Spanish Entradas and Father Kino
by Frederic Remington, 1897.
Coronado Discovers Zuni,
by Carl Oscar Borg, 1931.
Spanish exploration of the Southwest often exemplified feats of great
preservation, determination and daring. Some of the earliest expeditions
skirted the Hohokam area but did not penetrate its heartland (Cabeza de
Vaca, 1528-1536; Fray Marcos de Niza, 1539; and Coronado 1540).
Father Eusebio Kino was the first European to explore the Hohokam region.
Born in Italy and educated in Germany, Father Kino arrived in New Spain in
1681 at age 36. In 1687, the Jesuit Order appointed Father Kino missionary
to serve PimerÃa Altaâ€”land of the upper Pima. Kino steadily
worked his way into present-day Arizona, establishing a circuit of missions
that included San JosÃ© de TumacÃ¡cori (1691), Los Santos Ãngeles de Guevavi
(1691) and San Xavier del Bac (1692).
In addition to his duties as a Catholic priest, Father Kino was also an
explorer and map-maker. He traveled thousands of miles exploring the
Gila River region to where the Gila connects with the Salt River. He
interacted with Akimel Oâ€™odham (Pima) and Tohono Oâ€™odham (Papago) and other
Native American peoples, and left the first descriptions of the remains of
Casa Grande National Monument.
In 1694, Father Kino visited Casa Grande:
â€œThe Casa Grande is a four story building, as large as a castle and equal to
the largest church in these lands of Sonora. Close to this Casa Grande there
are thirteen smaller houses, somewhat more dilapidated, and the ruins of
many others, which make it evident that in ancient times there had been a
city here. On this occasion and on later ones I have learned and heard, and
at times have seen, that further to the east, north, and west are seven or
eight more of these large old houses and the ruins of whole cities, with
many broken metates and jars, charcoal, etc.â€
John Russell Bartlett
Bartlettâ€™s drawing of Mesa Grande,
view looking east in 1852.
John Russell Bartlett
Following the Mexican War in 1850, John Russell Bartlett was appointed to
the United States-Mexican Boundary Survey Commission. While living with the
Oâ€™odham on the Gila River he learned about the large prehistoric mounds in
the Salt River Valley to the north. Following his Oâ€™odham guides, he
traveled up the Gila River to its confluence with the Salt River and turned
east into what is now the Phoenix metropolitan area. On July 4th, 1852 he
approached what is now the city of Mesa:
â€œA ride of a mile brought us to the table-land, when we made for a large
mound or heap which arose from the plain. In crossing the bottom we passed
many irrigating canals; and along the base of the plateau was one from
twenty to twenty-five feet wide, and from four to five feet deepâ€¦.â€
"On reaching the great pile, I found it to be the remains of an adobe
edifice â€¦. its sides facing the cardinal points. Portions of the wall were
visible in only two places, one near the summit, at the south end, where,
from the height of the pile, it must have originally been three or four
stories high; and the other at the northern extremity, on the western side.
These remains just projected above the mass of rubbish and crumbled walls.
The rest formed rounded heaps of various heights and dimensions, worn into
deep gullies by the rain . . . . From the summit of the principal
heap, which is elevated from twenty to twenty-five feet above the plain,
there may be seen in all directions similar heaps; and about a mile to the
east, I noticed a long range of them running north and south, which the
Indians said were of similar character to that on which we stood. In every
direction the plain was strewn with broken potteryâ€¦.."
Painting from the boundary expedition
of a mountain near Rio Gila (Gila Butte?) by Henry Cheever Pratt, published
in Bartlettâ€™s book.
Watercolor of the Pueblo Grande Mound
by Adolph Bandelier.
Becoming bored by the responsibilities of his family business, Swiss born
Adolph Francis Alphonse Bandelier became a student of Lewis Henry Morgan,
one of the pioneers of American anthropology. While lacking a formal
education, Bandelier transformed himself into a prominent authority on the
history and prehistory of the American Southwest.
