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City of Rocks hit with ‘worst graffiti in its history’ at site signed by 1840s emigrants

Idaho

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An Idaho park site with ties to the 1840s was hit with spray paint graffiti this weekend in the worst case of vandalism in the park’s history, officials said.

City of Rocks National Reserve superintendent Wallace Keck said in a phone interview Monday that the vandalism occurred late Friday or early Saturday at Camp Rock, one of the formations at City of Rocks near Almo in south central Idaho. Camp Rock is notable for its historic significance. Emigrants on the California Trail in the 1840s and ‘50s stopped to sign their names in axle grease on the granite, and many of the signatures are still visible today.

But now they’re joined by several large graffiti tags in black, white and pink spray paint, according to photos posted on the City of Rocks Facebook page. The Idaho Statesman reports graffiti includes phrases like, “no flesh,” “the real LP” and “love God!” Keck said because of the amount of graffiti, different styles of tags and other factors, he believes two to six people were involved in the vandalism, including males and females.

By Monday morning, the City of Rocks Facebook post had been shared more than 4,000 times and had nearly 500 comments, including tips and witness accounts that Keck said are helping him pinpoint when the vandalism occurred.

“A lot of people care about what has happened and have been coming forward with tips and helpful hints,” Keck said. “I’ve received dozens of pieces of info that might be helpful. … We’re closer to (solving this) than you might think.”

Keck said it’s not uncommon to have vandalism at City of Rocks, including another notable instance of “gang-related spray paint” around 2005.

“We see people either try to carve their name in (the rocks), spray paint or magic marker. We’ll see a couple cases a year, it’s usually rather small,” he said.

Those incidents pale in comparison to last weekend’s vandalism.

“This is the worst graffiti City of Rocks has had in its history,” Keck said. “It’s so blatant on one of the most historic features on the City of Rocks.”

Keck said plans are already in the works to remove the spray paint, but some of the graffiti slightly overlaps with emigrant signatures, which complicates the removal process.

“It has to be removed very carefully,” he said. “We can’t just sandblast it or scrub it off. It will come down; it will come off. We’re not going to let the vandalism stand.”

If you were at City of Rocks this weekend and saw the vandalism or suspicious activity, or if you recognize the spray paint tags, you can contact Keck at Wallace_Keck@partner.nps.gov or call 208-824-5911 and leave a message.

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