The History of Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
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In other sections of the country, the idea of a government branch which would be directly responsible for the care of National Parks and Monuments, a National Park Service, was growing. With the 1915 appointment of Stephen T. Mather as assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, in charge of 13 National Parks and 18 National Monuments (Shankland 1951), the right man was in the right place. The idea became a reality with the signing of the National Park Service Act on August 25, 1916.

Estimates for the Casa Grande Ruin were prepared by the National Park Service in 1916 and 1917—without success, as Acting Director Albright wrote Mr. Pinkley on June 7, 1918. However, by the latter year the wheels had begun to move for the Casa Grande and for the National Park Service in the southwest.

Unknown to each other in the early days of the movement, the national figures in conservation and other far-sighted citizens, such as Frank Pinkley, caretaker for an Indian ruin in southern Arizona, had been working toward the same end. The goal was the protection of areas of national significance, by persons dedicated to the principle that the long-term protection of this heritage was more rewarding than the receipt of a high salary. The men of the young National Park Service, like Isaiah in the wilderness, had their reward with them, and their work before them.

The first correspondence between Mr. Mather and Frank Pinkley shows how close was their thinking on the ideal of the National Park Service. On January 24, 1918, Mr. Pinkley wrote: "I have your letter of January 16th in regard to the possible change of custodians at the Casa Grande Ruins . . . The plan to allow the custodian to operate a concession [a suggestion made to compensate for the low salary offered] does not appeal to me. Placing a custodian at the Casa Grande Ruin fulfills two objects from the viewpoint of the Government. 1st, prevention of vandalism, and 2nd having someone to act as host on the part of the Government and to stimulate interest and diffuse information about the Casa Grande Ruin in particular, and the ancient life of America in general. I think you will agree with me that the man who completely attains both these ends could hardly appear in the proper light trying, after an hour lecture on archaeology and ethnology, to extract a fee in the shape of profit on souvenirs. It is only one step removed from accepting gratuities, and that was something I never allowed . . . On the whole, I should not be inclined to stick at the salary with the 10% increase you speak of, making it $990 for the year . . . I am not looking at my re-appointment entirely from my own standpoint. If I should go back I want to do some good." The letter also voices a hope that application to the Department for a government automobile might be looked upon with favor, since the ruins are five miles from the nearest source of supplies, and with hay now at $26 a ton the custodian would not be able to afford keep for his own team. Mr. Pinkley suggests that the custodian buy the gasoline: "furnishing my own fuel would be an insurance against over-use of the machine."

On March 4, 1918 Pinkley wrote Mather that he would accept the appointment as custodian under certain general conditions; with 14 years of previous experience at the Casa Grande, he knew the problems and had given a good deal of thought to their solution. As Pinkley saw it, the work to be done came under three main headings: protection, development, and publicity [at the present time, the last item would probably be called "public relations"; in 1918, and in the future, the ability of the National Park Service to do its job would depend greatly on public awareness and support of the job]. Under these headings, Mr. Pinkley made specific recommendations for the protection of the ruin against vandalism and weather (including a search for a wall-hardening spray for the dirt walls); for a good map of the reservation and a general scheme of development, including excavations; and on arousing public interest in the ruins. He concludes "I think of protection of the Casa Grande against vandalism and disintegration as matters we must take care of; the further development and exploration as matters we want to take up, as funds can be obtained ..." Pinkley's appointment as "Custodian of Casa Grande Ruin in Arizona" came through dated March 16, 1918.

The next step, securing funds for the area, was discussed in the June 7, 1918 letter from Mr. Albright, with the observation that "Casa Grande occupies a very peculiar position, because it is neither a National Park nor a National Monument, although we have for several years called it a National Park. The jurisdiction of this reservation is assigned the National Park Service by order of the Secretary because it logically belongs to this Bureau. Nevertheless as a matter of law the reservation belongs to the General Land Office. The only way to remedy the situation is to have the President declare the Casa Grande Ruin a National Monument or to have Congress make it a National Park."

