Lovelock Cave

Lovelock Cave was intermittently occupied by Native Americans from approximately 3,500 years ago until the middle of the 19th century. It is considered by archaeologists to be one of the most important sites in the history of North American archaeology. Unfortunately, in the first decades of the 20th century guano miners removed some 250 tons of material, shipped to a fertilizer company with little regard for the reported “several thousand specimens” of human skeletal remains and cultural artifacts it contained. In later scientific investigations one of the most important discoveries was a cache of canvasback duck decoys, made of marsh grass called tule. Most specimens even had feathers attached. The virtual-reality tule decoy featured here (click on its hotspot) was created from a modern reproduction.

Many archaeologists believe that the Lovelock Culture was replaced by Northern Paiutes a thousand years ago. The Paiutes have an oral tradition describing the defeat of foes, the Saiduka, who lived within their territory, near lakes and marshes. They speak of a great battle leading to the extermination of the Saiduka which occurred at Lovelock Cave.
During the era of western immigration the area below the cave, which was then a vast wetland known as Big Meadows, would be filled with oxen fattening up before their trek through the Forty Mile Desert.
 

Click here to see the location in Google Maps

Tule decoy reproduction created by Mike Williams, used courtesy Scott Klette. Click here to see the virtual-reality duck decoy in full resolution.

 

    4 Responses to “Lovelock Cave”

    1. Dave says:

      Hello Susan,

      It is pretty evident the amount of creosote on the roof of the cave could only be produced by burning several tons of wood over an extended period of time. If you have been there you must have noticed the entire ceiling is coated. In regards to “cave art” there has never been any mention of it existing in the Lovelock cave. It would be pointless to draw pictures on the wall of a cave you use for cooking your food in.

    2. Valerie Summers says:

      I’ve noticed a few other cave sites near Fallon that have change drastically over the last 4 years. The cave art is barely visible now due to people touching the cave walls and burning modern day fires. The disrespect for our local history is saddening.

    3. Dave says:

      Finaly had a chance to check out the cave a few days ago. Definately worth the trip. I could still smell the smoke from the ancient fires that had been burned in the cave which is amazing as it has not been used for a thousand years.

      The entire ceiling of the cave is coated with the residue of smoke, exactly as a person finds in an old brick chimney. I would like to see the results of an analysis of the soot, if one has been done, to determine the type of wood burned in the cave. That would help determine the time frame of its use.

      • Susan LaBuda says:

        The smoke smell when I visited,in 1993,had no ancient date because the bag of charcoal briquets and aluminum grill were still in evidence.
        Sad, some people would view a priceless treasure like Lovelock Cave as just one more place to trash.
        At Grimes Point, out of Fallon, the most wonderful cave now lies behind a heavy steel door, open once a month, only, if you tour under the auspices and with the Museum staff. I think that’s a perfect idea for LC also.


    Leave a Reply

    Copyright © 2014 All Around Nevada.