The History of Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
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CASA GRANDE NATIONAL MONUMENT, in the Gila River Valley of south central Arizona, protects and preserves the Casa Grande (the Great House) and other remains of villages built and occupied by Indians in pre-Columbian times. The original reservation of 480 acres was made in 1892, under Congressional authority dated March 2, 1889. Administered by the General Land Office until the National Park Service was established, the area became a National Monument in 1918.

Dominating the landscape is the Casa Grande itself, an off-set or stepped tower of caliche, with the central section rising four stories high; within the walled enclosure of its town are the remains of one, two, and three-storied buildings, weathered by the passage of some 600 years of time (Fig. 1). Scattered over the rest of the National Monument are the ruins of additional walled-in villages, or "compounds", and of other prehistoric remains.

Fig. 1. A model of the Casa Grande and newly excavated rooms of Compound A, as they appeared about 1907. (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology photograph).

The Casa Grande was first visited by a European in 1694, when this region represented the unexplored northwestern frontier of New Spain.

Now it is visited by some 50,000 people a year [1] and lies on a trans-continental highway, halfway between the cities of Tucson and Phoenix, and only a mile from the town of Coolidge, Arizona. The National Monument is open to visitors the year around.

Since 1694 visitors have conjectured as to the origin and history of the builders of the Casa Grande and neighboring ruins; the general outline of their story is fairly well known now, but some of the details are still not clear. There have been periodic archaeological excavations on Casa Grande National Monument since 1891, but no one site has yet been completely excavated and much investigation remains to be done.

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Last Updated: —2009