Sunday, June 3, 2012

Family History - Piecing the Puzzles of Idaho Indian Rock Art

With my inner child calling me again, I've gone back to the work digitizing photographs and transcribing letters from the earliest years of my memory. In that process I posted on Facebook the following photo for  Mother's Day:

Easter Sunday, April 2, 1961. Birch Creek near Salmon, Idaho 
By the size of my brother and me, it was easy to place this in about 1961. It was most likely Idaho from when we lived in Rexburg, but as to the location and date, I was otherwise clueless. Then I found the letter from my Mom to her Mother-in-law. My Grandma saved every letter she ever received. Bless her!
Thursday, April 6, 1961 . . . . We had a very happy Easter. We thought you might like to see the pictures we took. . . . After lunch, we stacked the dishes in the sink and took off. We went about half way to Salmon to see some Indian writings on the cliffs. We hiked around for awhile and really enjoyed it. Coming back, we saw seven antelope. We stopped to watch them and they ran across the road just about ten feet in front of the car. Naturally we’d used up all our film, but it was really a thrill to see them anyway.
So, I have a date, but only a proximate location for these Indian pictographs. I did an extensive Google Images search in all variations of Idaho Indian rock writings/pictographs/petroglyphs and haven't come up with any matches. There are certainly some similar ones in the area, though. And it could be that these ancient drawings may not have survived the fifty years since the photos were taken. The fact that my Mom and two little kids could easily access them indicates that anyone could have, including vandals who may disrespect ancient graffiti as they engage in their own.

I called my dad and he couldn't remember, but I think when I show him these pictures it may jog his memory and something may even come to him in the meantime. But it is nice to get the date and a description of the outing from the contemporaneous letter.

Here's one more photo in case anyone out there can help identify this location:

Indian Art and Me. Easter, 1961
I don't know why this is so important to identify the place. Maybe it helps me find that little boy.

October 4, 2012

We have a match! Thank you Anonymous below for identifying the location of the pictographs. I did a Google search and found the same panel from the first picture above. One more miracle of the internet!

I only add that as the land below is identified as private land, please respect and check with the land owner if you wish access to the site.


  1. Hello, I can tell you where the pictorgraphs are located which is in your photographs. They are the writing located at Birch Creek, the land is in private ownership now and fenced off. if you drive from Mud Lake to Salmon, it is the cliffs to the right of the highway as you enter the valley towards Salmons. there is a sign telling of prehistoric man, but I'd rather think it was from the early Indians.
    Hope this help to recollect your memory.

    1. Thank you so much! I added an update above that acknowledges and confirms your information.

    2. To clarify what I think the comment says above about "prehistoric man" vs. "Indians" the website linked above indicates that that my buddies at BLM have posted interpretive signs indicating that with limited dating, the pictures could be anywhere from 4,000 to 200 years old.

  2. Hello again, I have read your up date and was curious, since you mentioned you have some friends who work with BLM, I understand that back in the 60's there was an interpretation from the writing, giving warning to other Indians not to enter the Lemhi Valley, can you inquire whether if they still have that interpretation?
    also, your photo's show the pictographs before it was damaged, is there a way you can enlarge the image to see the details of the pictographs, I would really like to see the whole thing before it was damaged or chipped away, I don't know if you have visited the site since your childhood, but a lot of the pictograph have been tried to be removed by vandals and damaged. Thank you if you can.

    1. Sorry that I haven't figured out a way or got to this yet. I still have the originals so maybe I'll check on some professional scanning or maybe BLM contacts with archaeological expertise.


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