The Story of Chief Running Deer, and His Lovely Indian Maiden, Falling Rock

Huge deer X-ing sign

Image by rawmustard via Flickr

Oh yea, I’m in one of those moods again.  Somewhat reminiscent, somewhat thoughtful.  When I got home from work today, I was pretty tired and sore.  I wanted to sit down at the computer, and catch up on some blogs, but I just couldn’t do it.  The more I sat at the computer, the more my back started hurting.  There is one sure cure for me when it comes to a sore back.  I just soak my pains away in a nice hot, hot, hot tub.  Of course the primary requirement is soothing country music, and a good book.  Yes you heard that right, I read in the tub.


I was sitting there soaking, enjoying my new book, and listening to the some old country music.  For some strange reason, a vivid memory, struck me.  The book became a blur, and I was viewing an old story my father had told us when we were kids.  I really don’t know what the trigger was, but when the memory struck, I found myself smiling, and giggling to myself a little.


Allow me to attempt to paint the scene for you.  I was pretty young, four or five. We used to take, it seems now, monthly trips to Denver.  We had to visit the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.  Like most children, we could be pretty annoying at times.  If you can imagine, four children cramped up in a car for a two hour drive along some very treacherous roads.  Dad had a knack for keeping us occupied, and entertained.  He would start pointing out rock formations that looked like animals, people, or objects.  Naturally, before long we were peering out the windows trying to pick out these rocks before he could.


I remembered one time specifically.  It was night, we were returning home from Denver.  Being dark there was nothing for us to focus on.  I’m sure we must have been driving Dad and Mom nuts.  Traveling through Turkey Creek Canyon, back when it was a single lane very dangerous road.  A steep mountain road, with tight turns and towering rocks on one side, along with a steep drop off on the other. 


A Deer Crossing SignAnyone who has driven the roads of Colorado, are familiar with two very common road signs.  Caution Deer Crossing, and Watch For Falling Rock.  As we passed a Deer Crossing sign, Dad said “Oh look, Chief Running Deer has been here”. I can hear my mother, saying “Lanny!”, and giving a little giggle.   I can picture Dads face, with that devilish grin that was so common when he was playing with us. 


Of course our interest was piqued, and we started to question him.  “Who’s Chief Running Deer?”


“Chief Running Deer, see the sign.  He leaves his mark everywhere he’s been.  He’s out looking for his beautiful Indian maiden, Falling Rock.”  Naturally, our faces are stuck to the windows trying to see this Chief Running Deer.  Then we would pass another sign, and he would say,  “See, he’s been here too, he left his sign.”


“How do you know he’s looking for his Indian Maiden?'” we would ask.


Falling RockAs we passed another sign, this one saying Watch for Falling Rock, he said. “Because he leaves those signs all over.  He wants everyone to watch out for her, and help him find her.”  He would giggle a  little, and wait for the next question that he knew was coming.



“What happened to her, how come he can’t find her?”


“Well you see one day, Chief Running Deer, came back to the tee pee after a long day of hunting.  When he got there, he could not find his fair maiden, Falling Rock.  So he started asking all the other Indians if they had seen her.  Many indeed had seen her leave the camp.  She was heading up to the rock cliffs above to search for roots and herbs to make medicine.   Chief Running Deer went to look for his bride, but she was never to be seen again.  To this day, Chief Running Deer is still searching for the love of his life.  He puts the signs up, hoping someone will find her and return her to him.”


For the rest of the ride, we had our eyes glued to the road side.  Hoping to catch a glimpse of Chief Running Deer, or his lovely bride, Falling Rock.


From then on, every time we saw the Deer Crossing sign, or the Falling Rocks sign, we would yell out, “Chief Running Deer, is out looking again Dad, maybe he’ll find Falling Rock this time.”

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windmill said...

Nice narration! :)

I liked reading it.

June Saville said...

Hi Eric
When I was a kid we watched out for koala crossing signs and ones with the silhouette of a kangaroo that meant: 'watch out. Kangaroos are active mainly at dawn and dusk and can create real problems for themselves and any cars on the road. I'm afraid it's a common occurrence to see dead kangaroos on our bush tracks ...
June in Oz

The Grandpa said...

Nice story, Eric. It's fun to reminisce.

When I lived in Massachusetts, I used to often drive by this pond that lay in between two small communities. Right before you got to the pond, there was a sign that said "Ducks Crossing." One day I had a friend visiting and we were on our way to Home Depot and had to drive by this pond. When he saw the sign, he looked at me and said with a very puzzled look on his face, "That's a strange name for a town."

confused said...

wonderful narrative young man..and I enjoy a little old country in a hot bath with a book as well..:))

Lilly's Life said...

That is a wonderful story Eric. It made me think of similar car trips with my father too - something tells me Des is truly like your Dad. He was big on the story telling too. And for making up songs as I recall. There were always games of some sort to keep us interested (and to stop us form asking, 'are we there yet?'). I love these kind of posts Eric - very well written as per usual.

Not The Rockefellers said...

I love this story so much that from now on I will tell it, if the situation arises.

Long live the legend of Chief Runing Deer and Falling Rock!

