lowry pueblo   7 comments

Posted at 11:20 am in Colorado,history,old buildings

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, but there is a reason. I’ll get to that below. Once again, this is a “catch-up piece” from this year’s trip down to Arizona. In my last post, I wrote about the visit to Hovenweep National Monument which lies on the most eastern boundary of Utah. After camping a night there, the dogs and I carried on with our travels. Hovenweep is contiguous to an area on the western boundary of Colorado which has been designated as Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. That area encompasses a number of ruins and countless archaeological sites, including the Lowry, Painted Hand, and Sand Canyon Pueblos. On this trip, I visited only Lowry Pueblo due to time, weather, and the amount of hiking I was prepared to do. My goal for the day was to visit Lowry, then drive onward through a couple of Colorado villages before re-entering Utah and driving north to camp near Moab.

Leaving Hovenweep, I followed a narrow paved road that led through a high desert landscape of rock and sagebrush. I passed several roads leading off to ruins I had elected not to visit on this occasion. Shortly, I crossed the state line between Utah and Colorado. I was a little surprised to see the high desert suddenly give way to huge rolling tracts of irrigated hay fields. Roofed hay shelters, jammed to the rafters with large rectangular bales, dotted the countryside. A couple of long transport trucks were being loaded with bales that were probably bound for some region where hay is scarce. It was all a little puzzling as I had read that there are so many archaeological sites throughout this area, but I suppose that many of these farms were established awhile ago and fields must have been picked clean of rocks, then in more modern times, irrigation set up, to tame what must otherwise be fairly hostile lands.

As I neared the end of the 20-odd mile route between Hovenweep and Lowry Pueblo, I began to wonder where these ruins must lie as the farms seemed to be becoming increasingly developed and prosperous. As I drove the final short stretch of road, I caught sight of a sign pointing off to the left, a bit past a farm operation. Turning in, the road wound between some junipers before ending in a small parking lot. The pueblo ruins lay atop a knoll just a little further on. I had been told that they had a partial roof, so was not surprised by their appearance, but more by their location. This rocky, natural area lies just beyond neighboring irrigated hay fields. I parked and wandered along the trail to the ruins, stopping to read the interpretive signage. I’ll leave it to those who are interested, to check out the above-linked BLM page on the ruins – there’s quite a bit of info there, along with a map of the site. Suffice to say that the ruins are, in many ways, similar to those that I would soon visit at Chaco Canyon, in New Mexico, but are not quite so large. They have been excavated, but roofed over, and part of them reburied. It should probably be mentioned that many ruins are now left either undisturbed, or excavated and then reburied, as exposure to the elements is very hard on these structures and causes them to deteriorate without continuous maintenance. What we see as excavated and “stabilized” ruins, are just a small fraction of those which are left buried throughout the entire Four Corners region.

Within the main settlement structure, there is a kiva which one can view by entering the ruins through a low door opening. As the structure is roofed, that area is dimly lit, but probably gives a feel for how it would actually have looked during use when these ruins would have been sheltered by roofs made of branches and other materials. I stood awhile, imagining a time when the kiva would have seen ceremonial use. After leaving that space, I walked the short distance to view the great kiva which lies a bit separate from the village ruins.

This kiva (see above photo – click on all photos for larger views), is quite impressive in size. Although I visited several ruin sites in the region, I did not see any so large again until Chaco Canyon. I’ve included a photo of the interpretive sign at the kiva (see below) as it contains several interesting bits of information including the note that it seems this is a very old kiva, and that objects excavated at this site seem to show that it was in use over many centuries. Also, that stones on the floor are arranged in a way which creates symbolic figures of winter and summer people.

After leaving Lowry, I continued onward to the town of Pleasant View, Colorado. then turned northwest onto route 491, which passes through the village of Dove Creek before crossing into Utah and arriving at the town of Monticello. Along the way, I noted several buildings with signs for dry bean companies. A few old trucks were parked around a couple of these, so I stopped to shoot a few photos (I love old trucks). Approaching Monticello, I could see storm clouds dropping snow on the high peaks of the Abajo Range just to the west. It seemed that my decision to move on from Hovenweep was sound. Turning north, I headed for Moab, hoping to find a campsite somewhere outside town. More about that in my next post.

Above, I mentioned being quite busy lately. For the past month, I’ve been working on several pieces of art for an installation at the annual Mystery Ball fundraiser for the Central School Project (the community arts center) in Bisbee. I’m just in the process of putting up images of the pieces that I’ve created. I’ll be adding more today and again after the event this evening. You can find the images on my pbase photo gallery at this location, and there will be more about the event coming up on my blog soon.

Written by bev wigney on February 5th, 2011

7 Responses to 'lowry pueblo'

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  1. I love these old trucks, too, Bev. I didn’t realize excavations sometimes (or often?) reburied. I learn something new every day…especially when I read a new post from you!


