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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Kermit in Winkler County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Blue Mountain

(Elevation 3,500 ft.)

 
 
Blue Mountain Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard Denney, 1980
1. Blue Mountain Marker
Inscription. Original Marker – See photo #1

Projection of Staked Plains. Winkler County's highest point. Lookout and landmark for red men and whites. Indians found here fuel, sheltering caves and water. Left artifacts and 138 mortar holes for grinding food. On cave walls bragged of their prowess as horse wranglers, hunters, fishermen by using crushed stone paints to make pictographs 4 inches high. Also gave story of a fight between two lizards. A directional sign told of a water-hole 9 days by trail to the northeast. Pass is called Avary Gap, for John Avary, first settler, 1880.

Replacement Marker – See photo #2

Blue Mountain
(4.5 mi N)


Winkler County's highest point (3400 Ft.), “Blue Mountain” is actually not a mountain, but is instead the southern escarpment of the Llano Estacado. The site has long served as a lookout and landmark on the west Texas plains, as well as a dependable location for fuel, shelter and water. A 1938 Archeological excavation of rock shelters located along the ridge of the feature unveiled signs of prolonged occupation, such as mortar holes and pictographs on the shelters' walls, including images of human hands, serpents, horses and geometric patterns. A spring that once flowed near the rock shelter has become dry due
Blue Mountain Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, November 11, 2017
2. Blue Mountain Marker
to the lowering of the underground water table.
 
Erected 1964 by Texas State Historical Survey Committee. (Marker Number 439.)
 
Location. 31° 53.587′ N, 102° 51.456′ W. Marker is near Kermit, Texas, in Winkler County. Marker is on State Highway 302 14 miles from State Route 18, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. From Kermit, take SH 302 East about 14 miles. Marker is in this post office area: Kermit TX 79745, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 2 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Notrees (approx. 6.2 miles away); The Sand Hills (approx. 7.9 miles away).
 
More about this marker. Photo of marker was taken in 1980. That marker has, I believe, been replaced with a new marker, sans bullet holes, and with slightly re-worded text that reads: "Blue Mountain (4.5 Mi. North), Winkler County's highest point (3500 ft.), Blue Mountain has long served as a lookout and landmark on the west Texas plains. Here Indians found fuel, sheltering caves, and water. They left artifacts in the caves and pictographs on the cave walls that boasted their prowess as horse wranglers, hunters, and fishermen. A directional sign told of a water hole nine days by trail to the northeast.
Blue Mountain Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, November 11, 2017
3. Blue Mountain Marker
Pictographs also told the story of a fight between two lizards.
The pass is called Avary Gap for John Avary, who first settled the area in 1880."
 
Also see . . .
1. Blue Mountain, Handbook of Texas Online. (Submitted on August 16, 2009, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas.)
2. Jim Cook, Handbook of Texas Online. The interpretations of Jim Cook (captive of Comanches as a boy) of the Blue Mountain pictographs are often cited, including in Kirkland and Forrest's book. The accuracy of those interpretations is often questioned however. (Submitted on August 17, 2009, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. State of pictographs
Even in 1980 the pictographs were in very bad condition. Those interested are referred to Kirkland & Newcomb's book, "The Rock Art of Texas Indians" which includes watercolors of the pictographs done in the 1930s.
    — Submitted August 16, 2009, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas.

2. Camping memories from Blue Mountain
My buddies and I camped under the main overhang six or seven times between 1967 and 1970. We were very careful to not harm the petroglyphs--we stood in awe of them and wondered what the meant. A couple of morons had already spray painted their
Blue Mountain Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, November 11, 2017
4. Blue Mountain Marker
View west on Texas highway 302
names on top of the Indian's paintings. We called the mortar holes metate holes, the Spanish name. Where a big chunk of rock broke off centuries ago there is an easy stepdown to the camping area under the overhang. The flint knappers would sit and look over the lowland watching for game and manufacturing new projectile points. There is no natural flint close by, but that spot was ankle deep in flint flakes. Most people don't know it, but their is a second smaller campsite and overhang not quite a mile around the curve of the caprock. From the top of the first site, on a clear day you can see the mountains in Mexico to the south.
    — Submitted May 9, 2014, by Doug Macfarline of Fort Worth, Texas.

 
Additional keywords. Pictographs Llano Estacado (or Staked Plains)
 
Categories. AnthropologyNative AmericansNotable Places
 
Mortar Holes (foreground) image. Click for full size.
By Richard Denney, 1980
5. Mortar Holes (foreground)
Mortar holes in ledge (foreground). Cave shelter where pictographs are located is in background.
Mortar Holes Above Shelter image. Click for full size.
By Richard Denney, 1980
6. Mortar Holes Above Shelter
Another set of mortar holes on the ledge over cave shelter.
Blue Mountain Marker image. Click for full size.
By Doug Macfarline, June 4, 1969
7. Blue Mountain Marker
This is about 10 miles from Blue Mountain. Note the blue line at the horizon, that is Blue Mountain looming up in the summer haze. Thus the name. The caprock (that high ground) at it's maximum is only 300 feet higher than the basin floor.
Blue Mountain, on top of the overhang. image. Click for full size.
By Doug Macfarline, 1969
8. Blue Mountain, on top of the overhang.
My friend, Buddy Myers, pointing out a row of metate holes. You can see the basin floor in the background.
Kirkland & Newcomb's Book Provides Guide to Pictographs image. Click for full size.
By Richard Denney, 1980
9. Kirkland & Newcomb's Book Provides Guide to Pictographs
Rock art enthusiasts use a copy of Kirkland & Newcomb's book, "The Rock Art of Texas Indians" as a guide to the pictographs at Blue Mountain.
Mortar Hole Closeup image. Click for full size.
By Richard Denney, 1980
10. Mortar Hole Closeup
This closeup of a mortar hole provides an idea of the typical depth.
Inside Cave Shelter image. Click for full size.
By Richard Denney, 1980
11. Inside Cave Shelter
Cave shelters aren't "caves" in the sense commonly thought. This picture provides a look under one of the cave shelter overhangs, providing an idea of the real depth of these "caves".
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 30, 2017. This page originally submitted on August 16, 2009, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas. This page has been viewed 1,875 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on August 16, 2009, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas.   2, 3, 4. submitted on November 16, 2017, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona.   5, 6. submitted on August 16, 2009, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas.   7. submitted on July 20, 2015, by Doug Macfarline of Fort Worth, Texas.   8. submitted on September 27, 2015, by Doug Macfarline of Fort Worth, Texas.   9, 10, 11. submitted on August 16, 2009, by Richard Denney of Austin, Texas. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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