Friday, April 1, 2011

Casa Grande Ruins

We had seen this structure from the highway and knew it was some kind of national monument, so we decided to check it out. Sometimes things get built up in your mind and then when you actually see them, it's like..."Oh--not quite what I thought..."  This was one of those things....when you see the Casa Grande ruins up close, it's like a giant sandcastle someone built. (The roof over the top has been constructed to keep the ruins from disintegrating further)..the significance of the walled structures around the main building are hard to understand unless you take the tour of the inside facilities first. This site is a monument about the Hohokam, farming people who lived in the Arizona Sonoran desert around 1300 BC. and their Great House. The "Great House" is one of the largest prehistoric structures in North America! By the way, that is where the city of Casa Grande gets its name, from this structure--casa is house, grande means big.  Tada!

The National Park Service does a wonderful job of giving historical information about its monuments. We really enjoy learning something first about what we are about to look at. We appreciate any introductory videos that are presented to give an overall history of the site. We enjoy looking at the artifacts and the explanations about them. This site, in Coolidge, AZ, about a half an hour from Casa Grande, was an enjoyable learning experience. I think kids might find it boring,'s us "boomers" that are motivated to view history and older (only in age!), retired teachers who want to still learn new things, that keep us going to local history places of interest.

I think the petroglyphs are interesting--the carvings in the rocks...we learned in school that by looking at all the tools, drawings, designs, the architecture, the layout of the site, we learn about the people of long ago. This is nothing new to all of us who went through school, but to see it years later and learn how the environment is changing our historical artifacts is somewhat upsetting. The petroglyphs are being stolen at an alarming rate because of the ease of getting the rocks out with recreational vehicles, and other modern day equipment and techniques.

We also found out that our current day environment is affecting the water table in this area. It has receded even deeper into the earth...from 30 feet below the surface in 1930 to 100 feet below today, killing the mesquite trees and other vegetation at this site....a little disheartening to know that how we are living today and using our resources is even affecting our historical sites that we are trying to preserve!

Overall, the tour did not take us much more than half an hour to see the whole thing. As we could use Eldy's senior pass, that was a nice bonus--to get in free.....tomorrow, we head to a really interesting place in Mesa, AZ....see you there!


  1. Looks hot, rocky, and totally different from Angola, IN today. Beautiful photographs! Kathy A.

  2. I.M figurin' that yer comment, ..."Oh--not quite what I thought..." could just as well applicate to folks who take up this here full time lifstye. Two many of them think it are going to be always like some rosey garden only to find out that it has also gots it's share of thunderstorms.

  3. I love sites like this one and getting in free is certainly a bonus. This boomer really enjoys learning new things... :)