    5 Feb 11 at 11:52 am

  2. Its a shame that the land is being farmed—but I know nothing stays the same and rightly so…just would love to walk those lands and see actual artifacts or bits of that ancient pottery and think that no one had touched it since it was dropped eons ago–thrilling thought.
    The designs of the summer and winter people are fascinating!
    Love the old trucks-glad you have found a worhty project to participate in, great rewards are coming-


    5 Feb 11 at 6:01 pm

  3. Bev.

    I am blown away.

    When you said that here was a reason you’d not been able to blog . . . I reluctantly scrolled forward – enjoying the antiquities – the kiva . . . but worrying . . . was Sabrina sick . . I steeled myself . . . AND THEN –


    That’s just joyous. Oh my gosh. Completely delightful. I really CAN imagine the fun, the flow, the sheer pleasure of creating those wondrous works.


    6 Feb 11 at 8:55 pm

  4. We were in that general area last fall, but we saw only Mesa Verde. It’s interesting to imagine what the area would have been like when the pueblos were in use.

    A friend who lives in Albuquerque used to know someone who collected Indian artifacts – something that can’t be done today. They walked out onto a mesa west of town, in an area that had been walked over countless times by modern-day people visiting the recreation area. And they found pot sherd after potsherd. Once, when i was a reporter in an east Georgia town, I met a farmer who lived south of the town near the Savannah River. He was digging up squares of his land and uncovering many, many arrowheads. Essentially, he could dig a hole anywhere and find arrowheads. I found an arrowhead near our house, just lying on the surface in a powerline right of way. It’s simply amazing to think of how many people lived across the country and for how long – so long that large areas of the surface are almost littered with their artifacts, if we only knew to look.


    8 Feb 11 at 11:53 pm

  5. Thanks so much for these glimpses of the Lowry Pueblo. Quite moving.

    The sun has just risen here, just as I was looking at your Life’s Little Mysteries series. Wow!! Your new creative energy is an inspiration to me. Wonderful photo of you with the jaguar mask and the photos with you in the reflection in the desert light as you photograph your new work. Good to see the bugs back in this new context of the desert.

    My earliest memories are of the air and the light in the California desert in the early 1950s, which is much like the light in your photos of your new work. Funny how the same sun can shine so differently in different places. The light in the Pacific Northwest has its own affecting personality, but it’s not the light I grew up in. I have a deep gratitude for still being able to see that light in photographs, having my memory refreshed, reminding me that I still having some traveling to do!

    It’s almost a year since I starting working as a transcriptionist again. Slowly I am reclaiming what I let go of in order to get myself firmly employed. It’s been a slow process but fruitful.

    Thanks so much for sharing your creative energy, bev!


    9 Feb 11 at 11:17 am

  6. I feel a pang of nostalgia when I look at these photos, but not for a sense of something from my own past, but for the past of an entire time and way of life. These are beautiful images, Bev. Like fossils and old bones of ancestors, the the things that survive the elements, but probably not the progress of modern machinery. Sigh.

    robin andrea

    9 Feb 11 at 11:40 am

  7. John – Yes, a lot of ruins are reburied after to prevent damage from the elements, vandalism, etc… especially in the case of ruins which cannot be protected or monitored.

    Sondra – One thing about southeast Utah and the Canyons of the Ancients region of Colorado is that there are fairly large tracts of protected lands which are not farmed or developed. It’s a rugged region where one can hike in to visit, and may still see ruins which are as they have been for centuries. They are not so easily accessed, so are more likely to remain undamaged by vandals, etc..

    Cathy – Thanks! I’ll be putting up a blog post about the art installation today or tomorrow. It feels like such a long haul since I’ve had the will or the energy to be creative. The CSP event did help me to get motivated and now I’m finding that my creativity seems to have been awakened.

    Mark – From all that I’ve read, this region of the southwest must have been very busy with people active and moving between countless settlements — quite in contrast to the impression that we get from the relative few ruins that have been excavated, stabilized and left accessible to the public. Rock art is visible in so many locations, that it is a good reminder that we are far from being the first to pass through a canyon. A few weeks ago, I met an archaeologist who is involved with a volunteer program for monitoring significant sites here in southeast Arizona. Apparently, there are many sites on both public and private lands, that are just sitting there in the open.

    am – I’m glad that you are enjoying the photographs taken here in Arizona. I know what you mean about the quality of the light here. I have seen similar while in California, but it has a different feel here in the desert. I think it is the dryness of the air and that the lack of humidity seems to create sharper shadow lines. There is also an incredible warmth near sunset. When out on the desert basin, it is such a wonderful thing to watch how the sunset ignites any ranges lying to the east of where one is standing, tinting them to warm pinks and oranges. I hope you are able to do some traveling – perhaps next winter if you’re able to take a break from your work. As I say to all friends – the door is always open so long as I am here.

    robin – Yes, it is true about how these places are reminders of what once existed and of all that has been lost. That said, southeast Utah still holds many secrets – so much so that one feels a little like an interloper, wandering into a place which is still under the shadow of another time.

    bev wigney

    9 Feb 11 at 11:57 am

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