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2018 - Trip Report - Black Mountain Area

Black Mountain Area Trip

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Leader: Nelson Miller Photos from Ken Hemkin, Nelson Miller and Bill & Julie Smith

Sunday after the Museum Work Party, we took off from the Barstow Museum with 5 vehicles and 11 people (Nelson, Ellen, Julia, Ken, Peter & Janet, Bill & Julie, Ron & Barbara, and Jacque). Julia is a grad student working on her doctorate regarding historic and cultural preservation in the Mojave. Jacque is a friend of Barbara’s that we hope will join us on future trips. Thanks to Bill Smith for running tail all day!

This is another trip for which a Giant Thanks is owed to Bill Mann. We visited most of the sites he mentions around Black Canyon in his first book, “Guide to 50 Interesting and Mysterious Sites in the Mojave.” Our first stop was Murphy’s Well, where we explored the petroglyphs and a few historic signatures.


We proceeded on to Inscription Canyon, where we met Sam Hunter, a Museum member dedicated to protecting Black Canyon. He shared his unique views of the meaning behind all the petroglyphs and pointed out some interesting petroglyphs in Inscription Canyon. We had lunch and spent about an hour and a half exploring Inscription Canyon and talking to Sam.

After lunch, we stopped at the Birdman Petroglyph, which Ken had always wanted to see and which Bill Mann indicates was at one time the logo of the American Institute of Archaeology. Below it are three bedrock grinding stones and one the historic “Tillman Signatures” from the 1870’s.

We continued on around Black Mountain to our next stop at Scout’s Cove, where we explored a miner’s dwelling carved into the tufa dome and scouted for opal. Bill Mann reports that the Tiffany Jewelry Company financed mining of fire opal here.

Next stop was Black Canyon Well and a short distance further Black Canyon Stage Stop. Where was the water for the Stage Stop? Another Bill Mann mystery! We saw another Tillman signature here. Both the 20-Mule Teams and a stage line followed this route through Black Canyon. Who was Tillman? More Bill Mann mysteries.

We progressed along our route and found the Spiderman Petrogylph among hundreds of others in the boulder field along the edge of another Black Mountain. A bit further down the road we stopped in the Canyon also filled with petroglyphs, including a stick figure with an atlatl and scrawled modern graffiti, even “E=MC2”. At the end of the day with the sun beginning to set, we headed for home.