Anza Borrego and Southern Deserts

Palen Tank Petroglyphs

I recently followed an ancient Native American trail out to a water tank and petroglyph site. What got my attention to this site was the report of historical inscriptions and the fact that it is way off of other Native American trails I knew about.

The petroglyphs themselves are unusual in that they are not all abstract geometric forms; some figures have bent arms and legs. This suggests they were made in the late historic period. There is also a horseback rider with what looks like a cowboy hat which further suggests historic contact.

One of the historical inscriptions on the walls of the rock tank is of an O. P. Callaway (also spelled Calloway) who was a prominent local land surveyor and pioneer.

Interestingly, not too long after he carved his name in the rock here, he had a spot of trouble with the Chemehuevi who stabbed him to death after an altercation.

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About Guy Starbuck

Exploring the American West.
  • Nevada
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