This area has never had a large human population. Most archaeological evidence points to this area being used seasonally, most likely when fish such as steelhead are running in the river. Those who did come to use these resources left their mark in Picture Gorge.
Ranchers started moving into the area in the mid-1800s. Many tried their fortunes, and suceeded (or failed) to varying levels. Until the middle of the twentieth century, sheep and cattle ranches were equally common, but as the market for wool has declined, cattle ranching has come to dominate in the area.
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument doesn't just contain fossils, but also places where traces of the people who have lived here, past and present, remain.