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Massacre Rocks State Park

American Falls, Idaho
July 2, 2006

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How could we pass up the unfortunately-named Massacre Rocks State Park for our camping stopover? We took a swim in the Snake River at dusk and climbed atop the boulders, wondering what catastrophe had befallen someone here. Was it Indians got massacred? Or was it Indians did the massacre-ing? Were Mormons involved? Would we hear the wails in the wind at night?

In the morning, a chatty ranger (who had paused in his rounds to talk VW vans with us) explained that the name represented significant overbilling. The park is located along the Oregon trail at a spot where it winds through a narrow gap in boulders, a place that trail guides thought themselves especially susceptible to an attack -- which, it turns out, never came.

At nearby Register Rock, pioneers scratched their names and initials into the rock. These drawings of an Indian chief and a preacher were scratched into the rock in 1866 by a 7-year-old who was crossing along the trail with his family. In Oregon, he grew up to become a sculptor and returned to visit the carvings at a ceremony in 1908.