Among the petroglyphs at Horsethief Lake is one that has always caused me to wonder. Of course the site is home to the famous Tsagaglalal or She-Who-Watches image. This is not the one I refer to, rather a somewhat smaller and usually overlooked image.
To me this petroglyph is obviously a total solar eclipse.
To my eye the image is clearly that of the solar corona surrounding the black shadow of the Moon against the Sun. The image is all the more striking to me personally… In 1979 I witnessed a total solar eclipse, my first, just a short distance from here, from the bluffs above Maryhill.
We stopped by to see the petroglyphs. The Horsethief petroglyphs are something special to me, wrapped in childhood memories. This is also where I proposed to Deborah, in front of the magnificent Tsagaglalal, or She-Who-Watches. Traveling to eastern Oregon to visit family we had made a point to stop by and see this place again.
As we were getting out of the vehicle a lady was walking by, she called out to us…
“Are you here to see the steam engine?”
“Uhh? What steam engine?”
This is a bit of a surprise. The petroglyphs are located just above the riverside tracks. When visiting you park in a small gravel lot just beside a train crossing that leads down to the river and a boat launch.
Not having any clue we had to ask… She let us know that a steam engine is about half an hour out and headed this way. Looking about again I realize we are amongst a group of train spotters… Cameras, tripods set up by the tracks, VHF radios… OK. I can be a train spotter today. Putting petroglyph viewing aside for the moment we join the group by the crossing waiting for a train.