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The secret of the Stone Lion Shrine

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posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 11:18 AM
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There really is one place of great historic value that our government, universities and various tribes, would prefer to keep 'Above Top Secret' … and in this particular case I agree that silence is necessary to preserve this National Treasure from vandals.


Why I'm going to share this secret with you now, is what 'It is' is rather well known, but where 'It is' ....few well tell... other than to say, to get there you would have to be a highly skilled rock-climber.

By my title you know I am talking about a massive “estimated to weigh 1,000 pounds”, Stone Lion. He sits high on the broad flat crest of a steep walled mesa near Bandelier National Monument... Later I will tell you where you can see and touch his two brother stone lions if your up for a bit of hike...


This first one though, the one you cannot visit... has crouched atop his mesa for uncounted centuries. It's long outstretched claws clutching the volcanic slab he was carved from.
Many generations of ancient people visited the shrine surrounding the lion. Making offerings of prayers and turquoise. Standing beside this stone lion are a pair of tall monoliths, early unimaginative anthropologists claimed the two rock pillars were phallic erections pointing up at the sky as part of some fertility ritual? Of course they probably never stood there in person. To me at least it looks more like a gateway?


Anyway on March 7th 1970 this Stone Lion was abducted by a team from the University of New Mexico Anthropology Department. A friend of my father's was part of that team and he was always quick to tell how. “That ole lion wasn't about to go quietly”.

Anthropologist Elmer 'Swede' Scholer was apparently the first victim. On the climb up he fell headlong down the slope, a bolder right on his heels. Smashed his legs, punctured his calf, had to be carried off the mountain and taken to town for medical treatment. Later, the team who was driving down to Albuquerque to get the helicopter ran out of gas half way there but the fuel gauge said they had a full tank? Sadly they hitched a ride and got to the airport anyway. There were other minor mishaps but the old cats last attempt to stay put, happened as a the helicopter was lowering the Lion into to that back of a flatbed truck. The release was tripped early nearly squishing a man who was trying to guide the old cat into the back of the truck. Missed by millimeters...


The original plan was to put the stone Lion on display at the Maxwell Museum in Albuquerque where he could be preserved and protected... That never happened.


When word got out that the Lion was removed the people of the San Felipe Pueblo were furious! Claiming the relic was theirs and the Cochiti tribal council had no right to give permission to take their Lion... and of course the Cochiti people who had no idea what the council had done got pissed off too... and thus started a decade long legal battle for return of said artifact.

That didn't happen until 1981 and the passage of the Native American Religious Freedom Act. The Stone Lion was indeed returned to it shrine. His home where right now he sleeps under a soft blanket of snow...

Today this stone Lion is one of three known prehistoric bas-relief carvings made by North American Natives. Lost to time is the who and why.

The Lions only threat is hick’s with guns who think it's cool to take potshots at and defacing national treasures... teens wielding cans of spray paint who have no respect for anything … and persons like the boyscout troop leader AKA Mister “Watch me knock over this big old rock!” and post it on YouTube...

Those of us who care about preservation will not tell you where the shrine is... confident that most folks will not attempt the dangerous climb while remembering past harms done to irreplaceable treasures.

Okay so Maybe it's not truly 'Above Top Secret' but the Stone Lion safety lays in keeping obscure, the location to his shrine. If you do find him with something like Google earth, please, share that only with those you trust to do no harm.

So while “I” will not tell you how to get to that shrine, I will tell where to visit his brothers, who are well protected by the US National Park Service in Bandelier National Monument.

You start at the park headquarters off of State Highway 30 in the State of New Mexico. Now there are two ways to get there and if you go... go prepared for a hard hike...
Bandelier is at a comparatively high elevation, ranging from about 5600' (1700 meters) at the Rio Grande up to over 8000' (2400 meters) in the mountains.

The first way I do “Not” recommend. The Frijoles Trail along the Rio Grande. See that trail runs along Cochiti Lake and the river... so when the water levels raise the trail comes to an abrupt end. Still a pretty hike, but... Best to ask at headquarters if the trail is passable before you try.

The way you should go is by taking the Frijoles-Stone Lions Shrine Trail. The trail is well marked and kept in good condition but it is quite the hike.

From headquarters it starts off towards the northwest for about 4.5 miles then turns southwest as it enters Alamo Canyon. A mile later you've turned southeast as you exit the canyon and have only another mile and a half of up and down terrain to get to the Lions.

An 'Arduous' trek for those who are not regular back country hikers but still worth the trip. After all Bandelier National Monument is one of those places you should visit at least once in your life. Of course while your there you totally have to check out the Cliff-Dwellings too!


Source: my personal experiences as well as having a dad who recently retired as a Dean over at UNM. Who not only loved to share his stories of the Southwest but often took us kids to places you only hear about in legions and old half forgotten stories.
BTW he's still an avid Mountaineer and back-country hiker... This coming spring we plan on taking my girls out to Mesa Verde just outside of town and if and of you happen to be in my part of the world come April, let me know, we'd be glad to have you join us.

Bandelier web site
edit on 30-12-2013 by HardCorps because: (no reason given)
edit on 30-12-2013 by HardCorps because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 11:51 AM
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What an amazing thread! Thank you so much for sharing this, and your fathers story! Did he, or anyone else, take a picture of the lion? I would love to see it.
Honestly, I'm glad your choosing not to tell the location. Your right, there are too many idiots that destroy such treasures.
Personally, shooting them with my camera makes me happiest.



