About 700 years ago the Fremont Indians lived in cliff tops settlements, in a remote canyon
that is now known as Range Creek. Around 1250 AD things went south for the Fremont. Within
the space of a century, their culture had all but disappeared. Leaving behind arrows scattered on
the ground, and corn and rye remaining in their granary's. The disappearance of the Fremont Indians
has become one of North American archaeology's biggest mysteries. In between the Rockies
and the Sierra Nevada the group thrived for 600 year, they were adaptable and surprisingly
diverse. They lived in both rock shelters and semi subterranean "pit houses". They farmed and
used hunting and foraging to supply their food.
Recently unveiled this year, the Range Creek site holds important clues. The ruins aren't as
spectacular as their neighbors to the south the master-builder Anasazis. Still, Range Creek is
amazingly pristine and should provide and rare window into the lives of these people.
Due to it's remote location, it has eluded the threat of looters and the excavations of
archaeologists. A local farmer had guarded the site for over half a century, until selling it in 2001
for $2.5 million. Being 34 miles from the nearest paved road, and it's high inaccessibility helped
to preserve the site.
"Researchers have just begun surveying the canyon, but already the ruins are raising
tantalizing questions" said archaeologist Jerry Spangler, author of a recent book on the Fremont
called Horned Snakes and Axle Grease. The remains of a few pit houses are 30 feet in diameter,
that's three times larger than the typical Fremont pit house. Many had long thought the Fremont
were simple farmers who lived in small family groups. But these "mini mansions suggest that
some lived with extended families or had strong enough bonds to live communally with other families.
Range Creek may also reveal more about the...