and NPC Geology Professor Randy Porch.
Petroglyphs tell story of ancient residents
Rich brown tones of desert varnish on the sandstone cliffs outside of present-day Holbrook provided the perfect canvas for ancient inhabitants to record what was occurring in their daily lives. Here are petroglyphs, or rock carvings, depicting successful hunts, good harvests, and maybe a tremendous meteor shower or even the impact that created Barringer or Meteor Crater, west of Winslow.
The sand, wind and rains of time have failed to erase these etchings. Cowboys from the nearby Zuch Ranch added their own “historic rock art” to the varnish in the late 1880s. In more recent times, some of the petroglyphs have become targets for destructive rifle sharpshooters. But what event “Cliff the Glyph” is recording remains a mystery to modern-day scientists.
"Cliff the Glyph" petroglyph.
Today, the area is part of the Hidden Cove Petroglyph Park, owned and managed by the City of Holbrook. Mike O’Dell, a city employee, has been attempting to record the petroglyphs on his own time since the 1980s.
"Cliff the Glyph" T-shirt.
Efforts to preserve the rock carvings recently received a financial boast with a nearly $100,000 grant from the Recreation Trails Grant from the Arizona State Parks Board to construct seven miles of new trails, restore damage to aquatic and riparian areas, provide educational and wayfinding signs and add support facilities, including picnic tables, benches and trash receptacles. Another grant application for additional projects is still pending.
O’Dell, who serves as the unofficial guide/ranger, has been working with representatives from Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to prioritize projects in the park. He describes how birdwatchers have been inventorying species that use the tamarisk trees that would be removed under plans to restore the riparian area. Reaching a compromise will be the key for the multi-use park facility.
Groups or individuals wanting to visit the Hidden Cove Petroglyph Park should contact the City of Holbrook, (928) 524-6225, to arrange tours.
Northland Pioneer College is using the “Cliff the Glyph” petroglyph as the background for the cover photo of the Spring 2014 Class Schedule, which is being distributed to 51,000 postal customers in Navajo and Apache counties. Both students, Aaron O’Dell and Christina Scott-Ford, are residents of Holbrook and plan to complete Associate of Business (AB) degrees – Aaron this May and Christina next December.
The photo shoot was the first opportunity NPC Geology instructor Randy Porch ever had to explore the rock outcroppings and petroglyphs. After “that’s a wrap,” Porch quickly disappeared around Cliff’s outcropping and climbed to another magnificent wall of etchings. “It is a very interesting place,” noted Porch.
When this 18-year veteran NPC instructor is not in the classroom, you’ll find him doing lots of hikes, bike rides and other nature activities with his dogs, or giving talks about the area’s geology for the National Forest Service, TRACKS, Audubon Society, public schools or Boy Scouts.
Porch was born in Miami, Fl., but grew up in Glendale, AZ. He has a bachelor’s degree in geology, and two master’s degrees – an MS in Earth science and an MEd in community college education. He has specialized training in borehole physics and well logging that he used while working as a engineer with Dresser Industries.
Each semester Porch teaches two Geology courses, either “live” or via the interactive video network — GLG 101 Introduction to Physical Geology and GLG 102 Introduction to Historical Geology. Both meet general education transfer requirements and include field studies into the magnificent outdoor classroom of our area.
“Physical geology focuses on Earth materials and the processes that shape its surface,” Porch said. “In GLG 101 students study minerals and learn about the origin and how to identify the three rock types. This gives them a scientific perspective to discuss oil, coal, water and other geological resources.”
In his Historical Geology course, students look at the changes in land and biology that have occurred over time. “Students learn how to interpret these events from the information preserved in the rock record,” explains Porch. His students participate in a two-day field study in central Arizona, making observations and collecting data that is later evaluated in the lab.
Previous projects have included studies of wind direction that deposited sand dunes or collecting fossils to interpret the environment in which they lived.
“I have the best job!” declares Porch. Yet he longs to spend more time in North Dakota with his grown daughter, Brianne, and grandchildren Greycee, Isabella and Eden.
Andrew Hassard wears multiple hats in NPC’s Social & Behavioral Science Department – serving as chair and teaching geography, history, anthropology and honors (President’s Scholars) courses to a diverse group of students. His classes meet degree general education requirements needed by students planning to transfer to a university, future teachers, nursing and career and technical education students working on an associate degree or planning to later pursue a bachelor’s degree. “The prep(aration) for multiple courses isn’t easy, but it sure beats giving the same lecture five times a week,” joked Hassard.
This spring Hassard plans to take the President’s Scholars on a tour of one of the local power generating facilities as part of their study of energy.
Born and raised in the San Francisco area, Hassard’s family moved to Jackson, Miss., during his high school years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Southern Mississippi. After completing his master’s thesis in cultural geography on “The Diffusion of Blues Music” from the University of South Carolina, he returned to Jackson, where he served as bartender and later manager of the largest night club in Mississippi, plus several bars/restaurants and family entertainment centers. “Getting people stupid paid better than getting ‘em smart!” added Hassard.
Now in his 11th year at NPC, Hassard enjoys activities with his son Atlan, 17, a senior at Blue Ridge High School. He also helped organize the first Arizona Disc Golf Championship in the White Mountains and has now turned pro. “I love NPC. The only reason I would leave is to retire at 50 and be a senior pro disc golfer.”
Christina Scott-Ford is a second year student with a perfect 4.0 Grade Point Average, earning her recognition on the President’s List. A work study in the PDC Library, the Missouri transplant has taken classes from both Hassard and Porch. “They are both great professors,” she said. “I had never heard about Pangea (the large landmass that nearly extended from pole to pole) until I was in one of Professor Hassard’s classes. It was fascinating to learn about the geology of this area from Professor Porch.” She plans to transfer to Arizona State University, utilizing an All-Arizona Academic Team tuition waiver to complete her bachelor’s degree in business.
Aaron O’Dell is also a second year student. He took college-level classes at Holbrook High School and expects to complete requirements for two associate degrees – an Associate of Business (AB) and Associate of Science (AS) – this May. Aaron is in Hassard’s President’s Scholars program and also plans to use an All-Arizona Academic Team tuition waiver to complete his bachelor’s degree. Over the years Aaron has helped his father, Mike, record the rock etchings for future generations.