Sand to Snow Natl Monument: Black Lava Butte & Flat Top Mesa History

History : The human history of the Sand to Snow area extends back thousands of years.  People now identified as part of the Takic subset of the large Uto-Aztecan group of Native Americans arrived in the region around 2,500 years ago.  Ancient people of the area used a wide variety of plants from both the mountains and the Mojave desert, such as honey mesquite, oak, piñon, cactus fruits, yucca roots, and tubers as well as grasses, seeds, and berries.  Common tools were made of wood, bone, shell, stone, clay, and plant fibers.  These people also manufactured woven goods, pipes made of stone, awls made of bone, tools associated with archery, and fire drills.  They made coiled basketry and simple undecorated ceramic pots used for storage and transport.

The name "Serrano" was given to people living in the Sand to Snow area by the Spanish missionaries in the late 18th century and translates from Spanish as a "person from the mountains."  In 1834, the Spanish forcibly relocated many Serrano people to the missions.  In 1840 the Serrano suffered a devastating smallpox outbreak, and the disease returned in 1860.  Ruth Benedict, one of the world's foremost cultural anthropologists, studied the Serrano extensively in 1924. However, by this time there were few remaining eastern groups and no old shamans or priests survived.  Today, the rich archaeological resources in this area serve to preserve the history of the Serrano people.  Black Lava Butte, topped by distinctive basaltic lava flows, is sacred to the Serrano Tribe and home to a substantial number of archaeological sites, including evidence of habitation, rock art, and possible ritual activities.  Black Lava Butte contains an estimated 1,700 distinct petroglyphs, most of which have not yet been studied and may provide insight into the history of the Serrano and other tribes in the region.  The mesa also contains dozens of isolated grinding and milling sites and at least one shelter site, where many milling stones are present.

After the Holcomb Valley gold rush of 1860, ranchers used the area for grazing sheep, horses, and cattle.  Many of the ranchers kept their herds at lower elevations during the winter and drove their stock to the meadows of the San Bernardino Mountains to graze during the summer months.  Old cattle paths, watering holes, and campsites remain a part of the landscape today.  Although not particularly successful, many miners prospected in the southeastern portions of the San Bernardino Mountains.  Evidence still remains in the form of old cabins, mine shafts, prospecting pits, and refuse deposits.

The protection of the Sand to Snow area will preserve its cultural, prehistoric, and historic legacy and maintain its diverse array of natural and scientific resources, ensuring that the historic and scientific values of this area remain for the benefit of all Americans.  In addition to its significant scientific and historic values, the area also provides world class outdoor recreation opportunities, including hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, and horseback riding.


From :Presidential Proclamation -- Establishment of the Sand to Snow National Monument
February 12, 2016