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.
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.
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.
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.
Photo Gallery: Cedar Siding Shelter