Pueblo ruins dot the Verde Valley in central Arizona; remnants of the Sinagua people from the time period between 1100 and 1450 AD. Recently, a visit to one of the largest and best preserved of these – Tuzigoot National Monument – was made by Larry and Lee Ann and their experience is documented in their online Trip Journal, Larry & Lee Ann’s Journey.

20091272334485The name “Tuzigoot” is a term originating from the Apache language meaning crooked water. The term applies to the nearby Peck’s Lake, which is a runoff from the Verde River. The site has provided a great deal of information and insight to the Sinagua people through excavation; over 400 burial sites have been located in the hillside. The structures themselves also give a glimpse into their lifestyle of the time; the large pueblo has two stories that in all contain 110 rooms. It is likely that hundreds of Sinagua people were living in this and other pueblo homes.

The land was purchased by Yavapai County in Arizona for the paltry sum of $1.00; a sale which enabled the land to pass from United Verde and Phelps Dodge to the County allowing excavation to continue. In the hands of Yavapai County, federal relief grants were able to be secured to finance the research project once the land was turned over to the Federal Government.

20091272334480Excavation of the pueblo and surrounding area was completed through the University of Arizona, headed up by Louis Caywood and Edward Spicer. From 1933 to 1935, the ruins were carefully and painstakingly exhumed. During this period, funding was made possible through the Civic Works Administration and Works Project Administration. The next year was devoted to preparing the monument for public display, with additional funding through the Federal government provided.

Now the area that once was a lively, active community of a historic people is a museum filled with fascinating artifacts of the Sinaguas; a rare opportunity for interested visitors to learn about their ancient culture. Displayed within the museum are pictures of the diligent efforts of the many people assisting in the excavation.

After visiting the museum and exploring the pueblo ruin, yet another wonderful experience awaits the visitor to Tuzigoot. Two trails, the Ruins Loop and Tavasci Marsh Overlook trails allow tourists to mosey along the trails as they view the ruins. The view from the trails is incredible, as the landscape stretches out for miles before admiring eyes.

With Tuzigoot being situated at the top of a ridge overlooking the Verde River, much of the surrounding countryside is visible from the top of the Ruins Loop Trail; further enhancing the experience of both the ruins and the trail. Even those who normally do not indulge in trail walking, with each trail measuring only a quarter of a mile in length and the beautiful views to be seen, the walk will soon be over.

As Larry and Lee Ann discovered when they visited Tuzigoot in central Arizona, amazing pieces of ancient history can be found and enjoyed at this National monument; a peek into the past at a long lost culture.

Dan Parlow

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