Legends of Mount Shasta: “The Abode of the Devil” Part 4 – Investigating the Castle Crags Petroglyphs
In the previous articles about Mount Shasta's J.C. Brown mystery, we explored the prehistoric lore of the area, which at face-value could suggest that Brown's claim of discovering a cave containing the skeletons of prehistoric giants and antiquated relics could in some sense be based on an actual discovery.
As is the case with any enduring legend, details are embellished and exaggerated. But there are cases of historical legends which have been later validated by unexpected discoveries.
Brown's story is in some detail substantiated by Native American legends of a giant race who allegedly lived and traveled in underground tunnels throughout the Castle Crags region; the giant's civilization was said to have been destroyed in a catastrophic Flood, which is believed to have occurred around the end of the last Ice Age.
During my years of researching the legend, one of the clues I found that I believe may tie into the mystery is a mysterious set of petroglyphs carved into granite boulders along a creekside in a very remote section of the Castle Crags wilderness, a region which lies outside of the public trails, and is usually only explored by backcountry hikers and rock climbers.
“Location of the petroglyph site hidden in a secluded are of the Castle Crags wilderness.” Photograph © Dustin Naef 2016
AN UNUSUAL DISCOVERY IN THE CASTLE CRAGS WILDERNESS BELIEVED TO SUPPORT THEORIES THAT MOUNT SHASTA WAS ONCE PART OF THE LOST CONTINENT OF LEMURIA
Sometime in the 1940s, two high school boys from Dunsmuir were hiking along the creek when they made an unusual discovery. They found a series of mystic carvings chiseled into large granite boulders scattered along the creekside. Some of the carvings were painted over with handprints, using some kind of reddish pigment which has long since faded away.
The boys related their discovery to a man named Frank Bascom, who dabbled in geology and archeology, and who was associated with the U.S. Forest Service. The boys led Bascom back up to the site and more strange petroglyphs were discovered.
- Legends of Mount Shasta: “The Abode of the Devil” Part I – The Legend of J.C. Brown
- Legends of Mount Shasta: The Abode of the Devil Part 2 – Castle Crags: Fortress of Giants
- Legends of Mount Shasta: “The Abode of the Devil” Part 3 – Prehistoric Traditions of Giants and Mysterious Beings, Part One
Bascom was certain that they had stumbled across an important archeological site, and reported the find to the Forest Service, which sent a group of personnel to investigate the petroglyphs. A short time later Bascom wrote about his experiences, stating that he believed the carvings showed a higher degree of artisan skill than anything else he had ever seen.
“This is a large boulder I call the Temple Stone carved with unusual symbols including a Maltese Cross.” Photograph © Dustin Naef 2016
Following news of the discovery of the Crag's petroglyphs came various interpretations and theories.
Bascom was deeply convinced that the carvings were made in the prehistoric era; he pointed out that a number of the same symbols were also noted in James Churchward's books on the Lost Continent of Mu, and believed that the petroglyphs supported theories that Mount Shasta was part of the last remaining fragments of the continent of Lemuria, which broke apart and sunk into the Pacific Ocean.
Most of the details about the Castle Crag's petroglyphs come from old newspaper articles, reprinted in a 1997 book about local legends.
Since their discovery the Castle Crag's petroglyphs have remained a fascinating local mystery.
“A large triangular-shaped boulder features many esoteric symbols which also appear in James Churchward's books on the Lost Continet of Mu.” Photograph © Dustin Naef 2016
ARE THE CASTLE CRAGS PETROGLYPHS REALLY TREASURE SYMBOLS?
When I began investigating the Crags' petroglyph site in 2013 it seemed clear to me that the symbols could not be prehistoric. Even today, a few decades since their discovery, many of them are so faded and worn that it's becoming difficult to discern them at all. The effects of weathering is already eroding them from the surface of the granite boulders.
“The Ankh Stone.” Photograph © Dustin Naef 2016
Since the petroglyphs were discovered in the 1940s they could not have been made by modern spiritualists in the post-hippie era. And while it's true that as far back as the early 1930s Lemurian hoaxes were being perpetuated in Mount Shasta by charlatans, if somebody carved the petroglyphs as some kind of hoax, they never sought to exploit the hoax publicly, or attempted to profit off of it.
Whoever made these petroglyphs had done so secretly, in a remote and little-traveled area of the Castle Crags wilderness.
There was only one other possibility that I could think of that might explain the provenance of the symbols, and that was that they might be what are known as “treasure signs and symbols” in treasure-hunting lore.
- The Lost Treasure of Oak Island and the Centuries-Old Quest to Find It
- Curse of the Buried Pearl: Tomb Curses, Spirits and the Hunt for Ancient Treasures – Part I
- The Lost Treasure of the Beale Ciphers
In lieu of leaving behind any maps or written directions, treasure-hoarders would often mark the secret locations of their hidden mines or buried treasure with cryptic symbols, which were intelligible only to those who knew how to decipher their meanings.
There are many different examples of this kind of subterfuge at play in modern treasure-hunting lore.
The Oak Island Mystery, the Lost Dutchman's mine in Arizona's Superstition mountains, and the heretical mysteries of Renne's Le Chateau are all examples of locations riddled with enigmatic rock carvings and mysterious symbols, which many people believe were created to obfuscate and conceal the location of some fabled lost treasure.
J.C. Brown was known to be a treasure-hunter who chased after these kinds of tales in the days before he claimed to discover the giant skeletons and lost relics, which he believed was evidence that James Churchward's theories about the lost continent of Mu were true, and ostensibly linked to California's mysterious, prehistoric past.
“It was the custom of treasure-seekers to mark the paths back to the locations of their sites with cryptic symbols, which could only be understood by those who had the keys to decode them.” Photograph © Dustin Naef 2016
It's my belief that the Castle Crags petroglyphs were created by J.C. Brown himself, sometime between the years 1904 and 1934, to secretly mark the whereabouts of the giant's tunnel he claimed to discover during a mining expedition he undertook in the Mount Shasta region.
“The mysterious symbols left behind at the petroglyph site relate to the lost continent of Lemuria and Mu, which J.C. Brown was enamored with all his life.” Photograph © Dustin Naef 2016
If there's any truth to the local legend, based on my own interpretations and understanding of the known facts, the Castle Crags wilderness is the mostly logical place that such a discovery would have been made.
Since J.C. Brown mysteriously vanished in 1934, on the night before he was going to lead an expedition up to his clandestine site to reveal the location of the treasures hidden in a tunnel at the base of a cliff, we will probably never know the actual truth—but perhaps these petroglyphs make up part of the framework of Brown's mysterious tale, and may represent one of the only tangible clues he left behind.
Mount Shasta's Legends - The Abode of the Devil (Part Three):
The Castle Crags petroglyph site referenced in this article has rarely ever been photographed or seen, and never filmed before. The final segment of Dustin Naef’s video investigation of this Mount Shasta area legend largely takes place at the petroglyph site, and the remote areas around the Crags wilderness. It's a 40-minute video and explores the subject visually and in more detail; we'll also visit some sites in the adjoining forest which are reputed to be Sasquatch habitats, and contain a number of unusual effigies and tree-built glyphs which many people believe are made by the elusive, forest-dwelling giant.
Top Image: Castle Crags - Photograph © Dustin Naef 2016
By Dustin Naef
Dustin Naef - Mount Shasta's Legends & Forgotten History (2016).
Emily Frank - Mt. Shasta California's Mystic Mountain (1997).