Wednesday, January 7, 2015

More History in the Ryan Ranch Area - Joshua Tree National Park

One of the great things about the southwest (and many other areas) are the layers of history left behind by different cultures. This area is no different. In late 2013, I did a post about Ryan's Ranch (click the link for a refresher). This post primarily relates to the earlier presence of American Indians who lived in the same area. Although the old adobe is an awesome thing for tourists who don't mind hiking a little bit, none of the other things in this post are advertised, or discussed by park officals.  

The first 13 photos relate to the Ryan Ranch period of the area. Here is what's left of the adobe ranch house. In a moment of temporary insanity, I included a photo with me in it. The photos look different from each other, because they are from a few different visits to the area.

I would LOVE to look out at that view every day

Or this one, in another direction

Old cone style beer can (made of steel)

Back in the day, if your trash didn't burn, you buried it, or just piled it up

A rock circle, plus a date, plus a name, equals grave site #1. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any information relating to who is in these graves. 

This spot would be easy to miss because the writing has faded so much in the last 120+ years.

A little help from DStretch makes it all visible.  James-1893.

Number 2 doesn't have any type of marker.

Number 3

A better look at #3

Number 4

A better look at #4

Several bedrock mortars

A grinding surface and maybe a few cupules

A couple more

My granddaughter Tay doing her thing (look closely)

A nice rock shelter with a couple of mortars and a few cupules

A large mortar in the same shelter

Nice to find a petroglyph. This one might be an atlatl (predecessor to the bow and arrow)

A deep mortero (or mortar). There are also a few couples on the far left of the rock and a couple more in the lower right of the photo.

 A better view of the cupules. If you remember, cupules are considered by many to be one of the oldest forms of rock art.

Another mortar

And another...

A great piece of bedrock with large mortars and several cupules

A mortar in another rock shelter

I almost missed this old and almost totally faded pictograph!

Not much better even after being enhanced. I was still very happy to find it

A different view of an earlier photo. Mortar and cupules

Another rock shelter with a rock circle in it. 

A faded grid like petroglyph



  1. Next time I venture into the desert, I'll be looking for mortars thanks to you.
    Amazing location. I could handle that view.

  2. Happy New Year Pat!

    I'm going to send this post to my husband. He LOVES the desert and will appreciate your photography. What's a "D Stretch"? Some kind of photoshop implement?

  3. such neat finds! the graves and boulder markers are just amazing.

  4. Such awesome captures of such an incredible place, Pat!! I am SO glad you share them with us!! Always look forward to your posts!! Hope your new year is off to a great start!! Enjoy!!

  5. Alex J. Cavanaugh - I'm always looking for this stuff. I agree about the view. It's one of my favorite spots.

    California Girl - Thanks Happy New Year to you also. DStretch is an "add-on" to a program developed for the Mars Rover photos. The DStretch part of it was developed specifically for pictographs. I'm not very good at using it yet.

    TexWisGirl - Thanks! I wish I knew who was in the graves.

    Sylvia K - Thanks Sylvia! It is always my pleasure. Happy New Year!

    1. I have read (somewhere) that the graves were ranch hands that had died over the years

  6. Did you know those graves were there or did you happen upon them? That's a fantastic find. And so humble. Just James (no last name).

  7. Gorgeous photos, Pat... I read somewhere recently that Joshua Tree National Park is one of the 'must see' National Parks in our country in WINTER.... I'd love to visit there sometime. You could be a great tour guide.


  8. I'd definitely love to see Joshua Tree someday. Beautiful shots!

    Looking at those graves, a strange thought comes to mind. Back in the late 19th century, to borrow a phrase, someone was asking, "now why doesn't he write?"

  9. I love those desert photos--yes, that is a view I could look at every day!

  10. That is such an amazing area and thanks for taking us along!

  11. I am so ready to head out in the RV for a desert adventure. Can I tag along with you? The photos are fascinating . You have such a keen eye for finding these treasures. Thanks for sharing.

  12. That's a pretty special place, and I'd like to thank you for sharing it with us!

  13. How lucky are you that your granddaughter has your 'exploring' genes Pat :) Exciting finds once more, whenever I read your posts my imagination goes into overdrive trying to picture people actually using the mortars and capules.

  14. Happy New Year to you and yours, Patrick! I see you have been away - I love that third pic view, but living there - wouldn't it become a little lonesome? Exciting you discovered graves from people more than a century past!

  15. Yes, those layers of history are what makes the desert so special -- well part of it anyway -- there are those spectacular views. I'd never tire of those.

    I almost missed your granddaughter in the shadow under that overhang!

    Beautiful photos -- I'm still in awe of how you enhance the pictos and markings photographically.