This brought immediate concurrence from Pinkley: we are never going to get special appropriations out of Congress under present conditions. I realized that several years ago and it was the main reason for my quitting the service in 1915. I would not advise trying to pass a Park Bill through Congress. Simply declare us a Monument and let us get down to doing something."

Casa Grande became a National Monument by Presidential Proclamation of August 3, 1918.

Meanwhile, Mather wrote to Pinkley on June 19, 1918 "It is not unlikely that in the course of the next fiscal year I shall ask you to represent me in planning the improvement of the old Mission Tumacacori in the Tumacacori National Monument in Santa Cruz County, Arizona." [7] Thus was planted the seed of what was to grow into the Southwestern National Monuments, of the National Park Service, 27 areas over which Frank Pinkley, as Superintendent, was to "represent" the Director. After 1923 more and more of the "Boss's" time was to be required at other areas; but in 1918 there was still pioneering to be done at Casa Grande National Monument.

Frank Pinkley re-entered on duty at Casa Grande April 1, 1918. The first narrative style monthly report submitted to the Director of the National Park Service is dated May 17 and covers projects from gathering together library reference material, to efforts in obtaining a public rest room for the area. There had been an outbreak of name-scratching on the walls of the Casa Grande in recent months; this had been stopped and several hundred penciled names removed from the original plaster. On September 7th a report was submitted for the fiscal year 1917-1918; the letter of transmittal was blunt enough to attract attention to Casa Grande's needs: "This [accomplishments for the year] can all be told in about one word—Nothing. The explanation is nearly as simple—no funds and no records; no figures, files, or records of any kind on the first nine months of the fiscal year."

However, by the end of the 1918 calendar year the monthly reports show the foundation work of a National Monument is well under way. A detailed analysis of natural causes of ruin wall disintegration, and a discussion of methods for their protection has been forwarded. [Custodian Pinkley, 1918: "I consider this the most pressing need of this reservation." Superintendent Bicknell, 1956: "It still is!"] A large-scale survey and tracing has been made of Compound A. Casa Grande has, by September, received its first National Park Service allotment, $500 for the current year. A well, replacing that of 1902, has been dug, reaching water at 42 feet 6 inches." Since April 1, 1,298 visitors have been given conducted trips through the ruins. A major contribution toward identification of one of the prehistoric structures has been put on paper.

The latter was a combination of deductive reasoning as to the probable use of what archaeologist Fewkes had called "reservoirs", and of test pits sunk to the floors of three nearby "elliptical mounds." Mr. Pinkley's conclusion, stated in his monthly report for November, 1918, that these were "places for ceremony, games or festivals" was proven correct by the complete excavation of the Snaketown ball court 17 years later (Gladwin and others 1937).

The year 1919 saw the first National Park Service inspection of Casa Grande National Monument, and the area's first representation at a National Parks Conference. In January, Director Mather's friends and colleagues Charles D. Punchard (landscape architect) and Dr. Herbert Gleason (Interior Department inspector) visited the area. In October, a letter signed by Acting Director Cammerer came to Blackwater, Arizona enclosing travel authorization for Mr. Pinkley to attend the Park Conference to be held in Denver and Rocky Mountain National Park, November 13 to 16. Mr. Pinkley attended, and "spent a most profitable four or five days getting acquainted with the men of the Service and gathering information which will be useful to me in the next year's work."

He made two penetrating comments on the conference in his monthly report for November. "A thing I missed ... was a birds-eye view of the future. I did not catch a single glimpse of the scope of the work of the National Park Service ten years or fifteen years in the future . . . it seems to me essential to lay down the ground work of a large plan as well as we can and then block in the details as the years go by."

And "I was rather surprised to find that while I knew something of the parks and park problems and was very interested in anything pertaining to them, the park men knew almost nothing about the monuments." Probably here began Frank Pinkley's life-long struggle to have the National Monuments understood for what they were, not as areas "to be filed in one folder marked 'Miscellaneous, Assorted Monuments'."

