Monday, April 10, 2017

Charlebois Petroglyphs

April 3, 2017 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The Charlebois petroglyphs site is probably the most maligned pre-historic rock-writing site in the Southwest. The site is located just upstream from the confluence of Charlebois and La Barge Canyons. Prior to the heavy pumping of the ground water in the Salt River Valley, the seeps and springs along La Barge Canyon were verdant oases for the early inhabitants of the region. The pre-historic Native Americans hunted Bighorn sheep, Mule deer, and other animals in the area. Archaeologists claimed it was the success of these hunts that were recorded on the canyon wall in La Barge.

The Petroglyphs of La Barge Canyon are often incorrectly called the “Master Map by treasure hunters.”
Some time around the turn of the 19th Century prospectors and treasure hunters found their way into the Superstition Mountains. They cast their critical eyes upon on these figures carved in stone by the ancient hunters in La Barge Canyon and believed they had found an ancient Spanish treasure map. It wasn’t long before the petroglyphs were known as the Spanish Master Map. One man promoted this scenario more than any other individual. This man was John T. Clymenson (Barry Storm). Storm was not the only man to promote the Master Map in La Barge Canyon as Old Spanish rock writing. Oren Arnold used the Master Map in La Barge in some of his writings (1930-1972). Another man who never let the truth stand in the way of a good story was Barney Barnard. He called the petroglyphs a master map also. Most writers have included the stone writings in their books somehow.
The Bighorn Mountain Sheep were
often depicted in Petroglyphs by
the Native Americans on rocks
 throughout the American Southwest.

I first visited the Inscription Rock, in 1954, with my father. Dad thought it was important to check it out. He studied the rock for a few minutes and was convinced it was nothing more than petroglyphs. I traveled to the site several times between 1954-1959. Each trip produced some new markings on the rock.

Sometimes the alterations were minor; a couple of times the alterations were major.

The petroglyphs in La Barge Canyon, known as Inscription Rock, require a nine-mile hike from First Water Trailhead. First Water Trailhead is located Northeast of Apache Junction on the edge of the Superstition Wilderness Area. Drive northeast on the Apache Trail (SR88) from Apache Junction 4.9 miles to First Water Trailhead Road (FS78). Turn right on First Water Road and drive to the parking lot, approximately 2.5 miles. Hike into the mountains on Dutchman’s Trail (104) to East Boulder Canyon, then over Bull’s Pass and down into Needle Canyon. Follow the Dutchman’s Trail (104) on into La Barge Canyon. Once you are in La Barge hike about 1.5 miles up canyon to the confluence of Charlebois and La Barge Canyons. The petroglyphs are located in La Barge about 200 yards up the canyon on a rocky outcrop on the left side of the canyon.

This is an eighteen-mile round-trip. Only those who are in excellent condition and experienced hikers should attempt this trip. The hike should only be made between the middle of November and the 1st of April. Always be sure to carry an ample supply of water. Charlebois Spring is an excellent area to camp and a good source of water year around. Please leave the petroglyphs as you found them. Only take photos of this Native American Inscription Rock.