  16. I read about your adventure and looked at these photos and suddenly I thought I would like to get this winter to Moab. It's only several hours to drive from where I live but it would be so great to see something different in winter.

    Pat, you always inspire me and you make me dream. Your photos are so original, so amazing that I think how beautiful everything can be and striking without photoshop.

    Great trip, great pictures, Pat!

  17. Interesting discoveries! This is a reminder to me that I need to notice little details around me. I probably would have walked by most of these treasures.

    The "James 1893" reminds me of the first of a few times that I wrote my name on walls. I used a ripe olive that fell from a tree and wrote "James 1975". It faded some but surprisingly lasted for years.

  18. I love the yellow in the first shot of the desert. I have heard of this place so found it fascinating to see the shots.

  19. Pasadena Adjacent - I stumbled upon a two of them a long time ago, while looking for the other stuff. I found a few more after somebody told me there 6-8 graves in the area. It seems like there must be some info about them somewhere. I'm still looking for that. I assume they were people who were working on the ranch.

    Betsy Adams - Thanks Betsy! Hope your post-surgery knee is coming along. Just wait until physical therapy!
    I know what you mean about during the winter. I love it any time of the year, but my wife agrees with you. I would love to show you guys around.

    William Kendall - I hope you get to see it in person someday. Yep, lots of people move to the desert, because they want to be anonymous. People may not have even known his last name.

    sage - Thanks Jeff! Speaking of the view, When I was a kid that adobe house was pretty nice. At some later point (in the 1970's I think), an arsonist set it ablaze. I know that a lot of people wouldn't like to live there because they would feel isolated. The isolation is one of the things that draws me to the desert.

    Brian - My pleasure Brian! I'm glad you like.

    #1Nana - I'm always ready for a desert adventure. In fact, we're heading out to the Yuma AZ area on Monday. If you ever do come out here, (in your RV or not), I'd be delighted to have you "tag along." Sharing these places is my pleasure, I'm glad you enjoy it.

    MontanaGirl - My Pleasure! I'm just glad you like it. It is a pretty special place. More so to me, because I spent so much time there as a kid (before it was a national park) and was exposed to a lot of the history there.

  20. PerthDailyPhoto - Her interest in this stuff really makes me happy. I'm right there with you Grace, I can almost see the ancients going about their lives there.

    jeannettstgermain - Thanks! Happy New year to your family also. I'm sure that a lot of people would feel lonesome there, but I'm not one of them. I love not hearing the sounds of civilization.

    Sallie (Full Time-Life) - Yep! When I was a kid, a lot of that history was more visible. Time takes a toll on things. My GD, has no problem at all exploring. I love that. Thanks Sallie!

    Kaya - I hope you do get to Moab. There are so many amazing places in Utah. My brother in law is willing to give us (and a few other members of the family) chunks of land near Zion NP. We only have to agree to build on it and live there. We're taking a couple of years to think about it. Thanks for what you said about my photos. I pledged to never "process" my photos (an occasional little tweak now and then is okay), but I don't even own Photoshop or any other post processing software and never plan to.

    James - Thanks James! You are not alone, most people do walk right by them. I wrote my name on a wall once. It was pretty stupid, because the wall was part of the church I went to. My mom pledged me to be their slave for two months.

    Nora - Thanks! The late afternoon light is awesome there. It is an amazing place. I'm happy to see your comment, I'm hoping that means you have a post or two up. Can't wait to come over and see your fantastic photos!

  21. What a great adventure with amazing finds... The gravesites, the mortar and rock formations are interesting sights.. Great post and photos.. Happy weekend!

  22. Your temporary insanity works for me. I love the colors, too. We should than Paula for this one? And, haha, yeah, I also love the bit of sunset struggling through the gray on the Wet Dog photo :-)

  23. I know I say this a lot, but I always wonder about the people who lived there, who those graves belonged to, what their story is.

    Beautiful pictures!

  24. Thanks to you, I'll know what to look for and know more accurately what I'm looking at, whenever I get back to Joshua Tree. I suspect it takes the trained eye of experience to hone in on this stuff. The place is overwhelmingly, hauntingly beautiful...

  25. Great trip and great photos as usual. You had asked if the trail in Discovery park was for both biking and walking and the answer is yes. Most of the trails in Santa Clarita Valley are for biking and walking and some of them are also ok for horses.

  26. My one and only visit to the Joshua Tree Park was restricted to the paved roadway. Yes, I got some GREAT photos, but I got no history or feel for life there. Thank you for educating me, Patrick!

  27. Wonderful photos, beautiful place full of beautiful art! Very interesting !!

  28. Another fascinating post. I loved seeing the ancient cupules alongside the relatively modern burial sites. I'm also not keen on putting photos of myself on my blog but we should do it more often I think!

