Aztec Ruins National Monument (1/2)

Thursday was kind of a slow news day.  It didn’t rain, and temperatures were much more pleasant so I tried to spend much of the day outdoors.  It started off cool but warmed up to the upper 60’s by early afternoon.  I didn’t want to venture too far from Durango until I get new tires put on first thing Friday morning.  I went in to Durango in the morning, walked around town a good bit and had lunch.  I went back to the house (about 10 miles south of town) and dropped off some maps and materials I will need later, then headed about 20 miles further south to the little town of Aztec, New Mexico (I am staying in Colorado but am very close to Four Corners so 3 other states are close by).  I toured the Aztec Ruins National Monument, then went back up to Durango to spend some time relaxing and people-watching in their city parks, many of which were along the Animas River and had a paved walking/bike trail.  Lots of folks out walking, jogging and biking (schools were out by late afternoon).


The Aztec Ruins are located in Aztec, New Mexico.  Aztec was the name of the village and was NOT built or occupied by the Aztec Indian Tribe of central Mexico, which is what I would have assumed.  This village was constructed from the late 1000’s to the late 1200’s and was modeled after the villages at Chaco Canyon, which I visited earlier in the week.  Chaco is about 55 miles south of Aztec.  The villages there were thought to have been built between 850 and 1130.  The buildings here were constructed of different types of rock than those at Chaco Canyon.

And a big reason why ruins are ruins is that after these villages were abandoned, people from other groups came and pilfered the materials to build their own villages.

Aztec Ruins was declared a National Monument by Congress in 1923.  In 1987 is was declared a World Heritage Site due to it’s cultural significance.






Kind of hard to tell from the picture but in the photo below the window (or doorway) in the upper left hand corner of the photo was actually built into a corner where two walls intersect, a novel concept for when these structures were built.






Aztec Ruins – Great Kiva (1/2)

This restored Kiva is one of the main attractions at this Monument.  This was used for various religious ceremonies.  There were signs stating that this was a sacred place, and that we should be quiet and show proper respect.

This photo on the official US Park Service brochure/map (which I get at every Park and Monument I visit) shows the ruins from overhead.  The Great Kiva is the large, round structure in the lower center of the picture. I entered at the bottom and exited in the square room at the top, as seen in the photo:


This map was in the booklet each visitor was loaned, to use while touring the site and explaining what we were seeing at the various numbered stops.  The Visitor Center is at the lower left and I traveled through the property in a counter-clockwise direction:





After going through the main doorway, steps led down to a lower level where the ceremonies actually took place:


The square and rectangular pits are seen in many of the photos of kivas here and at Chaco Canyon, which I visited earlier in the week.





Aztec Ruins – Great Kiva (2/2)

More photos from inside the Great Kiva, the largest round structure on the property.

One of the two rectangular depressions in the floor of the round room, one on either side of the square pit in the center of the room:


Looking up at the ceiling of the round room:



These “windows” opened up to a series of rooms at ground level which were located around the main room and were accessible from the open doorways facing outside the structure:


Branches built in to the vertical shafts supporting the ceiling:


The ceiling above the square area after taking the steps up to ground level:


A square block looking back towards the stairs leading up out of the main round room:


A little room off to the side after getting up to ground level:


Emma Sweeny

Late in the afternoon I ended up in Santa Rita Park, one of several very nice city parks in Durango.  I saw a colorful train under a canopy and assumed it was one used on the Durango-to-Silverton line (which I will be taking on Monday).  I was wrong.  This is a movie and TV star.

The Emma Sweeny appeared in the 1950 film A Ticket to Tomahawk (before my time, I was born in 1954).  This is the actual engine and coal car but a horse-drawn mock-up was used to shoot some scenes here in Durango.  That model has been acquired by a local group and is being restored and will be placed in the railroad museum.



Kind of hard to see in the picture above but note the elk antlers above the headlight in the photo below.







This engine was also used (with a different headlight and smokestack) in the opening sequence of the TV show Petticoat Junction (1963-1970).  That show I do remember….

In the show it was called the Hooterville Cannonball.  There is a town just north of Charlotte, North Carolina called Huntersville (I lived with friends in north Charlotte for 6 months in 1994 when I moved to NC from Pennsylvania).  To this day, I like to call it Hooterville.