Cedar Siding Shelter

About a year and a half ago, I stumbled across an archaeological report that detailed the 1982 excavation of Cedar Siding Shelter, which is a prehistoric human habitation site near the current alignment of the Union Pacific Railroad (formerly D&RGW) near Cedar Siding, between Price and Woodside, Utah. The report mentions many thousands of artifacts that were found there and collected. Most of those were lithic flakes, but also found were bifaces, metates, manos, potsherds, hammerstones, corn cobs, bone and shell fragments, and other pieces. Several slab-lined cists were also present. However, I told a friend about it and he visited the shelter before I did, and he said there was absolutely nothing left there except the rock art.

I finally visited Cedar Siding Shelter in early September. But first, while driving there from near the Horse Canyon rest area on US-6, I took a short walk to check out something I’d spotted in Google Earth. It looked like a rock wall built around some trees in the satellite imagery, and when I arrived there I found that it was exactly that. However, I think the rock wall predates the trees. It appears to have been either a cabin or a foundation for a canvas tent, probably built by cowboys or sheepherders. There’s a spring nearby, where some pronghorn were relaxing before I intruded into their space. There are also some fairly mature trees growing in the middle of a bulldozed road leading down to the spring, which is what led me to believe the trees inside the stone foundation weren’t there when the structure was built.

Cow trail leading to an old cowboy camp
Cow trail leading to an old cowboy camp

Do I have your attention?
Do I have your attention?

Stone foundation at an old cowboy camp
Stone foundation at an old cowboy camp

Concrete holding the foundation together
Concrete holding the foundation together

Mature juniper tree in the middle of the bulldozed road
Mature juniper tree in the middle of the bulldozed road

Not particularly old, but a cool bottle nonetheless
Not particularly old, but a cool bottle nonetheless

I drove a little farther down the dirt road and parked at Cedar Siding, and then walked about a mile along the railroad tracks to the shelter, which consists of an enormous boulder with overhangs that provide shelter on three sides. A cliff nearby has a deep overhang and also once held some habitation materials. I checked out the overhanging cliff first and found some excavation trenches from the archaeological dig, but didn’t see much else there.

Cedar Siding
Cedar Siding

WJ with Elliott Mesa in the background
WJ with Elliott Mesa in the background

Blue sky reflecting off shiny railroad tracks
Blue sky reflecting off shiny railroad tracks

Blue railroad tie, indicating a culvert below
Blue railroad tie, indicating a culvert below

Trench from an archaeological dig
Trench from an archaeological dig

Trench from an archaeological dig
Trench from an archaeological dig

Broom Snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae)
Broom Snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae)

Next I walked around the entire perimeter of the boulder and found nothing except excavation trenches, piles of dirt where the archaeologists had screened the fill, and a single roughly worked piece of stone. There were also two faint bighorn sheep pictograph which, luckily, weren’t easy to carry away.

Overhang below a huge boulder
Overhang below a huge boulder

The one piece of worked stone I found
The one piece of worked stone I found

Ant lion dens
Ant lion dens

Bighorn sheep pictographs
Bighorn sheep pictographs

Bighorn sheep pictograph
Bighorn sheep pictograph

North overhang
North overhang

Pile of wood near the boulder
Pile of wood near the boulder

In the distance to the south I saw two large cairns and a wooden post, so I hiked over and found a mining claim. The claim papers had been wet and were smashed up inside a PVC pipe so I couldn’t pull them out to read them. I was disappointed to find almost nothing left at the shelter, but glad I’d gotten to see the pictographs. Still, it had made for a nice outing on a lazy Sunday, and I made the short hike back along the tracks to the Jeep and headed home.

Mining claim near Cedar Siding Shelter
Mining claim near Cedar Siding Shelter

Mining claim near Cedar Siding Shelter
Mining claim near Cedar Siding Shelter

North-facing view of Cedar Siding Shelter
North-facing view of Cedar Siding Shelter

Parting view of the huge boulder
Parting view of the huge boulder


Photo Gallery: Cedar Siding Shelter