Our mission is to proceed to Mesa Verde National Park, whose Centennial is next year, to design a poster for the event. We are granted permission to visit Square Tower, shown above from the road, which has been closed to the public since 1940. Our descent from the plateau rim begins down an aluminum ladder where we can see steps that the Ancestral Puebloans carved into the rock–no sissy ladders for them! They would farm beans, corn and squash above and live below in these alcoves. These “cliff dwellings” were built and occupied only for about 150 years from 1150 to about 1300 AD and marked the culmination of this society here in the high plateaus of Colorado. Today they live on as Zunis, Hopis and many other Indian tribes further south.
After the treacherous ladder business, we then had to squeeze through a very narrow slot which reminded me how long it has been since I was a svelt and trim ranger.
Here we are at the ruins, opps, not supposed to use that word–it might upset the Anasazis, er, I mean Ancestral Puebloans…..cliff dwellings would be more descriptive. In just 20 years since I visited this Park, many of the terms and theories have changed radically to describe these peoples and their lives. It’s hard to keep up with the new PC terms. Here the square tower is obvious but look at the tiny “crows nest” at the upper right above Martina’s head–this is a full 50 feet above the floor below–what craftsmen and what a view!
Here’s a look up inside the Square Tower at the many levels. In the lower left corner (inset) is a cob of corn left over 700 years ago!
Here is a Kiva, a ceremonial place where they built fires. They are very cleverly built with draft flues to feed the fires, baffles to direct the flow and very clever roof designs. This is the only complete Kiva in the Park and was used to reconstruct many others. We can only peer inside as they are very fragile structures today.
Well, it’s been an exhausting day and we’ve taken many photos that we will use for the project. We squeeze back through the rocks and reclimb the ladders to our car. It isn’t easy being a Ranger of the Lost Art! Stay tuned….