  29. eileeninmd - Thanks so much Eileen. It is always interesting to find, or see these old things.

    tapirgal - Thanks! Yep, I guess Paula has to get credit for that one and she took it with a phone.

    Baby Sister - I have no problem with you saying it a lot, because I wonder the same things.

    Stickup Artist - I am happy to have been of service. You live fairly close to the place, so I'd be happy to show you some of interesting things there.

    Kay -Thanks Kay! Also, thanks for answering my question relating to your post.

    Rosemary - Thanks so much Rosemary! That really makes me feel good about what I do.

    Leovi - Thanks Leovi! It is amazing!

  30. yep, those first three really make a great view!

  31. so much beautirul rock. But the cans? Already becoming history.

  32. "I would LOVE to look out at that view every day."

    Me too, Pat! What a stunning location!

    And I like how you shared the first photograph with you standing in it because it gives us a clear perspective of just how vast that area and adobe ranch house are!

    Grrrreat photographs!

  33. I had to look hard to see Tay. That's a fun photo, and - with her in it - I'm impressed by how big those rocks are.

    Happy New Year's journeys, Pat. xo

  34. I have always been impressed by how much is there, especially things that aren't advertised. I would love to poke around like you do.

  35. What an amazing place. I'm impressed how people could survive here so many years ago.

  36. Mandy Southgate - Thanks Mandy! I also like seeing layers of history in the same area. I guess I should just accept the fact that I'm old, and post a photo with me in it, once in a while.

    DEZMOND - I would LOVE to see that view everyday. Of course, I'd like it more if you could get a phone signal, or the internet there. Oh yeah, maybe electricity and running water also.

    NatureFootstep - Well, they are very old cans! I love the rocks and boulders there.

    Ron - Yep, I could get used that in a hurry! Thanks Ron, I posted the photo with me in it, to show how big the vistas are there. - Thanks Robyn! I wish she was a little less comfortable in those confined spaces, because rattlesnakes like them also. Happy New Year to you also Robyn. First journey of the year, finds us in the Sonoran desert in Southern Arizona.

    Al Penwasser - Yep! For every advertised tourist spot, there are a hundred that aren't.

    Al - It is amazing and so are the people who lived and thrived here.

  37. Ranch hands - I didn't consider that. Still, no last name. Something melancholy about it. Hope you find out some more.

  38. Ranch hands - I didn't consider that. Still, no last name. Something melancholy about it. Hope you find out some more.

  39. Pasadena Adjacent - I agree! A first name and the year you didn't isn't leaving much. I'm pretty sure I can find something more. Heck, I might have already found it and forgotten!

  40. Nice mixture of the very old, and in comparison, the rather new. Beer cans and mortars. I suspect it has been a hard life for both parties. I wonder what the would have taught of each other?

  41. The graves are interesting...nice post. Glad you are getting some use out of DStretch, great stuff.

  42. Amazing that the ring of rocks is still in place a century later.

  43. visualnorway - I guess even some trash can be historic. I'm betting that the Indians had the better life overall. At least until the Spanish, Mexicans and Americans came. Then it all went downhill.

    Daren R. Sefcik - Thanks Daren! Not too much of a chance to use DStretch lately. I've been going to areas, with a lot of petroglyphs and not many pictographs. It just struck me that I wanted to respond to your last email.

    altadenahiker - I'm always happy to find things as they should be. As you know, that isn't always the case.

  44. What a great location and fabulous scenery! The petroglyphs & pictographs are fascinating.

  45. I am in awe of the desert landscapes that you portray so well here, Pat. Such incredible artefacts.... the mortars are superb!

  46. Liz - Thanks so much Liz! I wish I had a house, directly on the spot where this old adobe sat.

    Nat - Thanks Nat! I'm in awe of the landscapes themselves. Like many large places, it is sometimes hard to catch in a photo, how it looks in real life.

  47. Thank you for your blog! And thank you for your stories and photos. I can tell you that the name James written on the rock was for Frank James. He was the original owner of the Desert Queen mine. He was killed by Charlie Martin of the McHaney gang, and the mine stolen. More information on Frank here:

  48. Patti Messenger - Thank you so much for your comment. I had no idea about who "James" was. The park service seems to have very little information on it. I really appreciate the information. I'm going to follow that link right now. I was just there today!

  49. Patti Messenger - I just looked through my info and the park service did make mention of James being killed by Charlie Martin. I had no idea that it related to the graves on the Ryan Ranch. Interesting! I just got back from that website. A couple of questions(if you don't mind).
    How were you able to put the murder and the grave site together? Are you related to Frank James, or somebody else involved? Also, do you have any other information relating to the ranch? Or the mine? Or the area?


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