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Rock of ages, afar

The Reporter's Notebook

Once upon a time there was this rock along the Snake River just out of Melba, Idaho.

It was an Indian map rock where ancient natives had etched the route of the Snake River along with other helpful information.

While a reporter for the Idaho Free Press, I did a story on the rock map that later was picked up by the Salt Lake Tribune magazine.

When living in the Boise Valley, I had visited the rock many times.

Friends of mine, Myron and Gwen Finkbeiner, reported to me recently that they went out to see the rock and it was gone.

Myron has been battling a bout with cancer and often takes drives as a form of relaxation. The Finkbeiners and our family had often traveled together, seeing the interesting sites in Idaho.

Let me tell you about the rock.

The basalt rock is about 5 feet high, 5 feet wide and about 5 feet deep. 

Myron stated that they went to the right site, and the sign was still there, but the rock had gone missing.

I have pictures of the rock in my file, and it is huge.

Myron said he thought the rock had been moved to Celebration Park, just a few miles on the other side of Melba.

That rock would easily tip in at 5 tons or so. I’m wondering how they could have moved that rock? And also there are restrictions in the state against messing with native sites.

So I got on the phone to a young lady who works for Canyon County parks and asked if they had moved the rock. She got a good laugh out of my question.

He said she was very familiar with the map rock and stated that would be a real test to move it.

She said that Myron must have overlooked the rock and gave me precise directions.

She said it was on Map Rock Road, just off Highway 45. The lady stated that Map Rock boat launch was five miles up the road but that the actual map rock was two-and-a-half miles past the boat launch.

It has been estimated that the rock map had been etched some 12,000 years ago, long before Europeans were on the scene.

People familiar with the rock believe it was carved to help native peoples find hunting and fishing sites as well as other things.

So I contacted the Finkbeiners with the information and a few days later got a call that they had found the rock.

So the map rock remains in its original place on the north side of the Snake River for all to see.

It was a mystery that didn’t exist, but it brought back a lot of memories from along the Snake.


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