CHAPTER XVIII. THE GREAT CASA GRANDE—IMPRESSIONS...


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THE GREAT CASA GRANDE—IMPRESSIONS—A PALACE, CASTLE OR WHAT?—A BILLOWY SEA OF GREEN—THE PUZZLE OF PUZZLES.

ALTHOUGH in the mines and in their mining lies the chief value and support of Arizona, if not of the nation so to speak, the pre-historic land-marks that exist on every hand in our southwest—and not only these, but the actual existence of the pre-historic people (in their descendants) that yet remain in a goodly number, constantly attract an additional class of people, in our scientists, archeologists, travelers and tourists.

In the east as well as the west—in the south as well as the north, many evidences of these have been already discovered. Major Powell, in his recent explorations on the upper Colorado River, reports ruins along its banks and on its Plateaus; and Gov. A. P K. Safford tells of some in the nearer northwest.

A little to the Southeast of the Pimo Indians, about ten miles off lies the ruins of the great Casa Grandé of Arizona. It would seem modesty and good taste in


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me to refrain from an extended description and reference to these ruins, except so far as to give a general idea of their appearance, and to complete the important features of the Territory; and then to say to the reader, there they are. Indeed in this, have we told all we know. Since the year 1694 when Father Kino from Mexico gave the first account of them every writer or narrator has drawn largely upon his imagination and still harder upon his knowledge, to throw some light upon these somewhat ancient structures. But we know nothing. The whole is mere conjecture.

After having driven a distance of ten miles southeast of the Pimo villages (or the same distance southwest from Florence), the traveler strikes upon a vast open land, slightly undulating, aud backed or encircled by picturesque mountains. The land here for miles is just diversified enough with growths of different kinds, as well as by the peculiar contour of the land to make the perspective pleasing; the undulation in some cases, amounting to small hills. If an observant traveler, you will notice in passing over some of the undulations, that they are oblong, and are remains of an acequia or aqueduct. This conflicts a little with the sentiment under which you have been traveling, and flattering yourself that you or your people were the first civilized or intelligent beings that ever trod this soil; you are amazed when by mathematical demonstrations,


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RUINS OF THE GREAT CASA GRANDE IN SOUTHERN ARIZONA.


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you find the grading and building of these acequias to be based upon practical principles equal to any our present science is able to conceive. You are now ascending a gentle grade, and a few rods bring you face to face upon a high ruin of—you don't know what; but suppose from its shape, an ancient house, supplemented on all sides by smaller ruins, of perhaps smaller houses, or of sections of the main house. Then all your energies of imagination and conjecture are strained, and the interest in the surroundings has increased. The spirit that often looms up in mute objects, holds you fast and talks to you of things you know not of, and yet tells you not of them. All that interest, enhanced by mystery, wells up in you, and you are riveted to the spot. You are standing on an elevated plateau from which you look out upon a very gentle decline, rolling in its nature, and covered with thousands of known and unknown plants and shrubs. Over this billowy green your eye is carried to the mountain outlines, and beyond. Beyond the mountains even, in the translucent atmosphere, your eye seems to wander, and if the weather is especially clear, or the time of day late, the halo, of which we have spoken in connection with other mountains, will lend a beautiful back-ground to an already grand perspective. The scene is a beautiful one, and the outlook commanding. You are standing now close by, or


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leaning against the walls of the great Casa Grandé. You turn and look upon them. You step back and lift your head to comprehend the whole structure more at a glance. The structure, or rather the main ruin, as it remains now is about sixty feet high on an average, by about forty by fifty in area. We notice appertures on the ground level which we suppose to have been door places, and above we see the square openings for windows. As we do so and comprehend these as an outlook, we turn about again and behold the grand stretch of country around on all sides, for many, many leagues. Allowing our imagination to supply the extra distance from the ground, or actually climbing up with some difficulty into the breaks, we take a second survey of the land we would crave to call our own. As we do so we are compelled, contrary to our egotism, to admit that at least, beings with some art and poetry in their souls, whether they be born of God or of the devil (as an early explorer suggested) had selected this spot for their castle. The extent of the smaller ruins around, also, and the remains of an acequia or aqueduct running around the grounds for nine miles, suggests the existence, at some previous day, of a potent city; and from the strength and duration of their walls, a well made one. We descend again from within these dumb and tantalizing walls. They will not speak to us. We have to shake


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RUINS NEAR THE GREAT CASA GRANDE.


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hands with ourselves for what we know. The Indians have a tradition that these ruins existed five hundred years ago. Down and outside, we turn and look again at the remnant of centuries.

You have by this time been worked up to a pitch of the highest interest. Who were these people? you ask. Where did they come from? and what was their end? And, like all before you, you have to answer them for yourself. No one can tell you. History has beaten itself. Now comes the Arizona problem again! Were they Aztecs? or, were they Toltecs? Did they live in the inglorious age of the Spanish conquerors, and were they crushed and annihilated by them? or were they of the earlier Toltec age, and swept off the face of the earth by the more warlike and ferocious Aztecs from the north in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries? You try to throw some light upon your ignorance by the character of the neighbor ing country and its human life. Now you are puzzled. To the south, you trace the native Mexican Indian, a personification of laziness, and intermixed with the inglorious elements that perhaps was the destroyers of the very light you crave; producing a race whose energies would scarcely build a single wall, much less a palace. To the north you have the Pimos, and Papagos; docile, industrious and affectionate in peace; brave and fearless when at war, yet slow to


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anger and merciful To the east, a little way off, the murderous Apaché looms up with all the horror of murder and death. A little further to the north again are the Moqui and Zuni people, as much different from the former as the soul from the flesh whose habits of life and industry, are proverbial for integrity and prosperity; who embody all the finer sentiments of a truly cultivated soul, whose love for one another is only equalled by their bravery and nobleness. In all these I say, we see such a vast diversity of the human race, we ask to which can we ascribe the descendency of people who once inhabited these ruined structures. Were they so scattered by some crushing power that each fragment has become an isolated portion, in a framework that has created a separate and distinct race? Were they the Toltecs crushed by the Aztecs? or, were they Aztec crushed by the ignoble—the inglorious Spanish crusaders of the sixteenth century? Were they objects born of the devil against whom the Christian was in duty bound to carry on the work of extermination? If so, nobly did that Christian do his work!

These interesting, and perhaps valuable relics to the unearthing of some lost or pre-historic knowledge, are fast going to decay. Even the little knowledge we have of them, should with a possibility, compared to a greater, warrant the government in protecting and


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preserving them. It is estimated that upwards of one hundred thousand people inhabited the Gila valley in Arizona at one time.

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