Our Daily Sykes #9 – Utah: Buckhorn Draw Pictograph Panel

We found the location of Sykes first pictograph included below  with a little browsing on Google Earth.  At some point in our highly speculative “Sykes Kodachrome Period” – ca. 1945-53 – Horace Sykes visited this central Utah panel, an example of what the experts call a Barrier Canyon Style of rock art.  The name for this site is Buckhorn Draw.  It is a tributary to the San Rafael River if you wish to go exploring for it.  It will not take long.  We have called the top panel “How the West Was Won” – an obvious, we hope, reference to the graffiti that marks the easier to reach lower parts of the rock art.  Take some time to read the contributions.  Some are dated and proudly note the homes of the scribblers.   I found on line another rendering of this Sykes panel, which is included below it.  There much of the defacing has been retouched in a 1996 effort at restoration – but not all of it.  The remaining pattern may be in same group.  Can’t say for I’ve not found it as of yet.  With its rock face it is certainly a joy forever, and perhaps it is also harder to reach.   [Click twice – sometimes – to Enlarge]

"How the West Was Won" - our name for this rock art in Utah's Buckhorn Draw.
"How the West Was Won" - our name for this rock art in Utah's Buckhorn Draw.
Another - and later - view of it found on the web.  This was snapped sometime after the 1996 restoration that removed much of the graffiti.
Another - and later - view of it found on the web. This was snapped sometime after the 1996 restoration that removed much of the graffiti. You may wish to read John Ullman's comments on this practice of retouching history.
Another Sykes and perhaps from the same Buckhorn Draw panorama.
Another Sykes and perhaps from the same Buckhorn Draw panorama. (See Brian's attached comment for the correct location of the art directly above. It is near MOAB, Utah. Brian also includes two other recording of it that show how much it has been vandalized since Horace Sykes took his shot of it ca. 1950.)

6 thoughts on “Our Daily Sykes #9 – Utah: Buckhorn Draw Pictograph Panel”

  1. If you are interested in the rock writings, there is an interesting, if controversial book that decodes their meaning. It is “The Rocks Begin to Speak” by Lavan Martineau.

    http://www.amazon.com/Rocks-Begin-Speak-Lavan-Martineau/dp/0916122301

    He learned Indian sign language as a boy, bunked with cryptologists during the Koren war, and applied cryptology to the rock writings using his knowledge of sign language and the few rock writings that depicted post Columbian events, like a train wreck.

    I’ve spent some time around Capitol Reef, but never got up to the Buckhorn Draw. Maybe next time. I’ve seen some of Martineau’s interpretations born out in my own experience.

    I have mixed emotions about the “restoration” of the pictographs. There was a tradition of noting one’s passage on the rocks that dates back to the Spaniards’ “Pasa por aqui’s”, some of which are dated in the late 1500’s. I’m sure no one would suggest erasing them. The more recent ones seem insensitive, but history is what it is.

  2. Dear John
    Do you have a copy and if so may I drop around and page through it with you for interpretation and instruction?
    You observations about “erasing” are for Ponder and her partner Consideration. Much of contemporary urban graffiti is an improvement on that on which it is marked. Some not. May we have a panel of arbiters to decide what measures up and what not both in the city and in the canyon? Perhaps we should require some kind of degree to be a member of such a panel. There might be honorariums attached. Perhaps a sales tax on spray paint and indelibles of any sort. It would, for instance, be a good way to give some support to those who spent a good deal of time in college thoroughly enjoying their study of art history but to no material benefit. Perhaps the markings might be graded both on originality and allusion to others signs of culture. Like pop art.
    Paul

  3. Brain
    Horace was active with his Kodachrome in the 40s and early 50s. If you can name a “body” that would like a full resolution copy of this for their documenting I could easily put it on a disk and send it (and a few others) to them.
    Curiously, I visited MOAB and surrounds on Google Earth recently. I was about 10 when the family visited Bryce and Zion on a long trip. I had not inkling of how continuously spectacular is the state of UTAH. I think many of Sykes southwest slides are from there. I’ll keep putting them until I run out or they do.
    Paul

  4. You might check with Arches National Park, they might be interested in them for their records. If you have more I wouldn’t mind seeing them either, if you ever get around to posting them!

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