Rental car snafus blew apart my original plan but that’s okay – it pushed me to some places I probably wouldn’t have visited otherwise. First stop was Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in Coolidge, Arizona. This site was the first prehistoric and cultural reserve established in the United States and a sacred place to the descendants of the Ancient Sonoran Desert People.
The large four-story main building is known by several names – Siwan Wa’a Ki as it is known in the native O’odham; Casa Grande in Spanish as named by Father Eusebio Kino, one of the first European visitors to the site in 1694; or in the anglo translation Big House/Great House. From afar it’s impossible to ignore the huge canopy that looms over it which was build in 1932 by architecht Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.
Here’s another view from a bit closer. Notice those small curbs/remnants? Many smaller buildings existed here as part of a larger compound. Archaeologists and historians are still uncertain exactly what purpose any of the buildings served or why they were built. Some features like holes in the Great House’s walls line up with different lunar events and the solar solstices, which as a farming society makes sense to track the changing seasons for planting & harvests.
Closer view of the Great House’s outer wall. Even though this structure is 700-1000 years old it is incredibly preserved through time due to the strength of the caliche adobe. Grafitti scratched into the walls from earlier visitors in the 19th century can be faintly seen in spots but were made illegal in 1892 with the protected status.
At the corner of the building you can glimpse inside a wee bit more. Several other interior walls still stand in various stages of deteriation and some metal rods & other repairs have been made over time to stabilize it for future visitors to see. The photos really don’t do it justice – it’s a very large structure for this time in history and very impressive!
You can learn much more about the history and culture of the people inside the visitor center (also online here at the NPS site). Many artifacts are on display and there is a short film you can watch as well. I know history can be boring to some people but this place is quite literally a time machine to thousands of years ago and definitely worth the visit!
Virtual Field-Trip: Signs
For those that can’t make the trip in person here are some of the various educational signs found at the monument. I’ll let you read on your own for a self-guided virtual tour. Enjoy!
Lat = 32.9942856 , Long = -111.5376511 -- Show at Google Maps
Author’s Note: Due to many reasons – none of them very good – I’m posting this from the future in February 2022. Actual visit date/time December 5, 2019 12:54pm. I’ll backdate it later so as to maintain chronological order. I’ve got an overwhelming backlog of photos to process which is probably why I procrastinate. Hope you enjoy them all the same.