Sequoia National Park Hospital Rock Pictures, Southwest Native Americans
A Stop Worth Making!
When one thinks of visiting Sequoia National Park one's thoughts (for most people) probably wander towards thinking of the grandeur of the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range where the magnificent giant sequoias and surrounding forested areas are located. Surely that is one main enticing reason to visit the park! Hospital Rock and the fact of Southwest Native Americans camping there for possibly as long as one thousand years or more might be overlooked by many.
Hospital Rock is located near Foothills Visitor Center Park Headquarters of Sequoia National Park which is near Three Rivers, California. Three Rivers lies at an elevation of 857 feet (261 meters) above sea level. Entrance at this point is from the west at approximately the midpoint of Sequoia National Park.
Traveling the zig-zagging meandering roads through Sequoia National Park and the adjacent Kings Canyon National Park to the north, be certain that whatever vehicle one is driving is in tip top shape. The gears and brakes of each vehicle will certainly be put through one's paces with the elevation changes!
The elevation at Hospital Rock is around 3,000 feet above sea level.
My traveling companion and I were coming down from much higher elevations when we decided to stop and enjoy a picnic lunch at Hospital Rock. A good parking area and quite a few picnic tables are provided and the setting is not only beautiful, but interesting and historic as well.
Where did Hospital Rock get its name? Supposedly a bear trapper by the name of James Everton got accidentally shot when working around one of his traps and used that area to recover.
It was an area that Indians had utilized over the centuries prior to the white man making his way west and discovering the pretty setting which provided a source of shelter, food and a nearby water source from the Kaweah River. Mostly utilized in the winter months the Indians who called this area home would have moved higher up into the mountains where it was cooler in the scorching summertime heat.
Location of Three Rivers, California
Stone Pestle and Mortar Holes at Hospital Rock
There was a sign at the location of Hospital Rock showing an Indian woman identified as "Jane Whaley, a Wobonuch (one of the Monache tribes) using a boulder pestle in a bedrock mortar."
Additional information on the sign stated the following: "With a stone pestle weighing five to ten pounds, Indian women pounded and ground whole acorns into meal in these mortar holes. Most western tribes depended on one primary source of food. In this area it was acorns. Before acorn meal can be safely eaten, it must be leached to get rid of poisonous tannin. Hot water was poured over the acorn meal in a leaf-lined sand pit until the meal no longer tasted bitter."
As one can easily see from the photo that I took at this Hospital Rock site there were many such holes in the rocks of this area. Just think of the countless hours the Indian women would have been sitting cross-legged grinding those acorns into a usable meal for baking bread.
Those of us who purchase our flour, corn meal and the like have it easy compared to native peoples who had no such conveniences but rather had to live off of what the land provided.
Some beautiful vivid red pictographs (also known as rock paintings) created by resident American Indians are easily viewed at Hospital Rock. Whatever materials were utilized in painting these rocks has certainly stood the test of time! What story do they tell us of the past?
Civilian Conservation Corps
During the Great Depression hundreds of thousands of people got some temporary employment by working for a government agency called the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It was all a part of President Roosevelt's New Deal and many improvements were made on publicly owned land.
At Hospital Rock a trail was built to a nearby waterfall on the Kaweah River making it possible for more people to see this beautiful area. This is but one very small example of the type of work executed by the CCC.
This can also be done at the Hospital Rock area within Sequoia National Park. My friend and I were satisfied merely viewing the sites and enjoying our picnic the day of our visit.
The video below shows the fun kayakers can have along this Hospital Rock portion of the Kaweah River. It certainly looks like it would make for a wet, wild and exciting time!
Names of Indian Tribes
Those who have left behind evidence of their residence at Hospital Rock include the following Indian tribes:
- Western Mono (Monache)
- and Paiutes (all of which are considered to be Shoshonean)
- plus the occasional visit from the Yokuts.
When the white man was moving west and settling in nearby areas in the mid-1800s they brought with them some unwelcome diseases. The Indians had no natural defenses against diseases such as smallpox, scarlet fever or measles and because of this their numbers were decimated.
It was not always warfare and massacres that killed the Native Americans although that certainly played a part.
If you find yourself visiting Sequoia National Park, see where some Southwest Native Americans liked to spend time at Hospital Rock and plan to take a picnic lunch. We did and were very glad to have seen this beautiful area.
Would you take the time to visit Hospital Rock in Sequoia National Park if you had the chance?
Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks lie just to the north of Sequoia National Park with Death Valley just to the east. Great playground of National Parks!
© 2011 Peggy Woods