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Hidden Utah – Ogden

Ogden trails hold disputed petroglyph sites.


“Running Warrior” *Photos by David Owen, used with permission.

There are many things Ogden is known for; the classic pool scene in The Sandlot, a once derelict downtown turned robust, some of the best hiking and cycling trails in the state and of course skiing. There are other things that you can easily miss.

In a new book, Secrets of the Ogden Trails, a collective of authors share stories about the Ogden Trails Network; how the nonprofit came to life, how the trails were built and some of the hidden gems along the various routes making up the city network.

When the book first came out there was a buzz in social networks and outdoor clubs about several of the secrets shared and of one of the “secrets of the trails” in particular: petroglyphs! Two petroglyph sites are included in the book. The first is a definitive petroglyph site, called Fallen Rocks, and was registered by local archaeologist Mark Stuart in 1984. According to the book, “[Stuart] and his fellow members of the Utah Statewide Archaeological Society have probably found more than 100 prehistoric sites near the Bonneville Shoreline Trail…. Two pictograph sites were found near the Fallen Rocks Shelter. The ‘Six Finger’ site which depicts four red figures may be 1,200 years old.”

While most petroglyph sites in the state are debated over authenticity and dating, the second set of glyphs featured in the Secrets book are especially questionable. The second set, known as the Ogden Mystery Glyphs, on a rock infamously titled the Ogden High Graffiti Rock, are located just above Ogden High School. There’s a lot of speculation about these markings, that they appear newer, that the site is too close to modern living, and other questionable attributes. “The Spanish gold miners, Chinese railroad workers, Native Americans and Mormon pioneers were cited as possibly responsible in a 2001 issue of Utah Archaeology. But there are others who, according to the book, believe “the markings were left by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prophet Moroni and indicate nearby buried treasure.”

If you’re hoping the book will divulge where to find the glyphs, tough luck. The trails committee is keeping the locations semi under wraps. As in, they aren’t going to publish directions to the glyphs, or GPS coordinates, any time soon. If you happen to know a committee member, they’ll gladly take you on an adventure to discover the glyphs in person. Why? As with all discovered petroglyph sites, there has already been a significant amount of vandalism and deterioration to the sites. The trail committee would rather see the sites preserved and available to those who stumble across them. If you do happen to see them for yourself, don’t touch them. “Even touching the pictographs can introduce skin oils that damage the rock art.”

“Six Fingers” – Near Fallen Rocks Shelter

To discover more secrets in the hills and hidden valleys of Ogden, pick up a copy of Secrets of the Ogden Trails, compiled by committee members Ron Thornburg, David Owen, and Michael Goodwin. Books are available at Hastings, Wisebird Bookery, Imagine Music and the Ogden City Cashiers Office on the first floor of the municipal building.


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