National Geographic : 1952 Sep
1 a . STATUTE MILES St 1 O Railroads MI C O M C Highways - I 400 Drawn by Irvin E. Alleman Archeology's Blythe-Ripley Area Is Familiar Terrain to Air Force Pilots Air Rescue Service planes searching for Indian effigies took off from California's March Air Force Base, climbed through San Gorgonio Pass, then droned eastward to Blythe. In 1902 an ethnologist discovered the Maricopa Indians near Sacaton, Arizona, using a giant effigy outlined in gravel as a shrine. The National Geographic-Smithsonian expedition of 1951 found similar figures executed by Indians along the lower Colorado. female effigy at Site No. 3 Blythe. It is 170 feet 9 inches long, and its outflung arms measure 158 feet 1 inch (pages 389, 398). Several features distinguish this latter figure. It has exaggerated elbows and knees, rather well-defined fingers and toes, an abdomen slightly distended on the right side, an elon gated neck, and quartzite stones to represent eyes, nose, mouth, and breasts. Perhaps the figure's most striking adorn ment consists of six strands of hair on one side of its head and seven on the other. These extend 39 feet 6 inches to the right, and 45 feet 11 inches to the left. The other types of figure proved to be on the same huge scale. The quadruped at Site No. 3 turned out to be 53 feet long and 43 feet 10 inches tall (pages 389, 398). One of the larger formations of circles and other insignia is 296 feet long. A New Set of Giants Found Having duly noted these and other data about the Blythe figures, we turned even more eagerly to a new find. Peacock and Stewart, on a reconnaissance flight over the Black Mesa sector, east of Blythe, had confirmed the existence of effigies hitherto unknown. Backtracking to Blythe, we inquired about possible roads leading to the area. Assured that there was a dry-season road which would bring us fairly close to our objective, we set out along U. S. Highway 70, with the heli copter flying "cover" for us. Just across the Colorado River, in Arizona, we drove south along the Cibola Road. From the hovering copter, Peacock and Stewart directed us by radio. Finally we came to a high bluff overlooking the Colo rado and the flat irrigated fields on the other bank, with the town of Ripley off to the west. "Figures are right ahead of you," said Stewart over the intercom. "Maybe so," I radioed back, "but we won't know it till we stub our toes on 'em." Presently I caught sight of a faint ridge, then another furrow, and another. We had arrived (pages 392, 393, 403). But from the ground we still could not tell just what we were looking at. There were three distinct groups; we could decipher that much. It was apparent that some of the figures had been made by scraping and others by treading down the gravel. To get an accurate idea of all the markings, how ever, I had to get up in the air.