THE MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
CITIES OF THE PAST
NE December day in 1888 Richard and Alfred Wetherell, searching for lost cattle on the Mesa Verde, near their home at Mancos, Colorado, pushed through dense growths on the edge of a deep canyon and shouted aloud in astonishment. Across the canyon, tucked into a shelf under the overhanging edge of the opposite brink, were the walls and towers of what seemed to them a palace. They named it Cliff Palace.
Forgetting the cattle in their excitement, they searched the edge of the mesa in all directions. Near by, under the overhanging edge of another canyon, they found a similar group, no less majestic, which they named Spruce Tree House because a large spruce grew out of the ruins.
Thus was discovered the most elaborate and best-preserved prehistoric ruins in America, if not in the world.
A careful search of the entire Mesa Verde in the years following has resulted in many other finds of interest and importance. In 1906 Congress set aside the region as a national park. Even yet its treasures of antiquity are not all known. A remarkable temple to the sun was unearthed in 1915.
Last Updated: 30-Oct-2009