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 12:05 PM
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reply to post by HardCorps
 


Lovely thread. Thanks for sharing what you felt necessary. It looks a lovely place, even without the lions. Wouldn't catch me going in the dwellings alone though.



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 12:07 PM
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reply to post by chiefsmom
 


The photos my dad took would still be at the Maxwell Museum in the archive room... there was supposed to be this huge exhibit... but once the legal battle started everything was left packed up in a warehouse... until the courts could decide who had the rights to what...

Other than the Stone Lion all the little bits of pot shards, beads, photos and records are still there and as far as I know they still allow non-UNM students, to by special request, examine what they have in back...
just remember to include the date March 7th 1970... the man who fell down the mountain...Anthropologist Elmer 'Swede' Scholer... He was the project head and lead researcher. so include his name too if you ever make a request

edit on 30-12-2013 by HardCorps because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 12:12 PM
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MissBeck
reply to post by HardCorps
 


Wouldn't catch me going in the dwellings alone though.


If you come to Mesa Verde with us... I'm sure my daughters will hold your hand...
My six year old is quite brave you know... unless she runs into anything icky or gross or stinky or slimy or squirmy or smelly...

winks



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 12:12 PM
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reply to post by HardCorps
 

What i have read, is that the two rock slaps we see on the pic's are the stone lion's (they are twin's).



Stone Lions Shrine is a pair of mountain lions (if you use your imagination) carved from rock buried in the ground.

Click me
edit on 30-12-2013 by Mianeye because: (no reason given)



During a personal visit to Bandelier about 25 – 30 years ago I was thrilled to find a pair of reproductions of the stone lions next to the visitor’s center. Obviously some early researcher had made molds from the original stone lions and later done castings of them which were used in that display. Although they lacked the ring of surrounding boulders they show the life-sized sculptures of the two stone lions in seemingly perfect detail.


Click this one to
edit on 30-12-2013 by Mianeye because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 12:18 PM
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Mianeye
reply to post by HardCorps
 

What i have read, is that the two rock slaps we see on the pic's are the stone lion's (they are twin's).



Stone Lions Shrine is a pair of mountain lions (if you use your imagination) carved from rock buried in the ground.

Click me
edit on 30-12-2013 by Mianeye because: (no reason given)


Should have clicked on the one by Travel Schlepps

True, there is a well-known Stone Lions Shrine just north in Bandelier National Monument with its two famous carved lions, but this is a single lion shrine. The ancestors of Cochiti Pueblo no doubt carved this remarkable work and set up the stone ring around it. They set the standing stones in place.


He posted his blog back in 07



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 12:26 PM
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reply to post by HardCorps
 


I see, there are two sites aparently, one is secret one is not.

I re read your post and see that you do mention the two lion's site, and the pic's are of those.

It's cool, my bad



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 12:29 PM
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reply to post by Mianeye
 


Naw... it's my bad if I wasn't more clear about there being two sites...
one is in a national park and the other tribal lands...



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 12:52 PM
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reply to post by HardCorps
 


I see a Teddy bear but no lion.
Actually I see the stone lion. Thanks for the pics and does anyone else see the Teddy bear?



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 12:59 PM
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reply to post by mikelkhall
 


I added another photo


looks more lion like from the back end...

Edit to add... This photo...these two are the reproductions ...plaster cast cats... you can see out front near the parking lot to the main park entrance.
edit on 30-12-2013 by HardCorps because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 01:46 PM
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HardCorps
reply to post by mikelkhall
 


I added another photo


looks more lion like from the back end...

Edit to add... This photo...these two are the reproductions ...plaster cast cats... you can see out front near the parking lot to the main park entrance.
edit on 30-12-2013 by HardCorps because: (no reason given)


Are you sure those are the reproductions?


During a personal visit to Bandelier about 25 – 30 years ago I was thrilled to find a pair of reproductions of the stone lions next to the visitor’s center. Obviously some early researcher had made molds from the original stone lions and later done castings of them which were used in that display. Although they lacked the ring of surrounding boulders they show the life-sized sculptures of the two stone lions in seemingly perfect detail. The original lions are carved from volcanic tuff which is relatively soft so they have eroded somewhat, and this was faithfully reproduced in the copies. You can see the features however of very leonine heads, bodies, and tails.

I have recently been informed that these reproductions were subsequently destroyed by park officials because of complaints from Pueblo peoples that having them where tourists could see them was sacriligous.


That's from Peter Faris's Rock Art Blog and here is the accompanying picture he took of the reproductions:



He references another blog, Travel Schlepp's Dispatches, where the author describes another lion shrine which is what I think you're referring to:


True, there is a well-known Stone Lions Shrine just north in Bandelier National Monument with its two famous carved lions, but this is a single lion shrine. The ancestors of Cochiti Pueblo no doubt carved this remarkable work and set up the stone ring around it. They set the standing stones in place.

Apparently, in years past, the University of New Mexico used a helicopter to remove the lion to the Maxwell Museum, but protests caused it to be returned. I wonder if that is when the tail went missing?


and finally, here are the pictures the blogger took from that shrine:




Thank you for bringing this site to our attention--very cool!



posted on Dec, 30 2013 @ 01:48 PM
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reply to post by HardCorps
 


There are some strange bas relief carvings up on Guadalupe Mesa above Jemez spgs.
Pajarito mesa is a majic place!



posted on Jan, 3 2014 @ 09:17 AM
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Excellent thread. New Mexico has many of these hidden and unknown treasures. I always enjoy hearing about them. It would be easy to spend a lifetime exploring this state and never see it all.





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