This morning I set out for Puerco Pueblo, an area of the park that contains a village that was home to Ancestral Puebloan people from about 1200-1300 A.D. The culture was formerly known as Anasazi, a Navajo/Diné term meaning 'enemy ancestors,' but because of the negative connotation that term is now avoided. These Puebloans are believed to be the ancestors of today's Hopi and Zuni, who consider the site a Traditional Cultural Property. It is also home to the one solstice marker I knew about and the window was closing on the time it would still be relevant.
I got to Puerco at about 0820, just in time to see a family from Austin ready to pile back into their camper and move on down the road. I roped them into viewing the solstice with me. Also a couple from Dallas and Nottingham, another family from Philly, a single man from I don't know where, and a final family from Green Bay, if their shirts were any indication. It was a blast. I know next to nothing compared to the real interpreters that rove the park, but I never let something like that stop me.
The marker is among a jumble of huge rocks near the people in the photo above. You have to know it's there and, even with signs at the site explaining what and where, it's hard to see without someone pointing it out.
|What you can't see at the bottom of the poster, created by a hugely talented employee, a graphic designer, is "A Public Service Brought to You by Ancient Puebloan People and the Sun."|
Above and to the left of this rock is another one with a cleft in it, which casts a ray of light that progresses down the rock face.
|It's the small spiral that's important at this time of year. You can see the ray edging its way closer to the corner.|
This area is also home to a former CCC camp, down in the valley below the rocks. It housed about 200 men, coming and going, during the '20s and '30s. The CCC played a huge part in taking the park from National Monument status to National Park. Nearly every man-made object in the park was built, constructed, or dug by the CCC, including the building below which was the original entrance station to the park. The fact that it's at Puerco, nearly half-way through the park, shows how the boundaries have expanded over time, and continue to do so. The building is being restored, more or less, to its original state and will house an archeology exhibit. I was there one day when the vigas, the wooden poles, were being pounded into place by hand.
|There it is, the sun ray making its way toward the spiral.|
Back to the solstice marker. Here the ray is moving closer to the center of the spiral.
|It's made contact and is moving through the marker.|
A couple more glyphs, out of many, on the rocks in the area.
Here's another building constructed by the CCC. It housed a gasoline pump that sent water from here to the south end of the park, about 13 miles, through culverts dug by hand and machine, sometimes having to blast through rock. For this work they were paid $30 a month plus room and board, and had to send $25 of that amount home to their families. This building is also being renovated or restored, I'm not sure which.
|The pump station which sent water to the south end of the park.|
Finally, a photo of the pueblo ruins. There were about 100 rooms built around a central courtyard or common area, and housed about 200 people. They made their living farming and hunting, getting their water from the Puerco River and from seeps that occurred around the land. All pretty dry now.
That was my morning. It was beautiful, not yet hot, and a lot of fun talking to folks from all over.
Thought of the day:
How time flies when you's doin' all the talking. (Harvey Fierstein)