White River Narrows
White River Narrows Archeological District is located in east central
Nevada, about 90 miles south of Ely and 150 north of Las
It is transected by State Highway 318, which is also known as
the Sunnyside Cutoff. It is a shortcut to Ely and it passes by
Sunnyside and the Sunnyside Ranch. Noted for its outstanding rhyolite
cliffs and petroglyphs, the White River Narrows is on the
National Register of Historic Places.
Cattle can sometimes be seen grazing throughout the bottom of the long and alternating wide and narrow canyon. The flat canyon floors are surrounded by high, steep walls making this place a perfect pen for grazing animals.
In contrast to the nearby desert at lower elevations, the floor of this long canyon has grasses and plants which cattle find suitable for grazing.
It is not difficult to imagine that deer and other high desert grazers such as Big Horn Sheep favored this area in the past, before it was used for open range cattle grazing.
As one walks the length of this series of canyons it becomes apparent that the barriers provided by the steep canyon walls makes each little sub canyon or valley a perfect corral. Either end can be cut off and few escape routes exist. Grazing animals might feel that these valleys are protected by the high canyon walls from predators.
The canyon walls also protect against the persistent, cold wind that blows through this desert in the fall and winter times of the year.
Because 1) the valley floors are so wide, and 2) surrounded by the 50 meter cliffs in most places, and 3) the valley floors appealed to grazing animals, it would seem that in prehistoric times this is a good place to trap and hunt these animals.
Possibly the scenes depicted in the petroglyphs that can be found here reflect hunting activities. The panel shown here depicts a lot of different images, but the dominant theme seems to be a hunting or herding scene where Big Horn sheep are drawn next to a fence-like image.
Notable are images located in many nearby areas that depict anthropomorphic figures that are particular to the immediate area. The 'Pahranagat Man' is an image that is found throughout this area.
Because the image is unique and the general form is repeated in several locations, much has been made of Pahranagat Man and the origins of this image. The area described as the Pahranagat Trail covers the area roughly including the White RiverValley, the Pahranagat and Meadows Valley Wash and possibly other areas further south to as far as Valley of Fire and the valley's which feed into the Lower Colorado River.
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