Arizona

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Established in 1892, the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, in Coolidge, Arizona, was the first prehistoric and cultural preserve established in the United States. It is an interesting place to visit and learn some of the history of the ancient Hohokain era farming village.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

On a recent visit to Phoenix, my dad and I took a 90 minute drive to visit Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. We are both interested in archaeology and old ruins, so it was a fun visit for us.

Discovery of Casa Grande Ruins

In 1694, Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino discovered what was the community building of the Ancestral People of the Sonora Desert. The building is four stories tall and 60 feet long. He called it Casa Grande (Big House) and the name stuck.

 

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

There were expeditions in 1775 and 1846 to explore the area and see what was there, with multiple articles written about the area. Then, during the 1860’s-1890’s, using the railroad and stage coaches, people began to visit the area to see it for themselves. This brought concerns about souvenir hunters, vandalism and graffiti like in the picture below, which reads, “U.W. Ward 1871”.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument U.W. Ward

Due to concerns about the destruction of Casa Grande Ruins, and after some persistence and persuading, the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument was established so the area could be studied and protected.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Ancestral People of the Sonora Desert

The Ancestral People of the Sonora Desert, who settled Casa Grande Ruins, were the “First Masters of the American Desert”. They were hunter-gathers, but also cultivated their own crops. They built large canals to provide water for those crops and the village as a whole.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

 

The Great House was built in about 1350, with the other building built around the same time period. By 1450, the population was dwindling and in 1694, the village was completely abandoned.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Free Time

To be sure, there was a lot for the inhabitants of Casa Grande to do to provide for their survival and well being. However, there is evidence that there was time to spend in other activities as well. There have been artifacts discovered with jewelry, painted pottery and even a basketball court.

 

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Hohokam Jewelry Making

A lot of the pottery has quite detailed painting done on it. They obviously cared about what they were making.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Casa Grande Ruins Visitors Center

When you decide to visit the ruins, be sure to plan in enough time to look around in the Visitors Center. Not only are there artifacts, petroglyphs and maps, but there is also a documentary that lasts about 20 minutes. The documentary gives a lot of detail of the area and people.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Fossil

Conclusion

Overall, I really enjoyed visiting Casa Grande Ruins National Monument with my dad. I’m so glad I spotted it on the map when I was planning my trip. If you’re in the area, be sure to visit. Be sure to wear sunscreen and bring a hat and water. I got a small burn in about 20 minutes. It is open year round, except a few holidays, but be sure to check their website for their hours. Admission is FREE!

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

 

 

 

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

 

 

 

7 Comments

  • Reply Linda (LD Holland) September 29, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    We are visiting Arizona next month. So good to learn about Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. And the chance to learn a bit about the Hohokain era. It is great that they have been able to save some parts of the buildings and items of everyday use. I will remember the sunscreen!

  • Reply Danik September 30, 2019 at 2:44 am

    I love my history and would love to explore these ruins. Havent been to Arizona yet but have marked it on the map, where it is for when I go and explore there. I really thought Arizona was just desert but there seems to be a heck of a lot of things to do and see in this state.

  • Reply Rosemary October 1, 2019 at 5:57 am

    Fascinating. Great to learn about this historical site in Arizona. I’ve never heard of it, but I’d love to know more about The First Masters and how they lived. Thanks for the introduction to the Casa Grande ruins.

  • Reply Kamree October 1, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    What a fascinating place! There is so much history and many things to learn from the ruins, it would be a very educational place to explore! xo – Kam

  • Reply Tami October 2, 2019 at 12:25 am

    I’m surprised it’s free to visit, but what a nice treat that is. I’m glad the site is protected now so that many can enjoy it for years to come. It’s just the kind of exploration I enjoy — learning about culture and history.

  • Reply Nisha October 2, 2019 at 9:23 am

    To be honest, I had not even heard of it! Love the jewelry and the utensils depicted here. Looks like an awesome place to peep into history.
    Next year we plan to go there, will keep in mind to include this gem.

  • Reply Suruchi Mittal October 11, 2019 at 8:54 am

    The Casa Grande Ruins with four stories tall and 60 feet long is actually a huge house. The inhabitants of Casa Grande were really artistic and intelligent. We too would love to watch the 20 minutes documentary on it.

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