- Associated Press - Saturday, March 12, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Park rangers at Lake Powell have built a steel cage around a historic inscription that is Utah’s oldest known physical evidence of non-Indian people.

The National Park Service has installed a heave-duty structure to keep modern graffiti away from the writing by a legendary Spanish expedition in 1776, The Deseret News reported (https://bit.ly/1MeqJif ).

“I think it’s really unfortunate that we should have to put a fence up here,” said Erik Stanfield of the National Park Service.

The Spanish inscription, which translates to “passed through here, this year 1776,” was found in 2006 about 25 miles up Lake Powell from the Glen Canyon Dam. The inscription is covered by modern markings made by boaters on Lake Powell and is now more easily seen through computer-enhanced images.

“Actually you can see ‘Rob and Kathi’ carved right over the top of it,” Stanfield said.

National Park officials believe it was written by an expedition led by Spanish priests Father Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante, who were trying to find a route from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Monterey, California. The expedition is memorialized by a mural in the Utah State Capitol and a statue at This Is the Place Heritage Park.

The priests traveled across much of what is now Utah, but they ultimately gave up because of bad weather, heading back to Santa Fe instead of making it to California. When the expedition ran into the Colorado River, historical documents show the priests thought it was an insurmountable barrier. They finally crossed at what is now known as “The Crossing of the Fathers” in Padre Bay.

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Information from: Deseret News, https://www.deseretnews.com


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