Volvon Village on Mallory Creek
Mortar Count: 715
Open
Upper Whipsnake Trail
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Volvon Overlook
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Above Condor/Coyote Trails
Mortar Count: 5
Open
Whelk Lookout
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Whelk Pond
Mortar Count: 5
Open
Below Cave Point
Mortar Count: 11
Open
Below Knobcone Point Road
Mortar Count: 21
Open
Windy Point
Mortar Count: 9
Open
Below Rock City
Mortar Count: 12
Open
Black Hills Trail
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Blaisdell Trail Alignment
Blue Oak Trail
Mortar Count: 16
Open
Bob Walker’s Cave
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Bob’s Mortar
Mortar Count: 75
Open
Briones Valley
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Canyon Milling site
Mortar Count: 29
Open
Cistern Bath
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Clayton Ranch
Clayton Ranch Alignment
Condor/Coyote Trails
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Coyote Trail below reservoir
Mortar Count: 7
Open
Curry Creek Milling Station
Mortar Count: 18
Open
Curry Point Prayer Circle
Downstream from the Whelk Pond
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Elephant Rock
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Fallen Oak Village
Mortar Count: 46
Open
Fig Pig Gulch Meadow
Mortar Count: 19
Open
Founders Ridge
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Green’s Village in Fig Pig Gulch
Mortar Count: 75
Open
Greenhill Ranch, aka The Green Ranch
Highland Ridge Lookout
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Hog Canyon
Mortar Count: 7
Open
Hummingbird
Mortar Count: 10
Open
Intersection of Devils Slide Trail and Trail Through Time
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Intersection of Molluck and Coyote Trails
Mortar Count: 11
Open
Jan Enderle Village
Mortar Count: 35
Open
Joel’s Straggler
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Lion’s Mane Village
Mortar Count: 72
Open
Live Oak Campground
Mortar Count: 28
Open
Long Canyon and Marsh Creek
Mortar Count: 36
Open
Los Meganos State Historic Park
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Los Vaqueros Log Cabin Village
Mortar Count: 60
Open
Los Vaqueros Overlook
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Los Vaqueros Pond Village
Mortar Count: 130
Open
Louise’s Walkway
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Lower Deer Valley
Mortar Count: 14
Open
Lower Highland Ridge Pond
Mortar Count: 5
Open
Lower Mallory Creek
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Lower North Blue Oak
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Lower Village Overlook
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Lower Village Upper Overlook
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Lower Volvon Village
Mortar Count: 200
Open
Mallory Creek #1
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Mallory Creek #2
Mortar Count: 7
Open
Mallory Creek #3
Mortar Count: 10
Open
Mallory Creek Village
Mortar Count: 45
Open
Mallory Ridge Pond
Mortar Count: 6
Open
Manhattan Trail–Black Diamond Mines
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Manzanita berry grinding slick with one cupule
Manzanita Ridge
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Manzanita slick
Manzanita Trail
Mortar Count: 11
Open
Mid Silva Creek Terrace
Mortar Count: 11
Open
Morgan Territory Ridge East Shelf #1
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Morgan Territory Ridge East Shelf #2
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Morgan Territory Ridge East Shelf #3
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Morgan Territory Ridge Ridge East Overlook
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Murphy Meadow
Mortar Count: 8
Open
Near Intersection of Blue Oak and Miwok Trails
Mortar Count: 5
Open
Near the top of Hog Canyon
Mortar Count: 3
Open
North Morgan Territory Ridge
Mortar Count: 2
Open
North Morgan Territory Ridge Lookout Knob
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Nothing There
Mortar Count: 38
Open
Off Marsh Creek Road
Mortar Count: 5
Open
Prayer Ridge
Riggs Canyon Rock Camp
Mortar Count: 113
Open
Rock City
Mortar Count: 13
Open
Round Valley
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Round Valley Village
Mortar Count: 317
Open
SE Mallory Ridge
Mortar Count: 4
Open
Silva Creek
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Silva Creek Cave
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Silva/Kellogg Lower
Mortar Count: 2
Open
Silva/Kellogg Upper
Mortar Count: 5
Open
Slick Ridge
Mortar Count: 33
Open
South Blue Oak Trail Ridge
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Stone Corral
Mortar Count: 33
Open
SW Riggs Canyon
Mortar Count: 5
Open
SW Windy Point
Mortar Count: 9
Open
The Toad
Top of Hog Canyon
Mortar Count: 1
Open
Trail Through Time
Mortar Count: 27
Open
Upper East Morgan Territory Ridge
Mortar Count: 6
Open
Upper Homestead Trail Knob site
Mortar Count: 8
Open
Upper Marsh Creek Tributary
Mortar Count: 3
Open
Upper Pond Village Creek
Mortar Count: 10
Open

Territory: Volvon

The Volvon were one of the Bay Miwok tribelets living in Contra Costa County at the time of European contact. They were a hill people based in the rugged Black Hills southeast of Mt. Diablo. The mountain itself was in Volvon hands. It had been the home of the supernatural First People, who created Indians and their world, and was a spiritual focus for nearly every tribe that could see it. Shamen and religious leaders went to the mountain to pray. Everyday people would visit its slopes for intertribal festivals. This meant the Volvon must have been a prosperous people. One did not just sashay into Volvon territory without bearing tribute for the privilege. Imagine the trade goods the Volvons acquired this way. They were regular participants in regional trade festivals hosted by their Ohlone neighbors, the Ssaoams, at the Brushy Peak trading grounds not far from the Altamont Pass. The Volvons’ preeminent position at the crossroads of Central California no doubt made them a sophisticated and cosmopolitan people.

