“Look at this cliff, Darlene.”
Built to Last – Cliff Dwellings With Ladders
Limestone made a durable building material. The Sinagua Indians built these ancient homes 800-1,000 years ago.”
“Cool!” Darlene asked, “But most of these cliff-dwellings don’t have an entrance. How did the Sinagua or “Mystery People” get in? There’s another mystery for you.”
“True enough, Darlene. The cliff dwellings have ladders, though. Maybe they could go out the top. That doesn’t explain how they got to ground level, though.”
Tuzigoot Cliff Dwellings & Museum
Tourism boomed Thanksgiving holiday weekend at Tuzigoot National Monument. A ranger stood next to the checkout clerk at the museum. He answered questions from young visitors who had been on the trail. They completed Tuzigoot Booklet to earn the Junior Ranger badges.
“He’s been up here four times. When they finish the Ranger Book, then we fill out the certificate, swear them in. Presto! They become a Junior Ranger.
The museum told the Sinagua story in displays and artifacts. Archeologists noted six styles of pottery. For example, there were 108 complete bowls of undecorated plainware. But they found only four sherds of Tularosa Black-on-White pottery.
In & Out – Cliff Dwellings Offered Plenty to Explore
Tuzigoot National Monument is a large pueblo. We would not know about the cliff dwellings without excavating. Archeologists in 1933-1934 took out 5,000 cubic yards of earth. The National Park Service does not excavate often anymore. When the dirt is removed, artifacts leave their natural settings, never to go back exactly as they were before.
Tuzigoot Cliff Dwellings in 2016
Stops along the way explain the process of excavation. At the top of the grassy incline stands the Tuzigoot Pueblo.
A slight chill in the breeze kept us comfortable in our coats. As we walked along, we could see the building walls. Even though they were not complete, we could see no doors.
The broad paved path encircles the cliff dwellings. I rate this path a 1, the easiest level. Wheel-chair-patients cannot climb the ladders inside the cliff dwellings to the top-level. However, they can see cliff dwellings from almost every angle.
From the top, the “Mystery People” could see a long way. We could see the historic mining towns of Jerome, Cottonwood, and Clarkdale, AZ. Little did the ladder people know what would happen to their beloved marsh as a result of copper mining. Nor did American copper miners know what destruction they created.
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