Casa Grande National Monument is located in the Sonoran desert of Arizona, in between the cities of Coolidge and Casa Grande. Surrounded by beautiful cactus forests, the ruins of an ancient people remain for the modern day traveler to appreciate.
Believed to be built around 1300 BC, the Casa Grande (Great House) is surrounded by an earthen compound. There are several other foundations and partial structures near it. The main structure was originally four stories high. It consisted of 17 rooms. According to the United States National Park Service, "An estimated six million pounds of caliche were used in the construction of the Casa Grande. Caliche is a naturally occurring soil consisting of clay, sand and calcium carbonate found in the deserts of the southwest." It is believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes. However, the true use of the structure may never be known.
One of the interesting things about this place is the stories of the people who lived here during the time the structure was built. The Hohokam were a nomadic people until they settled in this area. Water was plentiful from the nearby Gila. The people developed an extensive network of agricultural canals and many varieties of vegetables were grown here. Not only corn but several varieties of beans and squash, as well as cotton and tobacco were grown here. Game was bountiful and there were lots of native plants to eat.
The United States National Park Service website says, "During the late 1300’s and early 1400’s, the ancient Sonoran Desert people suffered a period of widespread depopulation and abandonment. Speculations as to the cause have included drought, floods, disease, invasion, earthquakes, internal strife, and salinization of farmland. Today, several American Indian groups have ancestral links to the ancient people. Their cultural traditions, together with on-going archeology and the continued interest of visitors at Casa Grande Ruins, all combine to keep the legacy of the ancient Sonoran Desert people alive to this day.
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