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As It Was: Ancient People Leave Their Mark on Greaser Canyon Boulders

Ancient people etched designs thousands of years ago on southwest-facing basalt boulders some five miles east of Adel, Ore., in the high plateau between Klamath Falls and Lakeview.

The designs, known as the Greaser Petroglyphs, are on Bureau of Land Management open rangeland  in Lake County.

It’s unknown who carved them, but indigenous people have lived in this part of Oregon as long ago as 10,000 to 12,000 years.  The ancient people camped and hunted near lakes which at that time covered much of the present-day desert area. 

There is wide speculation about the meaning of the petroglyphs, such as religious symbols, ownership of territory, map directions, and personal stories.

When the first settlers headed West, the Northern Paiute tribe was living in the Greaser Canyon.  Vandals have at least once damaged the petroglyphs, but BLM archeologists repaired some of the damage.  It is prohibited by federal law to deface them.

The National Park Service added the site to its National Register of Historic Places in 1974.


Sources: "Greaser Petroglyph Site: Wikis." The Full Wiki, 16 Nov. 2009, www.thefullwiki.org/Greaser_Petroglyph_Site; Cryer, AB. "Greaser Petroglyph Cite Explained." Everything Explained.Today, 2009-2018, http://everything.explained.today/Greaser_Petroglyph_Site/ Accessed 21 May 2019.

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.