Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Day 47 - Coolidge, AZ

Just north of Phoenix, we dropped in elevation enough that the saguaro cactus so stereotypical of Arizona made their appearance. Casa Grande National Monument was only a couple of miles from the RV park. It was the first protected ruins as it was on one of the major trade routes in the area. Even in the 1800s, people would stop and carve their name into the wood and soft clay walls and even break off pieces of the wall as souvenirs. The largest structure, Casa Grande itself, has four levels and is protected from the elements by a large roof. The current roof was built in the 1930s to replace the original one.

The walls of Casa Grande are very thick and wooden beams supported the roof and floors of the different levels. Occasionally, you could see where modern bricks and mortar was used to reinforce the structure. There are some interesting elements such as small holes in the thick walls which line up with sunset only on the equinox. It is assumed that this was a method of resetting their calendar probably for planting as this was an agricultural society. A large canal system for moving water from the Gila River into the fields around Casa Grande  all constructed with just wooden tools.

Archeologists believe that this complex of multiple dwelling sites surrounding Casa Grande supported a population of around 2000 individuals. They speculate that the people of the area moved on once the existing aqueduct system could no longer support their population growth. They were a victim of their own success.

I noticed that the desert vegetation seemed really green so we asked the volunteer at the visitors center. Apparently, this area experienced some heavy rainfall recently and the normally grey vegetation greened up as it does in the spring. Quite a few of these spiky bushes are now covered with little oval green leaves when normally they look like a pile for grey, spiky sticks. Or at least that's how the volunteer described them.

Today is supposed to be cooler than yesterday but it'll probably still be warm enough to enjoy the heated pool and hot tub. I could get used to this...

6 comments:

redlegsrides said...

Interesting stop. Makes me shake my head in dismay, the way people think they've the right to carve their damn initials onto natural and historic objects, geological formations and the like....

Geoff James said...

Richard,
Have been enjoying your Arizona posts. We have been thinking of flying to the US and touring the national parks in the AZ area, plus a side trip for me to the aircraft graveyard. However, a special deal has tilted the choice in favour of China next May. Perhaps 2020!

RichardM said...

I had thought that graffiti was something recent but there are so many places demonstrating that it’s been around forever. The petroglyphs could be considered graffiti.

RichardM said...

Be sure to time your trip to include the southern Utah parks as well. Hopefully when they aren’t overrun with tourists.

Lynne Goebeler said...

I had heard of Casa Grande before, but not been there. Definitely on the list now...

RichardM said...

It's definitely worth a look especially if you are already in the area.