A Place of Violence is an Idaho State Park
It’s a place of stark beauty. You can rent cabins and RV sights and look across the Snake River Canyon from the southern rim. While near the Interstate, the night skies aren’t polluted by light. Fishing is popular along the riverbanks. All of this obscures a bloody past.
Massacre Rocks State Park was an area where pioneers heading west passed through. For many, their dreams ended here. They were killed battling indigenous people who were growing frustrated by the ever-growing number of outsiders passing through the valley. Being tossed from a cliff often meant death below. But it didn’t stop the migration. Eventually, the tables were turned on by the tribal warriors.
Tourists roaring along the highway at 80 miles per hour may be intrigued for a brief moment as they glance at the meandering river and the fishermen. It gives the impression of a painting. A few minutes later, their thoughts have moved on to their eventual destination or the next stop for fuel or a meal. It’s a vastly different experience than the one encountered during the 1800s.
The park is bisected by the Interstate. On the other side, there is a green and tree-lined picnic area. There are also rocks where travelers left their names. One little boy even came back as an old man and left a follow-up message.
There are places like this all across Idaho. You can get out and walk around and hope to hear the echoes of the past. Last summer I walked alone through a portion of the park. It was a humbling experience. For all of our modern worries, it builds respect for those who passed before.