Originally Published: October 13, 2018 8:49 p.m.
This week we are going to enjoy some ancient Indian ruins and petroglyphs. Remember, you can visit both the Brooklyn Mine and today’s places in a single trip, so for driving directions contact me through the Courier’s senior editor, Tim Wiederaenders (use Subject: Brooklyn Rim).
Before I describe today’s visit, here is an update on the Brooklyn Mine I described last article. I asked readers to give me more info on this mine because my research hadn’t found much. Three readers were very helpful. Cal Cordes, whose recent ancestors ran the sheep station at Cordes, told me about his visit to the mine in 1936 when he was 10. Mike Spencer and Tom Blake really know their way around the Web and have shared all sorts of info about the mine. I’ll give you updates later. In future, any reader who has info to share on an Amazing Place, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
There are scores of Indian ruins and hundreds of petroglyphs in the area of the Agua Fria National Monument (AFNM). It’s worth repeating that the heyday for these Indians was the period between 1250 and 1450 AD (CE) – why they left isn’t fully understood but probably an extended drought. Because the AFNM area is isolated, some of the ruins have been looted, and some of the petroglyphs have even been cut from the cliffs where they were carved centuries ago. People who do this are criminals and have no respect for history – shame on them! Fortunately, there are many ruins and petroglyphs that can be visited and enjoyed.
We’ll begin by going to some pueblo ruins. The first photo shows a room inside one of the pueblos. The roof is long gone but this wall is still intact, neatly constructed from the local rocks – some colored sandstone, some black basalt (volcanic rock). Originally the wall was probably higher; the floor of the room has filled up a little with dirt blown in over the centuries, and the top of the wall may have crumbled. Along the Brooklyn Rim there are four small pueblos in a line, about ½ mile between ruin 1 and ruin 4 – the aerial map in the driving directions shows each pueblo was different in size (ruin 3 is the largest and best). Perhaps each pueblo housed various generations of a different family. This line of pueblos runs pretty much from north to south along the flat mesa, about 50 feet west of the rim. The rim is a volcanic cliff, whose height varies from 10 to 30 feet, sheer in most places. Below the base of the cliff, the ground slopes down into the basin, 150 feet below, where there is a small creek (and also the Mine). If you explore inside the ruins of these pueblos, don’t climb on the fragile walls. If you see any pottery sherds, don’t touch them or take them – leave them in place for future archaeologists.
The second photo shows one of the many petroglyph panels that extend for about ¼ mile below the rim. Reaching these petroglyphs could be a challenge unless you are fit and don’t mind scrambling down a gap in the cliff. Once you get to the foot of the cliff, there’s a rough path that other explorers have made for viewing the petroglyphs. In the photo, you can see various animals that were native to the area: deer, pronghorn, maybe bighorn sheep & elk, and probably a turtle at top left. Other panels show various symbols (a cross, crescent moon, spirals) as well as humans.
Nigel Reynolds was born in England and has lived in Arizona for 40 years, and in Prescott for over 20 years. “Exploring is in my blood,” he says. To see todays or previous articles with the photos in color, go online to “dcourier.com” and enter “Amazing Places” in the search-bar at top right – you’ll need to be a subscriber.