As I work on one of my many never-ending jobs of processing images for stock I came across the Petroglyphs I had captured at Columbia Hills State Park on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, reminding me that progress comes at a price.
One such site, I and millions of others have benefited greatly from, is the loss of a canyon name “Tamani Pesh-Wa” name by the local Indians meaning “Written On Rock”, and what locals called Petroglyph Canyon. Completion of the Dalles Dam in 1957 created a lake behind the dam named Celilo after the now submerged waterfalls of the same name. The rising waters filled this canyon changing the surrounding landscape to what we see today.
This section of Federally protected National Scenic Area of the Columbia River Gorge, where one can see in the not too distant foothills, large agriculture grounds of wheat and wind turbines.
Views of Mt. Hood
and basalt rock geological formations which invite one to pause and
take in the open landscapes found in this area, a vast ecological difference from the more popular visited western section of temperate rainforest and multiple falls that cascade over majestic basalt cliffs.
Before the dam this section of the Gorge cut a deep path, known as Petroglyph Canyon, where the ancient ones “wrote on rocks”. Oh how I would love to have been able to explore this canyon before the rising waters. To imagine how these people lived while contemplating the Petroglyphs they left. To ponder their reaction to seeing, what we see today, this area that was their home. This is what draws me to capture what I call the art of being. To try to become mentally a part of what I capture. To ponder what inspired the ancient ones to leave their mark on these basalt cliff walls. Was it just an artist applying a form of graffiti, or a group of etchings when observed as a group told a story, or something much more meaningful in reference to religious beliefs. I run through such thoughts in my mind as I contemplate their existence and who the artist/artists were.
I am thankful that as progress continued on the Dam, an effort to preserve some of this ancient work from Petroglyph Canyon took place by cutting some from the walls of the canyon before the rising waters flooded the area. Eventually these cuttings found a new home along a paved path where one can view them on a guided tour in Washington’s Columbia Hills State Park which I had arrived too late to join that day. I will return for those seen from the parking lot, shown here, intrigue me and I long to see and capture more.
Dee Browning, photographer/artist