His explorations of this area in the late 1800s transformed the publicâ€™s
understanding of the region. Bandelier was one of the first to chronicle the
prehistoric remains in the Salt River Valley, creating watercolor prints of
several major ruins, including the Pueblo Grande platform mound. While he
did not write a description of Mesa Grande, he did note in his journal that
he caught â€œa glimpse of the huge mounds at Mesa City.â€ Clearly, he was
speaking about the Mesa Grande platform mound and perhaps also the second
mound to the east, located at Country Club Drive and the Tempe Canal.
Bandelierâ€™s explorations captured the imagination of the public about the
Southwest and laid the groundwork for future studies.
Frank Hamilton Cushing
Frank Hamilton Cushing.
Frank Hamilton Cushing by
Thomas Eakins, 1895.
Justly famous for his work at Zuni from 1879 to 1884, Frank Hamilton
Cushing led the Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition to the Salt
River Valley in 1887 and conducted the first professional excavations in
After working briefly at Mesa Grande, Cushing moved his excavations to a
large site called El Pueblo de Los Muertos (City of the Dead) located in
Cushingâ€™s notes and journals tell us about the archaeological remains in the
valley before many were destroyed by development, including this trip to
â€œEarly on the following morningâ€¦we followed the road which leads eastward
along the southern side of the Saladoâ€¦to the only moderately high but even
more level and extensive gravel-strewn plateau, here dignified by the name
of "Mesa." As we turned the summit I was first able to see near at
hand the remainsâ€¦of the most extensive ancient settlement we had yet seen,
or I had ever dreamed would be possible for us to find within the limits of
the United States. Before us,â€¦a long series of elevations which I at once
recognized as house- and pyral-mounds, lay stretched out in seemingly
endless successionâ€¦monotonously distributed low mounds, there stood the
yellow, almost angular slopes of the great central temple-mound which had
once formed the place of worship and citadel of the dwellers in this
far-reaching cluster of pueblos. I could not resist the temptation to
turn from the road and visit this tremendous mound. It was the largest
and with one exception the highest we ever found in the Southwest."
Warren K. Moorehead
Mooreheadâ€™s 1897 photograph of Mesa
View from the west today.
Called by some the â€œDean of American Archaeology,â€ Warren K. Moorehead
was an early practitioner in the field of American archaeology. Moorehead
wrote broadly on American archaeology, especially the mound builders of the
Eastern United States. In the late nineteenth century, archaeology was a
field that generally lacked professional training and established field
methods. While Moorehead took several years of college courses, he never
earned a degree, and his contemporaries often criticized his fieldwork. As
with many early archaeologists, Moorehead focused primarily on collecting
artifacts for museum display.
In 1897 Moorehead, with a crew of five men, spent a week excavating at Mesa
Grande. Much of his effort went into digging a large trench from the ground
level to the high point on the south end of the mound. While he published
his work at Mesa Grande in 1906, the report lacks useful detail. Moorehead
commented in his report that â€œthe building [Mesa Grande] is so extensive
that the work done appears insignificant--a mere scratching.â€
Warren K. Moorehead.
Herbert Patrick and Early Mapping
Herbert Patrickâ€™s 1903 map.
Members of the Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition
(1886-1894) under the director of Frank Hamilton Cushing produced some of
the first maps of the prehistoric sites and canals in the Salt River Valley.
Draftsman F.W. Hodge and topographer Charles Garlick, members of the
expedition, produced a map that was limited in scope. Cushing found that
Goodwin, a local rancher, was very familiar with the sites and prehistoric
canals and requested that he make a map based on his knowledge of the area.
Herbert Patrick produced one of the first maps to cover the entire valley.
Patrick was a professional surveyor and map maker and his map was accurate
for the time. His interest in the prehistoric villages and canals lead him
to begin recording them as early as 1884.