Peace - Rene

Jena Isle said...

Hi Eric,

That's an ideal scenario, reading in the hot tub after a hard day's work.

Our friend Tasha had mentioned you in her comment in my story and I had to agree with her...he he he...

Perhaps I can make you as my

Thanks for sharing a sentimental post with us. It reminds me of times with grandfather too, when he used to tell stories about the great deer hunter in the verdant mountains of Kalinga.

Happy blogging.

Momisodes said...

What an incredible story! Your dad's story was so creative. I love it. I'm sure you still think of it when you pass those signs now :)

I Ponder said...

this reminds me of a song played in an ole jukebox, Running Bear? you are quite the writer :)

Eric S. said...

@ Windmill, Thank you.

@ June, It was fun, having dad start the whole process. We didn't have all the electronic toys. The parents had to be more creative.

@ The Grandpa, Thanks, that's a pretty funny story.

Eric S. said...

Opps, hit the wrong button.

@ Confused, Glad to know I'm not alone there.

@ Lilly, Thanks, I think our parents had to be more creative than parents these days. Dad was pretty good at making up traveling games and songs.

@ Not The Rockefellers, LOL, carry on the tradition.

@ Jena, I hope you got a good picture, LOL. Tasha is too kind.

@ Momisodes, Thank you, and I hope your doing well. Yes I still think of that story to this day.

@ I Ponder, I know that song. We used to play it all the time, I don't remember the artist though. Thanks for visiting.

queenlint1 said...


Totally wonderful story and one for the children's book fair, Cowboy!!

Taking a cue from Chief Running Deer and Falling Rock, an old Russian cure for a bad back is a bed of ferns. Yep. You heard me right!

You pick the fern fronds and lay them down on a sheet. Carefully lay there until you feel the 'drawing' or tingly sensation ebb. Weirdest damn thing, but it works!

I thought of you earlier today. Martha Marshall over at An Artists Journal had her Saturday Finds blog and had Lisa Konkin on it. I love her kitchy work, but just HAD to give you the link to her chihuahua couture Dogumentary! Here 'tis, good for a chuckle:


jakill said...

I loved this stoy. It reminded me of days long ago when I would travel with my dad in his little red van across Dartmoor in Devon, UK. It was very eerie in bad weather; we'd have to sing to keep our spirits up, and the nasties away.

Writers Gifts said...

Great story. It reminds me of our summer car trips. My parents used to always try to make things seem more intersting along the way!

Vixen said...

Such a great story. It sounds exactly like the stories my dad used to tell. Aren't those kinds of dads the best?

Eric S. said...

@ Queenlint1, Thank you so much, I'll have to try the bed of ferns. I checked out that video, just too much fun.

@ Jakill, Thanks, I think our parents had to be more creative than we do now. I bet those trips were a lot of fun though.

@ Writers Gifts, Thank you, yes the older parents were a little more active in trying to keep us occupied.

@ Vixen, Yes indeed they are definitely the best kind of dads.

marly said...

Living in the country is simple and peaceful. I remember my grandpa's house.

Coloradolady said...

What a cute story. I am sure everytime I see one of these signs now, I will think of this very story.

Oh, and there is nothing wrong with reading in the bathtub...sometimes, that is the only place to be alone and its quiet.

Cute Post.

Eric S. said...

@ Marly, yes living in the country is nice and peaceful. That fact alone makes it feel simple.

@ Coloradolady, Thanks, the tub is my reprieve from time to time, LOL. It is a god story, and worthy of repeating.

Kel said...

What I remember with an occasionally aching fondness is Dad's deep, and terribly off key, voice, and the enthusiasm with which he sang along to the Johnny Cash 8-tracks especially . . . We'd all sing along ~ Johnny Cash, Lorretta Lynn, all the old classics as we wended our way down those back-country roads.

Remember all five of us jammed up in the cab of She'asta, bundled in our deep-winter garb, you on Chris's lap, Todd on mine, Dad driving ~ and all of us singing at the top of our lungs as he brought us safefly home through the many snow & wind storms?

Those were special times.

Crap, now you've gone and got me all watery-eyed gawd dammit.

Eric S. said...

Kel, I do remember those times. But I remember singing Sneak Snake along with the radio. With the occasional Teddy Bare by Red Sovine, and Wolf Creek Pass, and Convoy, and so many other of the funny songs. I have a whole playlist of Dad songs save at One of these days, I'll send you the link.

I also remember him plowing the back road to the ski area, leaving the little traps for his favorite people. The land salesmen, LOL. Dam I wish I could have seen their faces.

tashabud said...

Hi Eric,
That was a wonderful story. I'm very familiar with the signs you have mentioned. Your Dad was a terrific story teller as my mother was also. My stories can only be materialized in writing. I'm not an oral kind of story-teller, unfortunately.

From my perspective, in that scenario you described in the beginning of your post, I probably would have been fantasizing and wishing for my other half to join me in the hot tub, so he could massage all the aches and pains away. LOL.


Eric S. said...

Tasha, I like your thinking girl, Wink ;) Dad was great with stories. I can't do the oratory, I have to write mine. For some reason my mind does not work that way either.


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