Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Rock Alignment, Baca County, CO. The middle
rock in this picture is behind the clump
of weeds. Photo: Peter Faris, 1988.

In Baca County, in southeastern Colorado, a very interesting phenomenon is represented by a large number of rock alignments. Straight lines of various sized rocks carefully laid out across the landscape in almost perfect rows, some for considerable distance. The longest that has been reported to me is approximately one-half mile in length. There does not seem to be any discernible pattern to their layout or locations. Some go up hills and down, others up the center of a valley between two hills. These occur over a larger area than just Baca County, Colorado. A few years ago I was told by a rancher from near Boise City, OK, that he had them in that area as well.

A Native American informant reportedly told some investigators that these rock alignments represented escape routes, where members of a threatened tribe could sneak away without leaving any footprints by walking on the rocks like stepping stones. This is patently silly as you would not need to follow footprints to find your quarry if they obligingly had left you a trail of stepping stones to follow, much more durable and easier to see than bread crumbs.

So what is the purpose for these alignments? I truly do not know. As usual these things are “discovered” when they become known to modern science, no matter who knew about them before. Investigators have made much about the fact that they supposedly can only be “seen from above.” Well it is possible that they were made as some sort of spiritual activity, if the labor of creating these lines was an offering to the spirits. That does not fit very well with anything we know about Native American religions. That suggestion does occur to us because it fits well with many of the religious traditions of the dominant western culture. Carved stone saints standing in niches in European cathedrals are fully finished in the back even though no member of the congregation will ever see that back, because God knows whether or not it is complete, and less than complete is thought to be less than satisfactory to God.

We are faced with an unknown here and much serious study will be required to gather more information. Until then, I am open to suggestions.

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