That Volvons were active traders does not mean their territory was short on natural resources. The name ‘Volvon’ itself roughly translates as “natural springs,” which befits a triblet based in the Black Hills where the headwaters of a number of perennial creeks rise. The highland heart of Volvon territory today is rich in oak, pine, and manzanita. Mount Diablo is home to a number of endemic plant species–rare resources controlled by Volvons. Open rangelands, now mostly overrun with nonnative grasses, must once have been covered with food-bearing plants. Deer, elk, and antelope were no doubt abundant in the lighly settled ridges and valleys on the eastern side of the territory.

Volvon territory gives every appearance of once having supported a substantial population. We have discovered 81 bedrock mortar sites, and over 2,100 bedrock mortars. Each site carries its own sense of place and is an individual window into the past. As you walk the paths that connect these sites and build up a richer mental map and sense of the landscape, you may acquire a feeling for the possibilities of life in Volvon territory in the not so distant past.

There are magical and metaphysical powers associated with Mt. Diablo and the Black Hills. Go there now and experience its effect on your perspective. Steep yourself in prehistory. The Spanish extirpated the Volvons from their homeland 200 years ago, but physically, their territory remains virtually intact today. The land still has a life of its own.

Upper-Whelk-Pond-Manzanita-slick

Manzanita slick

Manzanita slick.

RockCity

Rock City

Rock City13 bedrock mortars, grinding slick, cupules, and incisions.There are deep, well-worn mortars here.Another view.

UEMR

Upper East Morgan Territory Ridge

Upper East Morgan Territory RidgeSix bedrock mortars.Elevation 1952 ft.There are two clusters of mortar rocks at this site. The second cluster lies about 250 ft. to the northwest.There are great views of the Central Valley from this shelf, and it’s only 35 minutes from the Morgan Territory parking lot. A great place for a picnic.

Bobs-Mortar-P1010185

Bob’s Mortar

Bob’s Mortar75 bedrock mortars, including 9 in a satelilte site about 100 ft. awayElevation 1380 ft.This site was named for the first mortar Bob discovered on his own. It is a single large bowl on a rock right beside the trail. Below the rock a small perennial spring or seep dribbles water into a creek […]

GreenhillRanch

Greenhill Ranch, aka The Green Ranch

Greenhill Ranch, aka The Green RanchElevation 2,440 ft.We call Greenhill Ranch the “Shaman’s Redoubt” because we think it likely that shamen worshipping on Mt. Diablo used this beautiful site as a camp/staging area. In 1938-9 William Wurster, later to become Dean of the Architecture Department at Cal Berkeley (Wurster Hall is named for him), designed […]

LDV3

Lower Deer Valley

Lower Deer Valley14 bedrock mortars.Elevation 495 ft.Way to go Jaime!Looking at the site. The mortar rocks in this little camp lie just off the Stewartville Trail near Sand Creek in Black Diamond Mines Regional Park.Bob looks down at one of the mortar rocks.These bullet-shaped mortars are deep and reminiscent of the ones found at China […]

ManTrail

Manzanita Trail

Manzanita Trail11 bedrock mortars and slick.Elevation 1700 ft.Looking at the camp from near the trail.The relative remoteness from water suggests this may have been a seasonal camp, but who knows?That’s Manzanita trail in the background.A pair of mortars in a natural depression.Photograph by Bob Bardell.

RV3

Round Valley

Round Valley1 bedrock mortar with a pestle or hammerstoneElevation 442 ft.We found this mortar and its in situ pestle or hammerstone on the bank of Round Valley Creek.Bob illustrates how the pestle/hammerstone might have been deployed. The user would probably have straddled the mortar, however.A closer look at the pestle/hammerstone snugly ensconsed in its mortar.

Upper-Homestead-Trail-Knob

Upper Homestead Trail Knob site

Upper Homestead Trail Knob site.Eight bedrock mortars.Elevation 1285 ft.A little site above the headwaters of Silva Creek.The conjunction of grassland and oak woodland is typical of Volvon territory.An old mortar.

BrionesValley1

Briones Valley

Briones Valley2 bedrock mortars and one possible mortarElevation 312 ft.Joel’s reconnaissance of Briones Valley turned up this mortar rock.The mortars here may have begun life as geoconcretions.