|This half-day hike serves up one of the
strangest objectives in the park. Some early worker in the Joshua
Tree area named John Samuelson spent considerable time carving the
wisdom of a lifetime into eight stone tablets. These tablets are
located an easy 1.3mi's from the main road that
goes through the park.
In 1927, Samuelson had a passionate agenda and must have had a burning
desire to enlighten the world so he set out to carve these serious
thoughts into stone. But Samuelson had a few handicaps:
- He was Swedish and didn't speak English very well.
- His spelling is even worse than mine... and spell checkers for
stone tablets didn't exist in 1927.
- Cross-outs and redo's on rock is very hard to accomplish.
Nevertheless, Samuelson was apparently determined... or bored... and
spent countless hours meticulously carving each letter on eight stones
located miles from anywhere. The tablets are distributed over a
100yd diameter area amongst a pile of other rocks comprising a 30ft high
The best plan of attack, once you've found the rock mound where
Samuelson did his work, is to fan out to locate the inscribed
stones. Once a stone-writing is found, the group should come
back together to decode the meaning. It's more fun as a group
activity. You'll need good knowledge of turn-of-the-century
history, politics and religion in order to be successful.
The following photo essay will attempt to present the words just as
Samuelson carved them and then make a stab at interpreting the meaning
of each. The viewer is invited to join in the fun and provide his
own meaning. I'd like to hear
from you if you have an alternate reading of Samuelson's message.