Larry & Lee Ann's Journey 2 travel blog

We've arrived!

It's a beautiful day for a tour :)

Casa Grande Ruin...

Lovely flora & fauna in this area...

Our tour guide Diane was very informative today...

Lovely cactus...

Wow, how does she remember all of this stuff?

Matt, Gary, Lynne & Larry, listening intently

Can you see the scary face, middle near the bottom!

A little info for you...

Still listening, LOL!

Interesting question!

Note the holes in question, top left & right...

Looking back toward the Visitor Center...

Wow, they had quite the irrigation system running!

One of the other structures...

And a better look at parts of the ruins...

Isn't this Santa Rita Prickly Pear pretty??? Now that's a mouthful :)

Back in the Visitor Center there is a lovely array of pottery...

Some interesting info pertaining to this pottery...

Very nice...

Wish I could do this, so talented...

A nice array...

Love the animal pieces!

Lovely work :)

Cute!

Love the butterflies...

Four good friends...Love it!


Today's post covers our recent visit to the Casa Grande ruins with friends Gary, Lynne, Matt & Phil. You might remember that the four guys were doing a 'high school reunion'. Even though we see Gary & Lynne quite regularly, Matt has been out of the picture since the 1960's. Getting together again was a real treat for these guys & spending a couple of hours at Casa Grande Ruins made for a nice afternoon. So, here goes:

As soon as we entered the Visitor Center we showed our Golden Age Pass (yep, sometimes it pays to be a 'senior') & we were told that a 15 minute film about the ruins was about to start so we entered the theater and grabbed a seat. The film gave a brief history & was very well done. After the film we saw that a guided tour was about to start so we made our way to a outdoor seating area and waited for it to begin. After 15 minutes of history at the ruins the walking portion of the tour took about 1 hour and we were quite pleased with how well versed our tour guide was. Although these are not the largest or most intriguing ruins we've visited in past years the film, tour & weather made for a terrific afternoon.

We learned that Casa Grande Ruins are one of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America. Archeologists discovered evidence that the ancient Sonoran Desert people who built the Casa Grande also developed wide-scale irrigation farming and extensive trade connections.

"Casa Grande" is Italian and Spanish for "big house". These names refer to the largest structure on the site, which is what remains of a four story structure that may have been abandoned by 1450. The structure is made of caliche, and has managed to survive the extreme weather conditions for about seven centuries. The large house consists of outer rooms surrounding an inner structure. The outer rooms are all three stories high, while the inner structure is four stories high. The structures were constructed using traditional adobe processes. The wet adobe is thicker at the base and adds significant strength. Horizontal cracks can be noticed and this defines the breaks between courses on the thick outer walls and the circular holes in the walls align with the setting sun. The people knew the changing positions of celestial objects and that helped with planting and harvesting. Pretty sophisticated stuff for a culture that started about 2000 years ago don't you think?

Since the ancient Sonoran Desert people who built it left no written language behind, written historic accounts of the Casa Grande begin with the journal entries of Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino when he visited the ruins in 1694. In his description of the large ancient structure before him, he wrote the words "Casa Grande" (or "great house") which are still used today. More became known about the ruins with the later visits of Lt. Col. Juan Bautista de Anza's expedition in 1775 and Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny's military detachment in 1846. Subsequent articles written about the Casa Grande increased public interest. During the 1860's through the 1880's more people began to visit the ruins with the arrival of a railroad line twenty miles to the west and a connecting stagecoach route that ran right by the Casa Grande. The resulting damage from souvenir hunting, graffiti and outright vandalism raised serious concerns about the preservation of the Casa Grande.

Anthropologist and historian Adolph Bandelier visited the Casa Grande ruins in 1883-1884 and reported on its condition and probable significance. As a result, several influential Bostonians urged Massachusetts Senator George F. Hoar to present a petition before the U. S. Senate in 1889 requesting that the government take steps to repair and protect the ruins. Repair work began the following year, and in 1892, President Benjamin Harrison set aside one square mile of Arizona Territory surrounding the Casa Grande Ruins as the first prehistoric and cultural reserve established in the United States. In 1903 a shelter roof of corrugated iron supported by redwood timbers was built over the Casa Grande. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Casa Grande Ruins to be a National Monument on August 3, 1918 and management of the Ruins was transferred to the National Park Service. The main part of the visitor center building with adjacent parking lot and entrance road, and a new steel shelter roof over the Casa Grande, were completed in 1932. As a result, the general physical appearance of Casa Grande Ruins has changed very little since the 1940's.

Well, that's it for now. We enjoyed these ruins & are glad we came, although I wouldn't drive for hours to visit. There is a bit of shade but if you come during the summer it wouldn't hurt to bring a hat & some water. And I understand a nice warm jacket if it's during the winter! Enjoy :)



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