His contention was that the only distinction between a Park and a Monument which would hold water in 100% of the cases was the fact that one was created by Act of Congress, and the other by Presidential Proclamation; but that, from the visitors' standpoint (with which Mr. Pinkley had a great deal of first-hand experience) the difference usually implied a need for different National Park Service planning. At a Park the beauty and grandeur of the scenery could be enjoyed without any background knowledge on the part of the visitor; but at a Monument, protecting something of special historic or scientific value, it was up to the National Park Service to provide the key to enjoyment, which came only through understanding. Depending on the way it was presented, the visitor saw the Casa Grande as only a pile of mud, or he saw it as a unique tower built and used by people of America's past.

Cut of this need for interpretation grew the emphasis on area research and on personally guided trips which characterized Mr. Pinkley's work at Casa Grande. As travel increased he became concerned because, by March of 1920, working alone still, he was not able to speak to every visitor; by the next month he was forced to cut down on trips to the outer compounds on busy days and concentrate just on Compound A. But guided trips for every visitor to the Casa Grande continued; by the 1930's Casa Grande National Monument was being used as a laboratory for studies of visitor reaction and visitor flow in planning interpretation and museums for other southwestern National Monuments.

Two achievements remain to be recorded for 1919. A telephone was installed at the area, connecting with the switchboard at Florence, Arizona; many trips to town were saved, and a wire for Casa Grande National Monument would not have to wait on the next trip to Blackwater to pick up mail left by the stage from the town of Casa Grande. And, the fiscal year closed with $499.60 of the $500 allotment expended.

By the end of 1922 an adobe museum building had been constructed (prior to this the north room of the Casa Grande had to serve as a museum); local interest was being aroused toward contributing private collections of artifacts to the new museum. (The construction of the museum was matched by another unprecedented event—on March 12, 1922 two inches of snow fell at Casa Grande National Monument.)

In November Mr. Pinkley attended the conference at Yosemite National Park, and on his return submitted the first Epitaph, with cover letter dated November 28, 1922, to the Director. This typewritten forerunner of the 1932 mimeographed Epitaph and of the widely-distributed Southwestern Monuments Reports contained Pinkley's suggestion that people who came to the National Parks and Monuments be referred to as "visitors", instead of the currently used "dudes" and "tourists."

During 1923 the archaeological investigations which Mr. Pinkley had carried on since 1918 were aided by the recruitment of George L. Boundey, a free-lance photographer with some previous experience in mound excavation. Responsibilities at other National Monuments in the Southwest were taking more of Pinkley's time from Casa Grande; Mr. Boundey, who lived in a home made trailer house (possibly one of the country's first) at Florence, agreed he might as well live at the Ruins, and became the Boss's right-hand man.

In September Mr. Pinkley attended a symposium at Chaco Canyon, where Neil Judd was excavating Pueblo Bonita; Judd, Earl Morris of Aztec National Monument, and Pinkley discussed wall preservation—the first of the southwestern conferences on ruins stabilization. The next month, following Mather's request that Pinkley try to interest the Governor of Arizona in the deer problem on the north rim of the Grand Canyon and in Pipe Springs National Monument, a trip was made with Governor Hunt and state officials to those areas. Mr. Pinkley left the party in Utah and traveled to the National Park Service conference at Yellowstone National Park.

It was at this conference that Frank Pinkley was "put in charge of the national monuments of the Southwest", as he phrased it in his annual report for 1923; Mr. Demaray, writing on November 19th, referred to the change as "your new position as Superintendent of Southwestern Monuments." By this time the Custodian of Casa Grande National Monument had done protection work at Tumacacori and Montezuma Castle; inspected Chaco Canyon, El Morro, Petrified Forest, and Pipe Springs; contacted the Custodian of Aztec Ruins; and suggested (successfully) a custodian position for Gran Quivira. By the end of 1924, the roster of National Monuments under Mr. Pinkley's general supervision was to also include Navajo, Rainbow Bridge, Natural Bridges, Capulin, Wupatki, Hovenweep, Yucca House, Papago Saguaro, and the newest addition, Carlsbad Caverns. Official badges were sent to the areas fortunate enough to have a custodian on which to pin them; reports were being received from the custodians, many of them $12 a year volunteers for the National Park Service. The Southwestern National Monuments were well on their way.

