Lassen County’s outstanding rock images are the subject of a free PowerPoint presentation on Friday, October 20 at 7pm. The event is at Nevada City’s Madelyn Helling Library, 980 Helling Way. It features Bill Drake, president of Friends of Sierra Rock Art and retired Tahoe National Forest archaeologist Nolan Smith.

Three sites will be highlighted.

One site is an outcrop used by several Native American cultures over many centuries. It has two caves with petroglyphs (pecked images) and pictographs (painted images). Shadows cast on the images mark the summer solstice and fall equinox sunrise and sunset as well as a lunar cycle. “This is a wonderful site that has been very important to Native people. As well as its astronomical aspects, many of the rock images are fascinating,” Drake points out.

The second site is a Lassen County creek that has dozens of rock image sites as well as interesting rock formations that appear to have served both domestic and defensive purposes. The images in this area are dated from 1500 to 3000 years ago.

Lastly, a beautiful natural water holding tank or spring at the beginning of a tributary to a creek will be featured. In addition to its natural beauty, which includes wildflowers throughout the summer and into the fall, rock images surround the year-round water pool, marking it as a special, even sacred, location. The images span hundreds if not thousands of years.

Smith worked as an archaeologist for the Tahoe National Forest for forty years He served as a district archaeologist and worked closely with Friends of Sierra Rock Art during much of that time. He is a member of the board of FSRA and oversees the non-profit’s monitoring of ancient petroglyph sites on the National Forest.

Drake, who has taught courses in Native American history, culture, and politics to high school students, has spent over thirty years studying rock image sites in the southwest and western United States. He co-founded FSRA in 1990.

Friends of Sierra Rock Art, which is sponsoring the event, works with the Tahoe National Forest, other agencies, and Native Americans to protect cultural resources. It is the first non-professional organization to have received the Society for California Archaeology’s prestigious Helen C. Smith award for contributions to California archaeology.

Masks are encouraged.

For more information go to or contact Jane Punneo York at