Our Latino Heritage road trip continued towards the Southwest to Coolidge, Arizona. We had the opportunity to obtain a guided tour of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument with the National Park Service Superintendent, Karl Cordova. His staff is dedicated to conserving, preserving, and providing an atmosphere for recreation at the Casa Grande Ruins. They also reach out to the local community and visit local schools.
The Casa Grande Monument is one of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America. It is the first prehistoric and cultural site in the United States. The four story structure was built around 1300 and is located about an hour drive from Phoenix, AZ and Tuscon, AZ. The protected area spans about 472.5 acres. It’s purpose remains a mystery.
The area is also home to the largest cactus in the United States, the Saguaro cactus. A mature Saguaro cactus is about 40-50 feet tall, 125 years old and weighs about 6 tons. I felt so small next to the Saguaro cactus. The cactus was a source of food and the wood was used to create tools.
As I walked towards the structure it’s very hard to imagine that a structure made out of sand, calcium carbonate & clay is still standing after over 650 years. We learned that the area also didn’t have any water which must have made it a challenge to obtain and transport water during the period. The ancient Sonoran people did all their building without the basic tools similar to what we use today. Their basic tools were their hands, a digging stick and a planting stick. It’s amazing how much they accomplished. It’s obvious that the Sonoran desert people were very resourceful and innovative.
In speaking with the Superindendent, he advised that Archeologists discovered evidence that the ancient Sonoran Desert people who built the Casa Grande also developed wide-scale irrigation farming and extensive trade connections which lasted over a thousand years until about 1450 C.E.
The next time you’re near Tucson or Phoenix, Arizona consider going to the Casa Grande and explore the history. It will be an educational opportunity for the entire family. To discover our shared heritage at National Park Services find out what is happening in your local community or order a map of National Park Museums in the Southwest and other regions at http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/orderform.htm and plan your next roadtrip.
The #LatinoHeritage roadtrip celebrates the contributions of American Latinos throughout the national park and historic places across the country. For additional information regarding the Casa Grande Ruins, please visit http://www.nps.gov/cagr. For additional information regarding the American Latino Heritage programs, check www.alhf.org and Support the American Latino Heritage Fund. For live tweets, please follow the conversation on Twitter by checking the #LatinoHeritage hashtag on Twitter.
Disclosure: The Latino Heritage roadtrip was partially funded by American Latino Fund, Verizon Wireless & General Motors. The vehicle driven during the roadtrip was provided by General Motors. All opinions and content rights are my own.
Question: Did you know that the National Park Service is honored to connect with people in local communities? Have you visited any local National Parks are near your community? What is your favorite local National Park to visit?