Dec 15, 2019
Temperature 65 Degrees
Casa Grande National Park
Sunday and time for a message from Pastor Ron. Once again a great message that provided a lot of food for thought for the coming week.
It was time also for a breakfast favorite of mine. Barbara made me a chili-cheese omelet this morning and added a sausage patty on the side. I added a glass of orange juice and a couple of cups of coffee, and I was in breakfast heaven.
Once that was done it was time to take things apart – specifically the old chair that was removed to make room for my new La-Z-Boy. It came apart easily and in small, manageable pieces. At this time all the parts and pieces are happily keeping one another company in the back seat of the car. Who knows if sometime in the future we will need to put it back from whence it came.
Time to go back a couple of days and take a tour of
In 1894 Casa Grande became the nation’s first archaeological preserve.
This is where we’ll begin, so let’s go on in and get started.
This National Park has been set aside to tell the story of the Sonoran Desert People. It’s all about the life of a people that flourished here 1,500 years ago to 550 years ago. Six tribes in today’s Southwest still have histories that link themselves to the people who once lived here. Many of their descendants still live in the Sonoran Desert.
The Sonoran Desert People then and now regard this place as scared.
Where did they come from? What was their life like? Why did they build in this spot? Where did they go? This is their story.
The people who lived in this area were originally called Hohokam but they prefer to be known as the Sonoran Desert People. The Sonoran Desert is characterized by a series of parallel north-trending narrow mountain ranges that are separated by valleys.
The fine grain soils of the valleys made them highly suitable for agriculture. The mountains provided raw materials for stone tool making.
The climate today is much the same as it was back then. Day time highs can exceed 105 degrees and then plunge at night to below freezing. The area is also characterized by two growing seasons and two rainy seasons.
Before there was the walled compound known as Casa Grande . . .
About 4,000 years ago as the people of this area began to stay in one location for extended periods of time, they first built earthen homes called
As the family expanded, they built new pithouses – for grandparents, relatives, new couples, etc. – and arranged them in a cluster formation.
Around 1150 AD they began to build walled compounds.
Each compound consisted of above ground structures surrounded by or connected to a wall around the perimeter of the compound.
Which brings us to the ruins of Case Grade or the Great House and the compound that surrounded it.
Layout of the original compound. The dominant feature of the compound was, of course, the four story Great House.
Picture the effort and skill needed to build something the size of the four story Great House without modern power tools, wheels, beasts of burdens or support frames.
An aerial view of the compound taken in 1931 with the first roof to be constructed over the Great House.
The ruins of the Great House today.
The $64,000 dollar question as some would say. It’s original purpose remains a mystery. Was it an ancient astronomical observatory? Were sacred ceremonies held here? Did an influential family of the compound call it home? We’ll probably never know all of the answers. But we can make some good guesses.
During it’s fifty years it appears that it was used in many different ways. As a storage facility. An observation post.
It was used to mark important events in time.
Look in the upper left, then the upper right of this wall and you will see the pair of holes used to mark the equinoxes.
As for the compound itself, we know from past digs in the compound that it was a place where the arts flourished.
They collected shells from the Gulf of California and Pacific Ocean.
A decorated shell was one of many artifacts found in the ruins of the compound.
Farming has been a part of Sonoran desert life for over 4,000 years. In particular, cotton was king then and still is now in this area.
Cotton was freely traded.
But cotton requires a lot of water.
That being so Casa Grande and it’s compound was part of a network of communities that were built along canal systems.
This Barbara our tour guide explained was all that they had to dig the canals.
Canals like this. Can you imagine? Using only a stick.
For fifty years the compound and its people flourished. Then they were gone.
For the longest time no one knew of Casa Grande and its compound.
The other structures that are still standing.
And the remaining walls are now preserved for all time. Preserved and protected so that we might learn of those who came before us.
Time to bring to an end another day on The Road of Retirement. This being Sunday I’m afraid another Monday is just a few hours away. Which means time to go back to work. Time now to get some shut eye in preparation for a marathon sorting of toys.
Thanks for checking in with us. We enjoyed your company and as always appreciate your comments. Catch you tomorrow.
These are the voyages of Graybeard and it’s two intrepid travelers. Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have never been before
See you on down the road!