Mr. Pinkley served as both Custodian of Casa Grande National Monument and Superintendent of Southwestern National Monuments, until Hilding F. Palmer was appointed Custodian of Casa Grande in July, 1931. Staffing and funds lagged away behind visitors and work; Mr. Boundey, placed in charge at Casa Grande by Mr. Pinkley during his absence in January, 1924 (and often thereafter), was promoted to the position of Assistant in January, 1927. In March of 1925 Pinkley reports to Director Mather that Casa Grande has handled as many visitors that winter as Mesa Verde National Park had the previous summer, and "we had to do it with two women on the job . . . next week I will have to go out on my summer work [to the other Southwestern National Monuments] and one man will have to swing the job here . . . You might make a note of this to show the Bureau of the Budget and the Appropriation Committee that the Monuments are under-financed."

Exactly two years later a third member was added to the Casa Grande staff, Francis Seagoe, Ranger. By the end of 1927 there is mention of "Mr. Rudy, our Clerk-Stenographer-Ranger." February of 1928 kept the staff very busy, installing a standardized bookkeeping and accounting system for the Southwestern National Monuments, and also guiding 2,452 visitors through the Casa Grande. Visitors were swiftly increasing, if staff and funds weren't. By 1929 Casa Grande National Monument showed a 297% increase in annual travel over 1925.

Arizona was growing in population; roads were becoming "highways" (there was even some pavement on transcontinental routes), with a Tucson Phoenix route which would border the Monument on the east and north by 1929; in 1925 tracks for the main line Southern Pacific railroad were being laid just east of the Monument; and the San Carlos Irrigation Project was becoming a reality. With the passage of the San Carlos Bill, in 1925, providing for a storage reservoir on the Gila (Coolidge Dam) and irrigation of both white and Indian land in this area, local people celebrated. Mr. Pinkley wrote, In his report for June, a prophecy which came true in his lifetime: "This irrigated district will surround our monument and the time may come when we will have the only bit of typical desert land in this part of the valley." [8]

Modern canal construction in the vicinity brought about a small change in the boundaries of the National Monument, the restoration to public domain of approximately eight acres of the southwestern corner, by Public Law No. 342, approved June 7, 1926. A later request for relinquishment of the northeast corner of the Monument brought Mr. Pinkley's objection, January 31, 1929, that, being directly on two well-traveled highways, this section would be filed on by some individual for personal profit; he suggested that the purpose of the Irrigation District would be better served by granting them a right-of-way through the northeast corner. This was done by Public Law No. 350, approved June 13, 1930.

The desert gods had two surprises for Casa Grande between December 1924 and September 1925—one good, one bad. The first was the discovery, beneath the uppermost floor level of one of the rooms in Compound A, of a remarkable cache of turquoise and shell, including some of the finest mosaic work yet found in the Southwest. The details were reported by Mr. Boundey to the Director on January 24, 1925. The second was a cloudburst on September 18th, which flooded the area of the new museum building and caused its complete collapse. The exhibits were saved, and reconstruction on the original foundations was started immediately. The rebuilt museum, incorporating the original roof beams and surviving fireplace, was completed by January, 1926; the cement foundation was carried up above the possible reach of future storm water, and the building is now a residence, having been converted when the present museum and administration building was constructed in 1931.

Fortunately for the prehistoric dirt walls, some of the long-awaited funds for their protection had come through before the 1925 rainy season. In December 1924 the project had begun, excavating along walls so that a drainage trench would be dug at their base, and concrete protection against "sapping" laid on the walls for some two feet below and above the old floor levels. The protected walls, and the drainage openings on Compound A stood up very well under the 1925 summer rains.

