CASA GRANDE BECOMES A GOVERNMENT RESERVATION
By 1880 the Southern Pacific Railroad had been built from the west coast to Tucson, Arizona, with a station, only 20 miles away, named in honor of the Casa Grande. The Great House was now accessible, without undue hardship, to both thoughtful and thoughtless visitors.
For every traveler or settler who carved his name on the ancient walls or took home a broken timber or bowl for a souvenir, there were probably 10 others who only looked and hoped that the building could be preserved and protected for the future.
But there was no protection, in law or in fact. Newspaper articles of the period relate: the plan of an official of the railroad to "take men and tools" and examine the ruins of Casa Grande (Arizona Daily Star, 2/10/80); that the "Great House" has been covered with painted signs by a local grocerymnan (Phoenix Herald, 7/27/88); the plan to restore and re-roof the Casa Grande using the building itself as a museum and the nucleus of an Indian training school (Arizona Republic, 1/12/91).
The Great House was saved from becoming an unprotected tourist curiosity and hunting ground for souvenir collectors by the awakening of national interest in the archaeology of southern Arizona.
Adolph F. Bandelier, noted anthropologist and historian, wrote of the Casa Grande and its probable significance and background in 1883-1884 (Mindeleff 1896: 297).
In 1887-1888 the Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition excavated ruins of a similar culture in the Salt River Valley (Haury 1945: 5). Financed by Mrs. Mary Hemenway of Massachusetts and led, first by Frank H. Cushing, and later by J. W. Fewkes, this expedition included Bandelier, Dr. F. W. Hodge of the Bureau of American Ethnology, and Dr. Herman F. C. ten Kate of Holland. The Boston Herald of April 15, 1888 carried an account of some of the discoveries of the Hemenway Expedition, written by its home secretary Sylvester Baxter (Haury 1945:9). This, later reprinted as a pamphlet, evidently crystallized the interest of several influential Massachusetts personages in Southwestern Indian history (an interest perhaps already titillated by the New England visits of Frank Cushing accompanied by Zuni and Hopi Indians, in 1882 and 1886).
Last Updated: 02-Nov-2009