Liz and I took a day trip to the Casa Grande ruins this morning.
The ruins date to circa 1350 C.E., and were constructed by the Hohokam, the earliest known inhabitants of this region of Arizona. Evidence of the Hohokam dates back to 350 C.E., when they created a massive network of canals for irrigation. The Hohokam might have roamed the desert as early as 2000 B.C.
These canals are the basis of our modern canal system, and modern man has done little to improve on them. The Hohokam were an agrarian society, occupying villages year round, cultivating and growing cotton, corn and tobacco among other crops.
Casa Grande – “Big House” – was first discovered in 1694 – it had been abandoned for centuries at that time. The Hohokam left no written record, so all that is known has been pieced together by archeologists and a lot of guess-work. Nobody knows why they left the city around 1450, a hundred years after they built it.
The area still has the remnants of the foundations of several compounds – and was once surrounded by a wall. The government realized the significance of the ruins and in 1892 took steps to restore and protect them. A structure was erected over the main building to protect it from further erosion.
We are fortunate to live in an area that boasts many prehistoric ruins. Casa Grande is less than an hour drive south of Apache Junction. As we drove south I noticed that the mighty Saguaro disappeared from the landscape, and the creosote bushes were replaced by fields of cotton.
Cotton is one of Arizona’s Five C’s – cotton, copper, citrus, climate and cattle. Arizona cotton is some of the highest quality – owing to the lack of rain that compromises the plant. This same lack of precipitation is one of the reasons the state produces less cotton every year – the crop is water intensive.
Well, enough history lessons for the day. Next Saturday we plan to hike to Black Mesa. Today I am enjoying the mild weather, sitting on my patio, smoking a really cheap cigar and sipping cheap beer!