The Donner Pass Petroglyphs
The rocks here are carved with ancient symbols called petroglyphs.
They were created by pecking the surface of the rock with a tool called a hammerstone. These petroglyphs are thought to be several thousand years old.
Similar figures are found in many places in the northern Sierra Nevada,
usually on gently sloping granite polished by glaciers. Shapes such as circles, zigzags, and wavy lines are common. Human and animal forms, such as stick figures and tracks are less common. Some sites contain only a single element, while others, such as this one, may contain hundreds of individual elements.
No one knows what these symbols mean.
Current studies suggest that petroglyphs are linked to the spiritual and ceremonial life of the people who created them. What do you think they mean?
Ancient Washoe People, Wa She Shu
, created these petroglyphs. This pass is the main corridor for travel to and from Lake Tahoe, Da ow a ga
. Gathering places were numerous in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Trade of food, arts & crafts, clothing materials and other essentials, took place in prominent places along the trail.
Preserving the Past for the Future
Do you have a spiritually significant place? This place was probably sacred for the people who created these figures. Please treat it with the same respect you would have for your own place of worship.
Petroglyphs are fragile and irreplaceable; help preserve them by following these guidelines:
· Walk around, not on them. Footsteps grind away the rock surface and destroy the images.
· Please don't make rubbings or tracings. Rubbing wears away the rock surface.
· Leave rocks, plants, and artifacts where they lie. These figures and the surrounding area enhance our understanding of the people who created the petroglyphs.
· Please don't build campfires at petroglyph sites. Fires leave scars.
· Please remove you trash. Litter is ugly and disrespectful.
Thank you for respecting our mother earth.