ex­actly a se­cret, es­pe­cially af­ter I write this ar­ti­cle, they are not well known, how­ever, and can be­come a fun day of ex­plor­ing with the fam­ily. You are a trusted vis­i­tor and please do not dam­age or de­face these or any other his­toric pre­his­toric art. It is not only dis­re­spect­ful, but it is against the law.

In 1881, a nar­row-gauge rail­road was planned and con­struc­tion started for a route be­tween Green River and Cleve­land, Utah. The rail­road grade was laid out and aban­doned be­fore tracks could be laid due to faulty en­gi­neer­ing. In sev­eral places, the road grade was too steep for the steam lo­co­mo­tives of the era. This des­ti­na­tion dis­cus­sion cov­ers that por­tion of the Old Rail­road Grade north of the Buck­horn Flats Road and un­der the cliffs of Cedar Moun­tain. Sev­eral rock art sites are along this road, such as the Silent Sentinel, Daisy Chain, 45⁰ Rock, and Rail­road Rock. This is an in­ter­est­ing area to ex­plore and the first half is ac­ces­si­ble by au­to­mo­bile.

From Price, go south on Utah High­way 10 un­til just be­fore you get to the town of Cas­tle Dale, you will find a turn off to your left (west) ac­cess­ing the San Rafael Swell des­ti­na­tion. The land­mark for the turnoff is an old and pho­to­genic cor­ral com­plex. This is the be­gin­ning of the Buck­horn Flat Road, zero your odome­ter as a ref­er­ence point. It is about 12.3 miles to a four-way in­ter­sec­tion, and the BLM Buck­horn In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter, which also pro­vides a vault toi­let.

Turn left or north­bound onto the Buck­horn Reser­voir Road and zero your odome­ter. Travel about 2.9 miles, where you will cross a cat­tle guard. Im­me­di­ately turn right and drive along the fence line. Zero your odome­ter. In less than 0.1 miles turn right at an­other cat­tle guard and shortly there­after is a gate. Leave the gate the way you found it, open or closed. You are now south­east bound onto a graded road. This road fol­lows the gen­eral route of the old rail­road grade. There are sev­eral side roads to camp­sites and stock ponds, but the main points of in­ter­est start at about 2.7 miles. A sum­mary of the rock art and early in­scrip­tions are listed be­low and a more de­tailed de­scrip­tion fol­lows. 2.7 miles Silent Sentinel Pic­to­graph and oth­ers 3.2 miles Daisy Chain Pic­to­graph and oth­ers 3.5 miles 45⁰ Rock Pic­tographs 4.2 miles Rail­road Rock

At about 2.7 miles the road crosses a small wash that comes down from a cove at the base of Cedar Moun­tain. You can drive up this wash about 0.2 miles, but four-wheel drive may be re­quired. The road stops at a log bar­rier and about 200 feet up a foot­path you will see two small rock art pan­els, in­clud­ing one known as the Silent Sentinel. This pic­to­graph is above a slightly an­gled rock ledge and the boul­der the art­work is on is darker in color and slants out­ward from the top. As you are walk­ing up to this rock look to your right for a very busy flat-faced boul­der with a very busy dis­play of Fremont cul­ture rock art. Re­turn to the old rail­road grade and at about 3.2 miles there are some boul­ders a short dis­tance off the road that are the next point of in­ter­est. Sev­eral boul­ders have in­scrip­tions of rail­road work­ers and one Fremont cul­ture pet­ro­glyph of three hu­mans hold­ing hands called the “The Daisy Chain.” Just a short dis­tance up the road, at about 3.5 miles is a road spur north for slightly over 0.1 miles to some boul­ders. One of these is known as the “45 De­gree Rock” and has pic­tographs on the north side of it. One of these looks like the Kokopelli im­age. Con­tin­u­ing east about 4.2 miles is an­other spur road that goes north for about 0.2 miles to a group of boul­ders. Here you will find “Rail­road Rock” with his­toric in­scrip­tions from the work­ers in 1881. There are also some In­dian pic­tographs on some of these boul­ders. You will come to a three-way road junc­tion at about 4.5 miles and ahead of you is a fence and live­stock pond. A right or south­bound turn here will con­nect you with the Green River Cut­off Road in about 1.5 miles and then turn right to con­nect with the Buck­horn Flat Road that you came in on. It looks like a mi­nor trail, how­ever, it has been suit­able for au­to­mo­bile traf­fic in the past. Keep in mind, that ero­sion from one storm can to­tally change the char­ac­ter of the roads in this area. If you are driv­ing an au­to­mo­bile your best choice might be to turn around and back­track the way you came in. The road straight ahead at this in­ter­sec­tion re­quires a high clear­ance 4X4 and is a moder­ately rough road that con­nects with the Green River Cut­off in ap­prox­i­mately 4.7 miles. A right turn on the Green River Cut­off will take you back to Utah 10 and a left turn will take you to US 6 about 17 miles north of I-70.

This trail is one of 42 in a trail guide ti­tled San Rafael Swell Off Road that is avail­able at the Art City Cof­fee Shop in Springville and Dick­er­son Au­to­mo­tive in Span­ish Fork, or you can con­tact the au­thor at [email protected]

Photo: Ed Helmick

Pic­tographs at mile 2.7 along the old rail­road grade road.

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