on December 28, 2006
Located about 45 minutes from Phoenix out in what seems like the middle of nowhere in the Arizona desert is Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. The closest town is Coolidge. As I drove through the small town in search of Casa Grande, I was taken aback when I literally pulled up upon the large covered structure. The National Park Service is protecting this ruin with what appears to be a large tent-like cover that was built in the 1930s. It is amazing to me that if Casa Grande is as old as they say it is, it has survived the hundreds of years out on the hot and dry Arizona desert.This prehistoric “Big House” was discovered in ruins by European settlers and has remained a mystery for centuries. What is left of the four story mason structure is rather limited. The surrounding area has what is believed to be the remains of an agricultural community, complete with irrigation canals. Several foundations of other smaller buildings are also on this site. Because each of the four main outer walls face the four compass direction points, some believe that this building served as some sort of observatory or that it had some astronomical significance. Archaeologists have uncovered many artifacts that help historians to learn more about the Hohokum people who lived here until the 15th century. In 1892, the Casa Grande Ruins became the first archaeological site in the USA to be protected as a National Monument.There really isn’t a lot to this particular US Park Service National Monument. For me, I had a few hours to kill before catching a flight out of Phoenix so the three hour diversion was welcomed. If you are driving from Phoenix to Tucson this may be a reasonable stop along your journey. Otherwise, I must admit, I would not suggest making a special trip out here into the desert to see this one.There is a $5 per person fee to enter this US National Park Service site.
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