- Part I comprises part of Wednesday and part of Saturday covering El Malpais National Monument. This breaks the timeline, but puts all of El Malpais in one section.
- Part II covers the rest of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning in the Apache and Gila National Forests.
- Part III covers El Morro National Monument from Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon.
- This final section is primarily a photo gallery of the inscriptions of El Morro National Monument.
IV. El Morro Inscription Photo Gallery
Sunday, May 24, 2015
The Inscription Trail begins behind the Visitor Center and leads to Inscription Pool, then along the base of the bluff. This also leads to the Headland Trail that winds up to the top where there are ancient pueblo ruins. If you have the time I recommend taking the 2 mile loop to the top, not only for the history, but also for the amazing views.
"Explorers and travelers have known of the pool by the great rock for centuries. A valuable water source and resting place, many who passed by inscribed their names and messages in the rock next to petroglyphs left by ancient Puebloans. The ruins of a large pueblo located on top of El Morro were vacated by the time the Spaniards arrived in the late 1500s, and its inhabitants may have moved to the nearby pueblos in Zuni and Acoma. As the American West grew in population, El Morro became a break along the trail for those passing through and a destination for sightseers. As the popularity of the area increased, so did the tradition of carving inscriptions on the rock. To preserve the historical importance of the area and initiate preservation efforts on the old inscriptions, El Morro was established as a national monument by a presidential proclamation on December 8, 1906."
-- From the El Morro NM website.
For additional information I have added some suggested links at the end of this post.
In the early part of the 20th Century, park rangers darkened some of the inscriptions with soft pencils to "preserve" them and allow them to more easily be read. This discredited practice has long since been abandoned, but the graphite from their efforts is still all too visible. Inscriptions that were left alone may be more difficult to make out, but don't leave one with the uncomfortable feeling of defacement. If you are interested in surveying and preservation, check out the Archaeology Southwest link below.
This is just a small sample of the inscriptions and engravings. I will attempt to present them in chronological order. There are more complete descriptions on some of the photos; click on them to enlarge.
The earliest marks on the rock are from ancient puebloans. These are in the form of petroglyphs pecked into the facia of the rock, some more deeply than others. These may be as much as 2000 years old. Made by people believed to be the ancestors of the Zuni. I don't know the chronology of these three.
|Looks like a lizard in the upper portion.|
|Some critters pecked into the rock. Note also the human figure at the bottom right.|
|A snake and human hands.|
Spanish Explorers and Conquistadors
The first European inscription carved at El Morro was that of Governor Don Juan de Oñate in 1605, 15 years before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. He was a Spanish Conquistador, explorer, and brutal colonial governor of the Santa Fe de Nuevo México province in the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
|Don Juan de Oñate, 1605. An example of "preservation" by pencil tracing.|
|Don Diego de Vargas, 1692|
|Don Francisco Manuel de Silva, Governor of New Mexico, 1692|
|Ramón García Jurado, 1709|
|Don Martin de Elizacochea, Bishop of Durango, 1737|
|Pedro Romero, 1751|
Surveyors, Railroad men and later visitors
As the west came under the jurisdiction of the United States, inscriptions are from explorers and surveyors of the 19th Century.
|Simpson and Kern, 1849|
|Many inscriptions found at the northern point of the rock|
|Watkins, Union Pacific Railroad, 1868|
|Williams and Mann 1876|
|Elaborate arched border for Redolfo near the northern point, date unknown (at least by me.)|
If you'd like to learn more about the inscriptions, here are a few links I found. The 1941 park brochure was especially interesting.
Thank you for reading my blog and looking at my photos. I hope you found it worthwhile.