The Thinking Behind
the Project:3
by Robert Ford

While gazing at the marks and surrounding country a new theory came to light.  Maybe they were some sort of road signs or maps, glyphs explaining how, where and when to find water in this vast arid landscape. 

I recalled reading Major John Wesley Powell's writings describing his Paiute Indian guides.  The guides were leading him and the Mormon Missionary, Jacob Hamblin, from Pipe Springs to an area below Mt. Trumbull.  There they hoped to learn the fate of his three missing crewmembers from the 1869 voyage down the Colorado River.  Powell's written description of the route would have taken him and his party very near this ridge. 

Looking to the east I could see Pipe Springs and far off to the southwest was Mt. Trumbull, hidden by the ledge of chocolate cliffs which Powell described as they rode beneath. Perhaps, as they were passing by, his guides climbed this ridge to study these marks before leading their guests on into a dangerous and unfamiliar country. 

Perhaps they had been studying marks like these at similar sites all along.  The guides ability to find routes and water intrigued Powell, it was as if they could read the rocks. 

The Arizona Strip is a beautiful but inhospitable place.  The one vital ingredient it lacks is permanent water.  There are but a few scattered water pockets, holes in the rocks, which hold water for a period of time after it rains. 

The Spanish Padres Dominguez and Escalante discovered this in the fall of 1776 as their expedition tried to transverse it. 

Even Powell's tattered men, after emerging from the depths of the Grand Canyon, had wandered into a Shivwits Indian camp in search of water and directions to the nearest settlement, neither of which was close by. 

The returning veterans of WW1 were offered homesteads on the Strip, they and others came in droves to tame it.  In just a few short years all were gone except for old Bruce McDaniels, choked out for the lack of water...

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Major John W. Powell
& Chief Tau-gu

Expedition Map

Powell at Bureau of Ethnological Survey

Bureau's Survey of Non-Christian Tribes