Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

This article is about Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. For Casa Grande, Arizona, see Casa Grande, Arizona.
Not to be confused with Casas Grandes.
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Map showing the location of Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Location Pinal County, Arizona, USA
Nearest city Coolidge
Coordinates 32°59′49″N 111°31′55″W / 32.9970051°N 111.5320692°W / 32.9970051; -111.5320692[1]Coordinates: 32°59′49″N 111°31′55″W / 32.9970051°N 111.5320692°W / 32.9970051; -111.5320692[1]
Area 472.5 acres (191.2 ha)[2]
Created August 3, 1918 (1918-August-03)
Visitors 65,106 (in 2013)[3]
Governing body National Park Service
Website Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
NRHP Reference # 66000192[4]
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (O'odham: Siwañ Waʼa Ki: or Sivan Vahki[5]), in Coolidge, Arizona, just northeast of the city of Casa Grande, preserves a group of Ancient Pueblo Peoples Hohokam structures of the Pueblo III and Pueblo IV Eras.

Ancient pueblos

The national monument consists of the ruins of multiple structures surrounded by a compound wall constructed by the ancient people of the Hohokam period, who farmed the Gila Valley in the early 13th century. "Archeologists have discovered evidence that the ancient Sonoran Desert people who built the Casa Grande also developed wide-scale irrigation farming and extensive trade connections which lasted over a thousand years until about 1450 C.E."[6]

"Casa Grande" is Italian and Spanish for "big house" (Siwañ Wa'a Ki: in O'odham); these names refer to the largest structure on the site, which is what remains of a four story structure that may have been abandoned by 1450. The structure is made of caliche, and has managed to survive the extreme weather conditions for about seven centuries. The large house consists of outer rooms surrounding an inner structure. The outer rooms are all three stories high, while the inner structure is four stories high. The structures were constructed using traditional adobe processes. The wet adobe is thicker at the base and adds significant strength. Horizontal cracks can be noticed and this defines the breaks between courses on the thick outer walls.[7] The process consisted of using damp adobe to form the walls and then waiting for it to dry, and then building it up with more adobe. Casa Grande contained a ball court much like that found at Pueblo Grande de Nevada. Father Eusebio Kino was the first European to view the Hohokam complex in November 1694 and named it Casa Grande.[8] Graffiti from 19th-century passers-by is scratched into its walls; though this is now illegal. Casa Grande now has a distinctive modern roof covering built in 1932.

Administrative history

In 1891, the monument underwent repairs supervised by Cosmos Mindeleff of the Bureau of American Ethnology, until funds ran out. Proclaimed Casa Grande Reservation by an order of President Benjamin Harrison on June 22, 1892, Casa Grande Ruins became the first prehistoric and cultural reserve in the US. It was then re-designated a national monument by President Woodrow Wilson on August 3, 1918. As with all historical areas administered by the National Park Service, Casa Grande was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.

Historic adobes

Between 1937 and 1940 the Civilian Conservation Corps built several adobe buildings to serve as housing and administrative offices for the National Monument. The adobe buildings, constructed using traditional methods, continue in use today and are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Because of careful conservation, the physical appearance of Casa Grande Ruins has hardly changed since the 1940s.[6]

Olmsted shelter

In 1932, a ramada was built to shelter the ruins from weathering by Boston architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.[9] In the early 21st century, a pair of Great horned owls took up residence in the rafters of the Olmsted shelter.[10]

The current protective structure covering the "Great House" replaced a wooden similar structure built to protect it in 1932. Due to the fragile nature of the "Great House", visitors to the site are not permitted inside. Observation is permitted outside the structure only for visitors to protect its integrity.

Images of the Casa Grande Ruins
(National Register of Historic Places)
West wall of the Casa Grande ca. 1880 
The east side of the Casa Grande ca. 1900 
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Visitor Center in 1934 
Main entrance to the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. 
Written historic accounts of the Casa Grande begin with the journal entries of Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino when he visited the ruins in 1694. 
A close up view of the Big House 
Doorway to the Big House. 
Back view of the Big House 
Side view of the Big House. 
Inside the Big House. 
Different view of the Casa Grande Big House. 
Different view of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. 
Different view of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. 

See also


  1. 1 2 "Casa Grande Ruins National Monument". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
  2. "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2013". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
  3. "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
  4. National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  5. "History of the Gila River Water Settlement Act of 2004, Chapter 1: Roots" (PDF).
  6. 1 2 "Casa Grande Ruins: History & Culture". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-06-29.
  7. Dean R. Snow (2010). Archaeology of Native North America. Pennsylvania State University.
  8. "An American Pompeii Unearthed in Arizona". The Washington, D.C. (p. 5). Washington, D.C. January 17, 1909 via .
  9. "Pre-History Meets Modernity: Casa Grande Ruins National Monument". Retrieved 2011-06-29.
  10. Rotstein, Arthur H. (February 13, 2005). "Air and Ground Assaults Threaten Arizona Ruins". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2011-06-29.


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