Greaser Petroglyph Site – Prehistoric Art
Native Americans have lived in southeastern Oregon since the Clovis Period, 12,000 to 10,000 years ago. At that time, pluvial lakes filled many of the high desert basins. Little is known about the people who occupied the land at that time, except that they camped and hunted near the lakes. The earliest petroglyphs in southeastern Oregon may be as much as 12,000 years old.
No one knows when the Greaser petroglyphs were carved or who carved them. They were probably created during either Clovis Period or the Stemmed Point Period that followed, placing the likely period of the Greaser rock carvings sometime between 12,000 and 7,500 years ago.
In 1840, when the first white men came through southern Oregon, the Northern Paiute tribe lived in the southeastern part of Oregon around Greaser Canyon. However, given the age of the carvings, it is possible that the Northern Paiute people had nothing to do with their creation.
The meanings of the Greaser petroglyphs are not known. They may have been used in religious ceremonies or marked tribal ownership of territory. The designs may have been map directions or simply art created to tell a personal story. No one knows.
The Greaser Petroglyph Site is located on land owned by the BLM in eastern Lake County Oregon. The designs were scraped into a basalt boulder. Because of its unique archaeological and cultural significance, the Greaser Petroglyph Site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
The Greaser Petroglyph Site is located 28 miles east of Lakeview, Oregon. The site is in the Warner Valley near Greaser Canyon. The petroglyphs are carved on a southwest-facing basalt boulder, approximately 1⁄2 mile north of Oregon Route 140. The protected area around the petroglyphs covers 9 acres of open rangeland owned by the Bureau of Land Management.
The east facing basalt rim is one of the two southernmost of the “High Lake” sites in Lake County and has many superimposed glyphs. Elevation is about 6,000 feet.