NOTE: As mentioned some time ago, the comments function of this blog no longer work. I tried to get the problem sorted out before going on the road last autumn, but to no avail. I finally resorted to setting up a new blog at another URL. It contains all of the posts that reside at this URL, but also has all of the missing comments and allows new comments to be posted. You can find the version of this post to which you can post comments here. I’ll try to remember to put up new posts here, but I suggest updating your bookmark to the new URL.
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.
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