Tonto N.M, AZ 2010


While exploring Arizona during December, 2010; I made a brief stop at the Tonto National Monument. Tonto National Monument is located near Roosevelt Lake and is approximately 30 minutes north from Globe and two hours east from Phoenix. I began the morning, in Globe, Arizona with a visit to Besh-Ba-Gowah Ruins Archaeological Park.

Arizona Parks Public Domain Map.

Besh-Ba-Gowah is a 200-room prehistoric Salado masonry pueblo located atop a broad ridge overlooking Pinal Creek. The site is situated one mile southwest from Globe, Arizona.

Besh-Ba-Gowah Ruins Archaeological Park in Globe, Arizona

Pictured above, Besh-Ba-Gowah is a spectacular 200 room Salado pueblo occupied between 1250 and 1450 A.D.. Salado, a Spanish word meaning salt, is the name given to the prehistoric peoples who inhabited the Upper Salt River region between 1150 and 1450 A.D. Besh-Ba-Gowah is an Apache word meaning “place of metal” and is what Apaches first called the early mining town of Globe and Miami. this name was later given to the site.

Besh-Ba-Gowah ruins Archaeological Park

Pictured above, Besh-Ba-Gowah architecture consists of multi-storied, masonry room block clusters connected by long, narrow corridors or elongated plazas. These room blocks and corridors are situated around a large communal plaza area measuring 12 meters north–south by 27 meters east/west.

Besh-Ba-Gowah Ruins

Pictured above, all walled architecture at Besh-Ba-Gowah consists of unshaped, large to moderate-sized, granite cobble masonry laid with a clay mortar. Evidence suggests interior room walls were commonly plastered with this mortar or a more calcareous mixture resulting in white-colored finished walls. There are some indications that at least selected exterior wall surfaces were also plastered with the original clay mortar. Often the basal masonry course consisted of upright vertical slabs, presently considered characteristic of Salado masonry architecture.

Looking northwest towards Roosevelt Lake from the lower ruins at Tonto National Monument

Pictured above, Tonto Basin is viewed from the Tonto National Monument that encompasses three rugged canyons with elevations ranging from 2,300 to 3,900 feet, as well as the Salt River’s alluvial plain in the north. The park’s foci are two well-preserved cliff-dwellings, Lower Ruin and Upper Ruin. I’m taking the picture from the Lower Ruin, looking east towards Roosevelt Lake below.

The Lower Ruin at the Tonto National Monument in 2010

Pictured above, the Lower Ruin is a small “pueblo-house” built in a cave measuring 130 m wide and 10 m high. Situated some 120 m above the valley floor, the cliff dwelling looks out onto Roosevelt Lake 5 km to the northwest. The pueblo’s two-story walls, built atop loose fill, comprise rough, tapering courses (measuring 60 cm high) of local, uncut quartzite blocks adhered with a clay mortar mixed with gravel. The exterior was covered with tan-colored adobe clay, while mud was used to plaster the interior walls.

Inside the Lower Ruin at the Tonto National Monument

Pictured above, 10 doorways, rectangular and T-shaped, with wooden lintels punctuate the walls, as do loopholes on the second story. Floors are composed of packed earth and clay or bedrock, while roofs consists of one central bearing beam (viga) supported by a timber post and overlaid with sycamore or juniper poles (latía) and saguaro cactus ribs, grass, or reeds then covered with layers of adobe clay. The Lower Ruin was excavated by archaeologist Lloyd Pierson and stabilized in 1950. The above dimensions were provided from his personal notes, during that time. Apparently, steel tension rods and braces were installed to prevent lone masonry walls from tumbling, while the natural rock ledge was artificially built outwards to allow visitor traffic around the site.

Looking from the Lower Ruins at Tonto National Monument towards Roosevelt Lake.

Pictured above and along the trail to the Lower Ruins were informational signs about the native plants and animals that I would encounter on my climb to the ruins — especially all the varieties of cacti. Common types included the saguaro, teddy bear cholla, prickly pear, and barrel cactus.

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