Compound B was to be, the next year, the scene of a proposed reenactment of Arizona prehistory, sponsored by the Arizona Pageantry Association. The project had many influential backers, and the pageant would undoubtedly attract much attention to the National Monument; but Mr. Pinkley approached the plan cautiously, writing Mr. Mather that he foresaw a lot of administrative problems. That was to prove an understatement. The whole story of the Pageants at Casa Grande National Monument is a subject for some future historian; many groups and personalities were involved; the physical problem of providing seating, parking, police protection, sanitary facilities, and lighting for an expected 10,000 people, where only one small picnic area existed, was staggering. It wasn't easy—but the first Pageant was given November 5, 6, and 7, 1926; [9] 13,000 people attended, and the occasion was so successful that the Association voted to make it an annual affair. (Mr. Pinkley had to miss the National Park Service conference later that month in Washington, however, writing that pressure of work and his "run-down physical condition" made it impossible to leave the southwest at that time). Probably a good many people, from Washington to Casa Grande, breathed a small sigh of relief when the Pageants were discontinued after 1930.

Between 1927 and 1931 two cooperative institutions made valuable contributions to the known prehistory of Casa Grande and vicinity. In February, 1927 Harold S. Gladwin, of the Southwest Museum, and his assistants set up camp at the National Monument and began two months of archaeological excavations in the area. The published report on this work was printed in 1928 as Southwest Museum Papers, Number Two, "Excavations at Casa Grande, Arizona", by Mr. Gladwin. In January, 1928, Gladwin also furnished funds for additional trenching in Compound B.

The Van Bergen-Los Angeles Museum Expedition excavated on the Monument, and at the nearby Grewe Site, during the winter and fall of 1930 and until February of 1931. A final report on the Monument excavations has not yet been made; the Grewe Site was reported by Arthur Woodward as Occasional Papers, No. 1 of the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art, (Woodward 1931), and in manuscript by Irwin Hayden as "Field Report on Major Antiquities, Grewe Site."

Stabilization of Casa Grande ruins was carried on during the winters of 1927 and 1928, for the latter period under the supervision of Martin Jackson of Montezuma Castle.

With 1929, what might be called the pioneer period of Casa Grande National Monument was coming to an end; a period of physical plant development was to begin in 1930 and continue throughout the Civil Works Administration—Civilian Conservation Corps years.

At the end of one era, it was fitting that the 1918 Ford, known as "Baby" the companion of the Pinkleys on many southwestern trips and much Park Service business, would leave Casa Grande, to be put to pasture at Petrified Forest National Monument. Baby used almost no gasoline, and for 92,000 miles of very rough service, had been only momentarily stopped by Chaco floods, Wupatki cinders, and Gran Quivira sandstorms. Just before retirement she had made the 360-mile trip to Montezuma Castle on "11 gallons and 1 pint of gas." As Mr. Pinkley wrote in his report for April, 1929, "it is a pretty good Ford for the shape it is in."

Until the 1930's (which started inauspiciously with the death, in January 1930, of "our beloved friend" Mr. Mather) the work at Casa Grande National Monument had been concentrated on the primary purposes of the National Park Service, as applied to the Southwestern National Monuments: protection and interpretation. The tradition of greeting and talking with every visitor had been established; vandalism had been stopped by presence of Park Service men who aroused the visitor's interest in the value of the ruins; the ancient walls had been stabilized to the limit of funds available; a museum building had been constructed and outfitted; archaeological and historical investigations had been carried on.

Housing was deficient; the ranger's quarters in April of 1928 consisted of one 8x12 room and a screened porch. By November of that year some money was available for construction, and a new residence was begun; after some delay, because plans had not been previously approved, the present quarters No. 3 was occupied. in April of 1929. A Monument sewer system was installed in 1930. In January, 1931 H. A. Kreinkamp and Tom Vint, of the San Francisco office, visited the area "in connection with the building program."

Contracts were let for drilling a new well; for construction of an administration-museum building (in July, 1931 the Superintendent, the Chief Clerk of the Southwestern National Monuments, and the Custodian of Casa Grande National Monument were all sharing one 12x12 office), two residences, a comfort station, and a tool and implement shop; and for fencing the north and east sides of the Monument (the south and west boundaries of the Monument were to be fenced later, in 1934, under the Federal Emergency Relief Administration).

