Arizona December 05, 2017
The Hauntingly Beautiful Place In Arizona That Humans Left Behind
The ancient Sonoran Desert People lived and thrived in Arizona for more than a thousand years. The Casa Grande was a massive undertaking for this advanced society, and it’s believed that the structures were completed around 1300. But by 1450 it had been abandoned, and no one is sure exactly why.
The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is located at 1100 W. Ruins Drive in Coolidge, Arizona.
The ancient Sonoran Desert People were a sophisticated culture that evolved from hunter-gatherers to an agricultural society.
They lived in the southwest for thousands of years, and developed some very advanced dwellings and large, walled compounds like the one at Casa Grande. These people had advanced canal systems that enabled them to plant corn, beans squash and even cotton and tobacco. They also conducted trade with other people.
The large walled compound is typical of the ancient Sonoran Desert People.
This place once contained homes, a public gathering space and the Great House. While pit houses were an earlier kind of housing for the Sonoran Desert People, more advanced above-ground homes were made of caliche (earth that had special compounds similar to concrete). Caliche homes were the kind built at Casa Grande.
The Great House is a large, four-story caliche structure. Archaeologists aren't sure of its purpose, but it is impressive.
The building would have required a massive communal effort to construct, so it was definitely important to the people who built it. A protective awning was placed over the Great House in the 1930s. Visitors can walk right up to the Great House and peer inside, but cannot enter due to its fragility.
Archeologists believe that the ancient Sonoran Desert People also enjoyed sports.
More than 200 oval-shaped courts have been found across Arizona, and archeologists believe they were likely used to play a game with two teams and a ball. The Casa Grande Ruins contains one of these ball courts, which can be viewed from a platform on the site.
In the mid 1400s, the people who inhabited Casa Grande disappeared.
There are many theories about why the people left this place. Drought, earthquake, floods or even conflict with neighboring cultures may have drive the Sonoran Desert People away from the communities they built. Many Native American tribes are related to these ancient people.
Learn more about the ancient Sonoran Desert People and the ruins at Casa Grande by visiting the interpretive center.
The center has displays of artifacts, a short video and tons of information about the people who once thrived here. During the winter, it's open every day except for Christmas, from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Take a free tour of the compound and learn even more about this remarkable place. Between November and April, guided tours are offered every hour.
Have you visited Casa Grande National Monument? Tell us about your visit!
If you’re interested in Arizona’s history, take a look at these
7 horrifying Arizona stories you didn’t learn about in history class.