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Glass Buttes Day Trip

  • 17 Oct 2022
  • 8:30 AM
  • 6


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Trip Recap

There is Obsidian everywhere. Sixteen ASCO members headed to Glass Buttes on a sunny fall day to learn about knapping from Ryan Griffin, BLM Archaeologist in Prineville. Also joining from the Prinevlle Forest Service office were Ellis Codd, Cindy Caddell and Carson King. As Ryan began his knapping demonstration, he spoke to the long history of Glass Buttes being a premier source of obsidian with one Glass Buttes-sourced artifact found at Paisley being dated to 14,000 years. He spoke to the area being a Traditional Cultural Property and issues around protection and collection. Using traditional tools such as a quartzite hammer stone and a deer antler, he demonstrated percussion flaking and pressure flaking. His ability to successively transform an irregular piece of obsidian into a point was fascinating to watch. ASCO member, Bob TImmer, then spoke to the properties of obsidian, the regional significance of the High Lava Plains, and the origin of the volcanic rocks exposed at Glass Buttes. After lunch , members hiked up and along the ridge north of Little Glass Butte to collect some silver sheen, gold sheen, and even some fire obsidian.  

Photos by Scott McKenzie

Glass Buttes Day Trip

With Flint knapping workshop by Ryan Griffin, BLM Archaeologist, and geology overview by Bob Timmer, ASCO member

Monday, October 17, 2022

For at least fourteen millennia Glass Buttes, one of the largest obsidian sources in Oregon, has been a source of high quality toolstone for Native American flintknappers (Stueber & Skinner, 2017),  In the last century nonnative historic and modern flintknappers as well as rock hounds have also used this resource for its abundant, colorful and high quality obsidian. 

We will meet on Monday, October 17th, at 8:30 AM in the parking lot between Walgreens and Wilco just southeast of the intersection of Highway 20 & 27th street. Those who voluntarily wish to carpool can do so and there is usually parking available on the street along the east side of the parking lot if you wish to leave a vehicle. 

We will then head west on highway 20 towards Burns; stopping at the Brothers Rest Area (mile 41) as there are no facilities at Glass Buttes. We will continue east on highway 20 and turn RIGHT onto a gravel road at mile 77 (watch for the mile 76 sign). There, we will gather in the gravel parking area just inside the cattle guard for an overview of Glass Buttes.

After the overview, we will drive about 2 miles on a graded gravel road to one of the pull-off areas in the canyon between the main obsidian exposures to the east and the flank of Glass Butte. There, Ryan Griffin, BLM archaeologist will speak to its significance and show us how Native Americans crafted it into tools and Bob Timmer will tell us how it got there. You might want to bring a folding chair to watch the demonstration and geology overview. Click HERE for a copy of the geology overview

After lunch members can choose to take a rock hounding map (click HERE) to collect obsidian on their own. Please be aware that many of the roads departing from the main gravel road require a high-clearance vehicle and that you'll be driving over obsidian. For others, if there is interest, we can take a hike up one of the roads onto the ridge to collect obsidian and thus avoid driving on the rough and obsidian-rich roads.

Bring: Water, hat, sun glasses, sack lunch, and good shoes or boots (there is obsidian everywhere!). Also leather gloves, eye protection, hammer, collection bag, and band-aids if you are going to collect obsidian

The NOAA forecast for Glass Buttes on Monday is Sunny with a high of 72. 

Please do not participate if you are experiencing Covid symptoms, have tested positive for Covid, or have had contact with someone with Covid or with symptoms within the preceding week.

Questions, contact Bob TImmer, Trip Coordinator, at bobtimmer@yahoo.com

Mailing address: PO Box 8146 Bend, Oregon 97708-8146

Email: ascoinfomail@gmail.com

"Archaeological Society of Central Oregon" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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