Painted Rock (23OS5)

A pictograph (painted rock art) site along the Osage River was noted as early as 1882 and visited by Gerald Fowke in 1906 - 1907. His fieldwork in Missouri was sponsored by the St. Louis Society of the Archaeological Institute of America.


Fowke's brief description of the site appears in the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 37 that was published in 1910. The Archaeological Survey of Missouri report on the site indicates that the weathering of the bluff face had resulted in the loss of an image of an "Indian Maiden" by the 1940s.



I relocated the site during November 2007 and confirm one prominent, red painted image located approximately 5 meters above a narrow ledge along the bluff face. Fowke (1910:81-82) reported that the site included "a so-called 'buffalo,' a design resembling a man with upraised arms, and several others too nearly obliterated to venture a guess as to their meaning."



Digital image of the pictograph that was been greatly enlarged (with exaggerated contrast) to give maximum definition to the image.



DStretch image using the YRE enhancement. The DStretch plugin to the ImageJ program was written by Jon Harman for rock art researchers who wish to enhance images of pictographs. In this case, the DStretch image does not provide significant new insight.



The red painted image somewhat resembles a bison when viewed from the Osage River (approximaly 100 meters away), but looks less like a bison when viewed at the distance of 10 meters. It could be a dappled fawn (immature white-tailed deer) if it is to be interpreted as animal. It could also be a representation of a medicine bundle. The site is briefly discussed by Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:14-15).

I estimate that the painted image measures approximately 20 inches (50 cm) in length by 13 inches (33 cm) in height. It can not be safely reached without a tall ladder, so my measurements are only estimates. The 1882 reference, quoted in Fowke (1910:81), describes the buffalo image as 15 inches long and 8 or 9 inches high.






Two views of the Osage River in the general vicinity of the site. Painted Rock is located on property administered by the Missouri Department of Conservation. The site IS NOT accessible to the public because of the extreme risks of drowning, falling rocks and poisonous snakes.



Special thanks to Neathery Fuller and Amira Fuller who patiently waited for hours while I relocated this site

Diaz-Granados, Carol and James R. Duncan
2000 The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

Fowke, Gerard
1910 Antiquities of Central and Southeastern Missouri. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 37.





Webpage constructed 25 November 2006
Webpage updated 15 February 2014