A printed copy of Patrickâ€™s map was finally released in 1903 along with a
small booklet entitled The Ancient Canal Systems and Pueblos of the Salt
River Valley. Information from Patrickâ€™s map and those of the Hemenway
Expedition were incorporated in Turneyâ€™s maps in the 1920s. This information
is invaluable to archaeologists today.
Omar A. Turney
In the early 1900s, Dr. Omar A. Turney was the face of archaeology in the
Salt River Valley. An engineer who worked for the City of Phoenix, Turney
became interested in the prehistoric irrigation canals in the Salt River
Valley. This interest led to the creation of the first comprehensive map of
the prehistoric canals and villages of the Salt River Valley (1922). A
companion brochure entitled The Land of the Stone Hoe provided the
basic information on the people Turney called â€œThe Canal Buildersâ€ to the
citizens of Phoenix. Turneyâ€™s Prehistoric Irrigation in Arizona,
difficult to find today, was widely read in Phoenix for decades. Turney
provided support and training to Frank Midvale, a young man with a burning
interest in archaeology. This is perhaps Turneyâ€™s most enduring legacy.
Of the ancient people, Turney wrote (1929:129):
â€œâ€¦the greatest irrigation achievement of ancient man in America had been
wrought in this, the land of Forgotten America. These were the Original
Engineers, the true Pioneers; the feats performed with the Stone Axe and the
Stone Hoe demanded as lofty purpose and high courage as those created with
later day devices.â€
â€œTheir middens have been leveled, their shards have been read, their era
told. Treasure their artifacts, you who live in Phoenix, the city from them
so well named. Are they yours alone: are they not rather the heritage of one
race to another?â€
Harold S. Gladwin
Harold Gladwin at Gila Pueblo.
Harold Gladwin amassed a personal fortune on the stock market by 1922 and
then abruptly left to pursue his lifelong passion, archaeology.
Following the suggestion of Alfred Kidder, Gladwin began research to define
the culture that he called the Hohokam. With his wife Winifred he founded
Gila Pueblo Archaeological Foundation in 1928 in Globe, Arizona. Using his
own funds, he built a research center on top of an archaeological site
originally known as Healy Pueblo. The site was excavated and the research
center, constructed in the style of a pueblo, was built directly atop the
Gladwin established his own method for defining cultures and time periods
based on prehistoric ceramics and began a search for the â€ Red on Buffâ€
culture, locating the limits of Hohokam occupation in Arizona. He then
turned to establishing a chronology by excavating Hohokam sites of different
time periods. His most famous excavations were at the site of Snaketown, a
site that spanned much of Hohokam culture history. Gladwin died in 1983 at
the age of 100.
Haury in the field in Tsegi Canyon in
Emil Haury and Byron Cummings at the
Double Adobe mammoth kill site in 1926.
Fondly known by all as â€œDoc,â€ Emil Haury became the dean of Hohokam
studies and a major contributor to Southwestern archaeology. After earning
his bachelorâ€™s (1927) and masterâ€™s (1928) degrees at the University of
Arizona, Harold Gladwin hired Haury at Gila Pueblo Archaeological Foundation
As part of the Gila Pueblo staff, Haury conducted extensive field work
throughout the Southwest, with a focus on the Hohokam. His excavations at
Snaketown in the 1930s established the Hohokam chronology and defined
Hohokam material culture. Gladwin supported Hauryâ€™s study at Harvard
University, where he wrote a dissertation on Frank Hamilton Cushingâ€™s
earlier work in the Valley.
Returning to the University of Arizona, Haury worked to define the
prehistoric culture known as the Mogollon, did the key work defining the
earlier desert cultures known as the Archaic Period, and continued to
research the Paleoindian mammoth hunters of Arizona. His work at Snaketown
is among his greatest legacies, particularly his excavations there in 1964
and 1965 that resulted in his book The Hohokam: Desert Farmers and