After years of exploring what he calls Rattlesnake Rock south of Lovelock, Kevin Condon was surprised to discover something he hadn’t noticed before in a photo of himself and a friend. Faint, unnatural scratches on the rock wall behind them were hard to miss in the photograph.
“We didn’t even see the petroglyphs when we were there. All the times I’ve come up to this rock, I’ve never seen those. Then we’re at home looking at the pictures and there they are,” Condon laughed. “It’s like tripping over a bowling ball.”
The “glyphs” are circles and lines carved in a wall of tufa. The style contrasts with the hard, straight lines of someone’s initials carved nearby on the same wall. The glyphs are not far from the road to the Lovelock Caves that scientists say were occupied more than 2,000 years ago.
Condon, an agile 69-year-old, revisited the site of his discovery. The glyphs were carved on a wall of tufa deposited thousands of years ago when Lake Lahontan submerged the rocky ridge.
“It’s one of the most beautiful rocks in Pershing County. Look at the tufa formations,” he said.
Condon has his own hunch on the meaning of a wavy line with circles carved into the rock.
“I’ve never been anywhere in the state of Nevada where I’ve seen as many as rattlesnakes as here,” he said. “One of the petroglyphs looks like a person with a snake coming out of his head.”
A rural heaven
In the 1960s, his love of birds and lizards brought the former falconer to the Lovelock Valley where raptors are a common sight — especially red tail hawks and great horned owls, if you know where to look. Other raptors come and go, including falcons, kestrels and golden eagles.
Now, the tree service owner would rather look for petrified wood, geodes, jasper, agates, opal and rhyolite. Condon would not reveal all his favorite rockhounding areas in Pershing County.
A prairie falcon trying to avoid pesky humans on a road near Lovelock brought back memories.
“I’ve bred prairie falcons, peregrine falcons and merlins,” he said. “I had a peregrine that went to the breeding project at Santa Cruz. It bred birds that were put in aeries all over the state of California. Peregrines have recovered and now they’re a menace to falconers.”
Condon said he enjoys the public land in Nevada that he said is disappearing in California.
“Where we live, it’s all private property, here it’s all BLM land,” he said. “Here, you don’t have to knock on somebody’s door and beg them to let you go on their property. You can just park your car alongside the road and walk.”
As he searched the Lovelock Valley for nesting great horned owls, Condon was amazed once again by the lack of cars as he made a u-turn on Arobio Road, one the “busiest” streets, he said.
“You wouldn’t do this where I live. I tell people in Lovelock, be careful what you wish for,” he said. “Pershing County is larger than many states and has one stoplight. To me, it’s heaven.”
Like the Lovelock Caves, Condon thinks the petroglyphs could bring visitors to the area.
“They should be a part of Lovelock. There could be people that know where they are, they just didn’t want to tell anybody,” he said. “I thought I might as well as show people these petroglyphs before somebody else does.”