Tyson’s Wash Petroglyphs
Tyson’s Wash is a pretty interesting place, being the main water thoroughfare through Quartzsite, AZ. It is mainly a flowing depression of deep sand, and much of it is hundreds of feet wide. Most of the time, it’s parched. But when rains come in sufficient quantity, it is full, and moving fast. I went to see it yesterday while searching out an appropriate campsite with one C. Swankie, an RVer with considerable energy and fortitude. Since she has a degree in archeology, she served as my tour guide while on foot. Her blog is here, and be ready to be amazed by her Bucket List. She’s one of those people – just reading her bucket list makes me feel tired!
The path to get to the petroglyphs was obvious and easy, to a point. Once in the vicinity, a few abrupt washouts made chassis clearance a concern, but 4WD was never needed. Once at the wash, a quick drop-off ended the F-250’s ability to go any further without finding another, easier approach. I would have also liked to drive the wash itself, but it was a mix of nicely packed areas and soft sand, which would pose an instant problem for 9,000 pounds of lumbering iron on street tires. This is ATV and Jeep territory, and the Jeep had better have wide tires. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference when you’re walking along and your shoes start to sink in a couple of inches.
At any rate, this area once served as a home base for the indigenous peoples, and by the looks of it, for quite some time. Their artwork on the rock faces is impressive, and it still remains to this point vandal-free. There are grinding holes at the top of one of the formations, and some of them have been worn pretty deep. Just looking at these features provides an odd sense of connection and continuity that’s difficult to explain – odd, given the huge disparity in people, place and time. It all comes down to being a human being, I guess.
The surrounding area also served as the original townsite of Quartzsite. That proved an unfortunate choice, since a major flood soon washed it away. It was then relocated to its current location, where Fort Tyson originally stood on higher ground. A sizable safe filled with gold is still believed to be buried deep in the wash somewhere.