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  • Petroglyph Lake attracts lightning and visitors

    Petroglyph Lake, at the northerly periphery of Lake County’s high dry lakes region, is a popular and instructive place located near the northwest corner of the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge.  A marked, two-mile easy road and a half-mile hike leads to the distinctive basalt rim on the western edge of a year-round desert lake.  The site holds what appears to be at least three distinct traditions of petroglyphs: recent “loose” figurative spirit motifs; archaic abstract, often deeply carved and patinaed; and a carefully articulated anthropomorph-lizard style. 

    In addition to Weides’ and Lorings’ descriptive documentation (site 146), Jon Daehnke and Anan Raymond of the US Fish and Wildlife Service published a thorough report in 2008 based on a detailed recording in the late 1990s of 65 panels with more than 360 design elements.  They also mapped rock structures such as cairns and rings. (The Archaeology of Petroglyph Lake: Landscapes, Publics Past and Public Present. )

    Arlene Benson and Floyd Buckskin conducted an unusual study in the late 1980s assessing possible relationships of petroglyphs to lightning strikes.  Their study was thorough but inconclusive.  However, they provide interesting ethnographic details, for example about lizard power (Achumawi, or Pit River) and the power of thunder and lightning recognized as spirits to many native peoples.  ("Magnetic Anomalies at Petroglyph Lake." Rock Art Papers 8 (1991): 53-64.)