Fort Rock, a National Natural Landmark, is located in the high Oregon desert some 70 miles southeast of Bend, Oregon and about 1 mile north of the town of Fort Rock. Part of the northern Great Basin, the Fort Rock Valley is part of an ancient dried lake. Fort Rock itself is an extinct volcano. Fort Rock is an old tuff ring created by volcanic action in what was a shallow sea in prehistoric times.
Looking like a huge fort from forgotten times, its jagged rock walls tower 325 feet above the plain. Take the trail around the interior of the "fort" and you'll soon realize it's even bigger than it looks!
Fort Rock Cave is located about 1/2 mile west of Fort Rock.
In 1938 Luther Cressmann, a University of Oregon archaeologist, discovered prehistoric artifacts in the cave, including sandals woven from bark and dating back more than 9,000 years .
Cave tours can be arranged by contacting the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
Fort Rock Cave was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961
"Jim Lough gave us permission to publish his story. I think his writing and photographs will be a wonderful addition to our website."
M.E."Jack" Swisher, past-president
Fort Rock Valley Historical Society
A little while back, on the invitation of Mary's good friend, Linda, we attended a meeting of the Archaeological Society of Central Oregon. The featured speaker was Dennis Jenkins, of the University of Oregon. Professor Jenkins prefaced his talk on the field processes of archaeology by praising ASCO for its distinguished achievements through its close alignment with professional standards and practices. Needless to say, although I am not much of a joiner, it was pretty easy for us to write our $20 checks to become members for a year. One of the benefits of membership is the ability to participate in the club's field trips.
Mary and I signed up for the guided tour of Ft. Rock Cave, which occurred on Saturday. The cave is famous for its excavation in 1938, by Luther Cressman. Below a layer of Mt. Mazama ash, Cressman dug up 75 sage-bark sandals that were dated to 9,000 - 10,000 years before excavation.
Before embarking on the cave tour, we were guided through the Fort Rock Valley Homestead Museum. While attempting to stay tuned in to Jack's enlightening commentary, I also occupied myself with recording a few images. The museum consists largely of homestead-era buildings that have been preserved.
Equipment of the period is also on display. This is a well-drilling rig.
This image seems to tell a story.
It may find its way to this year's competition at the county fair.
The excellent tour of the cave was conducted by Leslie Olson, who is associated with Oregon State Parks, as well as the archaeology club. Ft. Rock Cave has seen a variety of inhabitants over the millennia, including a few cliff swallows.
When the cave was inhabited by humans,
Fort Rock was surrounded by a vast marsh, which must have been extraordinarily rich in consumable resources.
I think one of the great values of anthropology, archaeology, and geology is their influence in making us think beyond the way things are, in contemplating the way things were, and -- more importantly -- how they could be and how they will be. Jim