Kreinkamp found 110 degrees in the shade too uncomfortable, and moved his headquarters to Petrified Forest for the summer, but construction work was completed by January, 1932. The Pinkleys and Palmers moved into new quarters, and the old Pinkley house in Compound A was used as ranger quarters until it was taken down in 1940. Work began on moving the museum collections and arranging exhibits in the new museum-administration building in February of 1932. That same month the surfacing of the entrance road, the entrance gateway, the fence, and the visitor parking area were completed.

The new, drilled well had struck a good flow of almost soft water at a depth of 188 feet; in July, 1931 the pump was delivering 12 gallons per minute; water could be piped to the camp and picnic grounds; a pressure system replaced the obsolete water tank and tower. It was thought the water problem of the area was solved.

The history of wells in this area is the history of the water table, tapped by more and more deep wells for crop irrigation. The first well on the Monument was dug in 1902; it is recalled that Mr. Pinkley said the water stood in this well at from 10 to 16 feet below the ground surface. A new well was dug during September and October of 1918, reaching water at 42 feet six inches. In May of 1925 it is reported that the water supply in this well is almost exhausted "after the drought of the last few years." The well was deepened three times in 1929, for a total of about five and one-half feet, but the water supply was still inadequate. The 186-foot well did solve the problem, for 21 years, until the post-World War II increase in irrigated land brought the water table beyond its reach. In 1952 the Monument well had to be abandoned and arrangements made to buy water from the Arizona Water Company. That company is now pumping from three wells to supply the needs of Coolidge, Arizona; as of June 1956 their newest well is 600 feet deep, and they are pumping from the 300-foot level. [10]

The headline achievement of 1932 was the construction of a new shelter over the Casa Grande. The roof of 1903 had kept rain from falling directly into the Great House, but badly needed repair by 1926. No one had ever approved of its appearance; as Mr. Pinkley wrote to Mr. Mather on August 12, 1926, in answer to a visiting architect's criticism, "The most artistic roof we could put over Casa Grande would be none at all. It is not art we are after, it is protection." But hopes were high in 1931 for a new shelter which would better satisfy both protective and artistic needs; the old roof had been damaged by high winds in June of 1930, and the money had been allotted for a new roof. This allotment had to be transferred, in September 1931, to cover forest fire expenses in some of the National Parks; but reserve funds were made available in 1932. A design was approved, the contract was let to Allen Brothers of Los Angeles, and construction of the shelter began September 19. The old roof was no sooner removed than it began to rain, and the Casa Grande got wet for the first time in 29 years; but once again "the desert gods were with us", and, although there were cloudbursts nearby, only a light rain fell on the Great House. National Park Service Engineer E. A. Nickel supervised the project, a temporary roof was erected to protect the Casa Grande during construction, and the $27,724 steel, concrete, and ??trarisite canopy was completed in December of 1932.

With the Casa Grande itself sheltered, attention again was directed to the problem of protecting the outer, exposed ruin walls. During the early 1930's a great deal of research and experimentation, both by commercial companies and the National Park Service, was done on water-proofing materials which could be sprayed on the walls. There had been a lag, but the 1918 recommendation for a study of wall-hardeners was being acted on. Experiments with compounds available at the time proved discouraging; stabilization of caliche walls went back to the prevention of "ground sapping", with some notably successful work in the 1940's on capping the walls with coats of caliche (the protection the original builders had used). A variation of the wall-hardener spray now offers some hope, with the advent of silicone sprays; experiments, still in their early stages on Casa Grande caliche, tend to show that silicone compounds will not harden a wall, but will retard moisture penetration, while allowing evaporation from within the wall.

In August 1933 word was received that Public Works Program funds would be available; the Public Works Administration, Civil Works Administration, and Federal Emergency Relief Administration programs brought a flurry of planning and work to Southwestern National Monument headquarters and several worthwhile projects to Casa Grande National Monument.

Custodian Palmer insisted on first priority for ruins stabilization. In Compound A, the earlier project of building curtain walls at the bases of ruin walls was furthered, and the compound was graded to provide better drainage away from the ruins.

