Gila Cliff Dwellings


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The doorways were made in a TThe doorways were made in a TThe doorways were made in a T

shape, so they could see a large area, but the doorway was small. Notice the wall (of a room) on the left. We had to come up another set of wooden steps to get into the cave. The trees you can see are on the opposite side of the canyon.,
(Gila Cliff Dwellings)

Our last sight-seeing adventure before we left Glenwood was a Saturday trip to the Gila (pronounced He la) Cliff Dwellings. We went with Jeff & Alyce, the camp managers. The dwellings are only 38 miles from camp if you can fly there, but if you have to drive it’s a distance of 150 miles~~remember that we’re in the mountains, and the roads can’t go the shortest distance! And the miles are windy (and windy) and slow going. But soooo worth it!

There are seven caves involved, and the Mogollon Indians had forty individual structures built within these caves. The first documentation of the caves was in 1884, but the anthropologist that discovered them revealed that vandals had already damaged walls and roofs, and removed the pots and tools. I thought cliff dwellings were where a tribe of Indians lived in a cave, but they had private rooms and living quarters, as well as a communal cooking area. They are very well thought out for protection as well as comfort~~ the rooms were built with security as well as comfort in mind. To get to them we had to walk up one side of the Gila River, cross a bridge, and then climb a narrow path to the first cave. From the inside the security is very obvious, because they can’t be reached without crossing the river, and I think getting to them over the top of the mountain would be really difficult. Some rooms were easier to see the purpose than others (not by us, but by the scientists), and they still have a couple rooms that the archeologists can’t decide what they were used for. Each room is so uniquely shaped. To think of people being able to build something like that is an eye-opener.

Enjoy!



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Here we are at the same levelHere we are at the same level
Here we are at the same level

as the dwellings...this was my first clue that they didn't just live in the cave, like I thought. It looks like several different caves, but it's really one huge cave with several different dwellings in it. From where we're standing we had to wind around narrow paths to get to them.
You can see the see the blacknessYou can see the see the blackness
You can see the see the blackness

on ceiling of the cave...I'll show you a closeup later. This also lets you see how we had to get up to where they live; I'm not sure how they got up there, but we climbed these decent steps.
This picture is a little hard to understand, This picture is a little hard to understand,
This picture is a little hard to understand,

but it's worth the effort. We're at the top and back of the cave; the black is the ceiling, that has been covered with the grease and soot from cooking. The floor is smooth here, whereas at the front (opening) of the cave it was layered with rock. I didn't touch the ceiling (because of threat of losing a hand), but it looked like you would be able to pick off the charred rock.)
One of the rooms in the cave.One of the rooms in the cave.
One of the rooms in the cave.

We could see the holes where the support beams for the roof had been. Most of the rooms had a roof for privacy, but the rooms were completely within the cave. PS There is NOT a man sitting in the corner...it's just a hat on a shelf!
I wish this one was lighter, butI wish this one was lighter, but
I wish this one was lighter, but

with the sun in the background it couldn't happen. Bob is looking down into one of the rooms (which were all different sizes), and there's a room to his left, and one behind him.
The passage between one roomThe passage between one room
The passage between one room

and the next set of rooms. I almost want to call them buildings, because families lived in them, but cooked as a group (tribe?).
Outside the cave looking in; Outside the cave looking in;
Outside the cave looking in;

notice how the wall is made of stones stacked together, and held there with a mortar of clay and water; it was three stories high at this point. (See the T doorway? The beam sticking out is part of the roof on the second level. Amazing that they could do all this...
I'm standing in one room lookingI'm standing in one room looking
I'm standing in one room looking

over a wall at several other rooms. Most of the room led from one to another, but we did find a group of three rooms that didn't seem to have any access at all...we figured there must have been an entrance behind them at the back of the cave.
Looking down into a room.Looking down into a room.
Looking down into a room.

Can you see where the beams were that once held a roof?
This picture still amazes me.This picture still amazes me.
This picture still amazes me.

See the narrow walkway in front of the buildings. It's like a sidewalk in front of properties, and then the mountain drops off sharply, so enemies wouldn't be able to attack them from below.
An outside view.An outside view.
An outside view.

You can see the beams that denote the different levels clearly on this picture. Plus, they have a walkout lower level!
This is the drop off in front of the walkway.This is the drop off in front of the walkway.
This is the drop off in front of the walkway.

And the "escalator" to get down!
This was a wall, but it is no more!This was a wall, but it is no more!
This was a wall, but it is no more!

The sign says stay out, but I knew that even without a sign...


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