February 29, 2016
Montezuma Castle is a National Monument near Camp Verde, Arizona. Today we can gaze into the windows of the Sinagua people that inhabited this area between AD 1100 and 1350.
On December 8, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt celebrated the passage of the Antiquities Act by declaring four sites of historic and cultural significance as our nation's first National Monuments. Among these was Montezuma Castle, which the President identified as a place "of the greatest ethnological value and scientific interest." Although very few original artifacts remained in the structure due to intensive looting of the site, Roosevelt's decision assured the continued protection of one of the best preserved prehistoric cliff dwellings in North America.
"Castle A" (shown here), is a 45-50 room, pueblo ruin and when excavated, a wealth of artifacts were uncovered, and the site greatly enhanced our understanding of the Sinagua people who inhabited this riparian "oasis" along Beaver Creek for over 400 years.
Early visitors to the monument were allowed access to the structure by climbing a series of ladders up the side of the limestone cliffs. However, due to extensive damage to this valuable cultural landmark, public access of the ruins was discontinued in 1951 and the ladders removed.
Even 600 years after their departure, the legacy of the Sinagua people continues to inspire the imaginations of this and future generations.
We talked at length to one of the Park Rangers about the site. He was extraordinarily knowledgeable, and we were so impressed with him and his knowledge. We asked if he was a volunteer, or paid to do the tours. He responded, "I'm retired. I volunteered to be a Park Guide here about 15 years ago, and I donate my time. The only pay that I asked (and they agreed to) is that they allow me to climb up into the Castle and spend a day exploring once every year." I'd say that's pretty awesome pay!
Thank you for your comments and critiques.
Have a day full of exploring, mystery and discovery today my friends!