Every week, Oregon Experience shares a photo highlighting the state’s diverse, exciting history. All photos are courtesy of The Oregon Historical Society.
During the 1930s, University of Oregon archaeologist Dr. Luther Cressman led grueling expeditions around the Oregon Outback searching for signs of the earliest humans in the Americas. Using a sociological technique of the day, he wrote letters to U.S. postmasters inquiring about indigenous rock art. Postmasters were very knowledgeable about their rural communities, and their suggestions often steered Cressman to likely rock-art sites.
Over a period of three years, Cressman and a fellow researcher documented petroglyphs and pictographs in 60 sites across the state. Cressman thought his work had uncovered most of Oregon’s rock art.
However, Cressman’s successors working in the field today estimate there are 1,000 rock-art sites in Lake County alone. More than 70 years ago, the postmaster of Paisley pointed the “Father of Oregon Archaeology” in the right direction.
To learn more about the University of Oregon archaeologist’s groundbreaking discoveries, watch the Oregon Experience documentary “Luther Cressman, Quest For First People.”