A research project was approved, using Civil Works Administration laborers. An archaeological site in the southeast quarter of the Monument, predating the Casa Grande, was excavated under the direction of Russell Hastings of Gila Pueblo. Work was carried on from December 11, 1933 until February 15, 1934. Field notes, plans, and a catalog of artifacts covering the excavation are in the Monument library; a "Report of Archaeological Excavations at Casa Grande National Monument under Civil Works Administration Program 1934", by Russell Hastings was mimeographed as part of the Supplement to the March 1934 Monthly Report. [11]

A residence, present quarters No. 4, was completed by July 1934.

By 1937 Casa Grande National Monument had received permission for a 50-man Civilian Conservation Corps side camp, 200 miles from the base camp at Chiricahua National Monument. The Army responsibility for the welfare of the boys was transferred to Custodian Albert T. Bicknell, who had come to the Monument in 1936 from a District Ranger-ship at Yellowstone, via Craters of the Moon National Monument. The boys prospered, and the Monument prospered.

Before the camp was recalled in 1940, the Civilian Conservation Corps had assisted in guiding visitors and in the Southwestern National Monuments Naturalist's office, and accomplished the following construction projects: the warehouse, equipment stalls, gas and oil house, repair and blacksmith shop, walls enclosing the utility area, an underground power line for Southwestern National Monuments headquarters; and a pump house and addition to quarters No. 6 for the National Monument.

With extra manpower on the Monument, an experiment in entrance fee collecting was tried, and the Monument staff assisted in transporting museum materials and exhibits for other Southwestern National Monuments. The collection of an entrance fee, at the Monument gate, 8/10 of a mile from the ruin and visitor center, was found to take three man weeks every week; with the loss of CCC help, it was infeasible to continue the experiment. A fee charge had been applied to eight Southwestern National Monuments in May, 1939, by Order of the Secretary of the Interior. After trying entrance fee collecting later in that year, the designation at Casa Grande National Monument was changed to "guide Fee", enabling the small National Park Service staff to combine protective, interpretive, and collection duties at one center.

In 1940 a conference of Southwestern National Monument Custodians was scheduled for Casa Grande National Monument; it was to be the first time the men from the 27 areas of four states would all gather in one place. While addressing the opening conference session, on February 14th, Frank Pinkley died. The Boss left a solid foundation of accomplishments, and a feeling for the National Park Service and the Southwestern National Monuments that will live in all of his "outfit."

The Casa Grande has seen a steady, healthy increase in visitors since then; the Monument has met, and solved, many problems of the changing times—while adhering to the basic principles of administration as they were developed during its pioneer period.

During the late 1930's a need for developing separate Monument files, library, and Fact File aids was seen; much of the early correspondence on which this history is based was saved from a records disposal program. The building of the Monuments records paid off when the Southwestern National Monument headuarters moved away in the fall of 1942, leaving the Monument completely on its own for the first time since the 1920's.

The period of World War II, with its shortages in National Park Service funds and in manpower (Casa Grande National Monument had three women Park Rangers in succession), saw Casa Grande survive with only one major casualty—ruin stabilization. Funds for protection of the weathering dirt walls continued to be lacking, until a statement, as blunt as that of the 1918 annual report on Casa Grande's needs, "either get some work done on these walls, or let's cover them up and forget about them! " brought stabilization money back to the Monument.

Visitor services have continued to include the guided trip through the Casa Grande; museum improvements have been made whenever money and staffing permitted; because of changing travel patterns the former campground has been converted to a smaller picnic area, primarily for the use of daytime Monument visitors, rather than a recreational area for the growing nearby community. The Casa Grande is now one of the most easily accessible Indian ruins of the Southwest, and, with the growing percentage of older visitors (retired people wintering in southern Arizona), the planning is to maintain that accessibility.

The physical plant of the Monument has been improved with its tie-in to commercial power, and water, and to natural gas mains.

As the seventh centennial of the Great House approaches, 20th century thought is still concerned with its future; it may one day find itself again standing directly under the desert sun protected from the elements by an air-conditioned bubble of transparent plastic.

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Last Updated: 02-Nov-2009