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, She Who Watches. Traveling to eastern Oregon to visit family we had made a point to stop by and see this place again.
In my youth visiting was easy, the petroglyphs were were almost forgotten and sat quietly along the river, visited by those few who knew they were there.
The Horsethief recreational area was a lightly used picnic area and campground, one of many along the river. If you knew where the little trail was you could simply park by the rail tracks and walk out to the images. Among my earliest memories I remember swimming in the lake and visiting these petroglyphs.
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.
Draining Lake Nicaragua and flowing into the Caribbean is a large river, the Río San Juan de Nicaragua. A great deal of history has passed along this river over the centuries. Before modern highways and air travel this was the main transportation route into the rich lands of central Nicaragua, bypassing the thick belt of rain forest and jungle on the Caribbean coast.
The Río San Juan has seen the passage of Spanish Conquistadors, pirates and foreign armies bent on conquering what is now Nicaragua. Along this route thousands of forty-niners came on their way to the California gold fields, using the river to cross the isthmus to the Pacific Ocean. The border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica is also defined by the south bank along much of the river’s length. While the river’s importance on the international stage has waned, it is still a critical route for local residents that call the region home. Dozens of vessels, from river taxis to barges carry people and cargo to the towns and farms that depend on the river.
The river is also popular with the more adventurous tourists. The history and natural beauty found here makes the area endlessly fascinating. Several large biologic preserves along the river preserve large tracts of natural jungle. Fishermen from across the world come to the Río San Juan as well. Here you can catch Tarpon, a renowned sport fish that can reach 2 meters in length and weigh 100kg.