The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
One of North America’s largest ancient structures ever built is known as the The Casa Grande Ruins or “Great House”. The purpose of this structure is historically unknown. Many have guessed but there is no written document or story stating its purpose or history.
There is evidence that Casa Grande was built by the Sonoran Desert people to create the ability to trade and provide irrigation farming which was in effect for over one thousand years and lasted till 1450. The Sonoran Desert people left behind no history or written language documenting their existence at Casa Grande. However in 1694 when Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino arrived he started making journal entries to document his activities and the naming of Casa Grande or “Great House” as it has been known. As time went by and others arrived in Casa Grande, documentation started to emerge reflecting back on what was seen and what was done. Articles were written by Lt. Col. Juan Bautista de Anza in 1775 and Brig. General Stephen Watts Kearny in 1846. These and subsequent written articles started to spur interest in Casa Grande and during the 1860’s the area became so popular and well known that a twenty mile railroad line and and stage coach line ran through casa Grande. This brought in more and more people and the area grew. Consequently, as the town grew, more damages and vandalism was done to the town, which is not uncommon as a town grows.
Archeologists suggest that the Sonoran Desert people are part of an earlier hunting culture. As the climate became hotter and drier, the wildlife became far more sparse resulting in a difficult place for the people to survive without meat. The introduction of corn turned them around from hunters to farmers. Even though the climate was dry and hot they made due by creating irrigation with rivers and mountain run offs to keep the ground productive and the corn growing. The Desert people, over time created a form of pottery known as “red-on-buff”. Much of this is displayed in the museum. Sunday, February 12 and 13, 2011 is the American Indian Music Festival at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. This is thr third annual festival and it is a celebration of the prehistoric connection and continuity with today’s modern American Indian cultures. The similarities are demonstrated through dance and music. Arts and crafts made by the local artisans are available for purchase and this includes authentic American Indian food delicacies.
1100 W. Ruins Drive
Coolidge, AZ 85228,
Take Interstate 10 to the Coolidge exit, follow the signs to the park entrance.
Hours: 9am to 5pm every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day (closed) – Managed by the National Park Services
Admission: $5.00 – Adults (16yrs and up); Children under 15 yrs of age – Free; School Groups call ahead to apply for “Educational Fee” waiver; Commercial Tours Groups – $5.00/person unless visitor has a valid “American the Beautiful” pass