Monday, March 25, 2013

Verde Canyon Railroad

The Verde Canyon Railroad was originally built to haul copper from the mines in Jerome and later people, livestock and supplies to several local ranches in the Verde Valley.

                              Scenic passenger excursions began  from Clarkdale in 1990.

Passengers actually purchase two seats for the price of one because tickets include both inside seating and bench seating on open-air viewing cars.

The weather was perfect today and we enjoyed the scenery from this open-air car.

          The four hour round trip was well narrated by excellent guides on each car.
Several Sinagua cliff dwellings, dating back to 600AD, are seen along the trip.

The Sinagua are thought to be the first residents of the Verde Canyon.

                                We pass through one tunnel on the trip.

There are several old bridges to cross and many nice views of the Verde River.

          The trip ends in Perkinsville, the turn-around point on the passenger line.

This was once a water stop for the original steam locomotives.

When the railroad switched to diesel locomotives, Perkinsville evolved into a ghost town.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Red Rock Scenic Byway

Our drive today took us on the Red Rock Scenic Byway south of Sedona, Arizona.

                         This area is famous for its red rock color and formations.

The destination is the V Bar V Ranch and the petroglyphs there.  

The petroglyphs on this sandstone bluff-1032 have been identified so far-  make up the largest and best preserved petroglyph site in the Verde Valley.  Most were done over 800 years ago-between AD 1150 and 1400.  

This petroglyph area contains concentric circles and snake-like figures suggesting a system for marking time.

To mark time, petroglyphs were placed in specific locations that align with the light and shadow effects cast by two boulders caught in the crevice above.

The summer solstice and spring and fall equinox were easily determined in this way.  Corn planting was a central focus of this calendar.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tuzigoot National Monument

Tuzigoot National Monument is located 52 miles south of Flagstaff near Clarkdale, Arizona.

      It crowns the summit of a long ridge that rises 120 feet above the Verde Valley.

At one time the settlement was home to around 250 people and had up to 110 rooms, some 2-3 stories high, but was abandoned sometime in the 15th century.

Here one finds the remains of one of the largest and best preserved ruins of the 12th century Sinagua Indians in the Verde River valley, built between 1000-1400 AD.

The site was excavated from 1933-1935 by the University of Arizona and the museum has a nice display of artifacts found at the site.

These were peaceful village dwellers with a nice climate, rich soil and water in the valley.

They were primarily farmers with trade connections for hundreds of miles and supplemented their crops by hunting and gathering.

Pottery from the Hopi Mesas, seashells from the Pacific Ocean, and the remains of a scarlet macaw from Mexico are all evidence of the ties to communities far from the Verde Valley.

Archaeologists found many pieces of Jeddito yellow ware-- a pottery type made only at the Hopi Mesas to the northeast.  These beautiful bowls indicate a shared religion or belief system. During gatherings or ceremonies, people may have brought them filled with food as an offering.

We will soon be heading to Hopiland and the Mesas on the Hopi Reservation to learn more about this native American culture.