• Lower Cliff Dwelling

    Tonto

    National Monument Arizona

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  • Visitor Center is closed

    The Visitor Center and bookstore will be closed for several weeks for construction. A temporary Visitor Center will be set up in the parking lot. The trail to the Lower Cliff Dwelling will be open during this period. No entrance fees will be collected. More »

Monthly Reports

1935

Aug - Custodian's residence no longer looks like a "Shell Service Station", now Park Service green.

January - June, 1936

Was unable to stop a party of pothunters from excavating on the shore of Roosevelt Lake - now have arrangement with Forest Service to prevent vandalism.

In order to preserve the cliff dwellings, the Southern Pacific Co. erected a high fence and employed an Apache to act as custodian.

1937

April 8 - enlarged the park by 480 acres.

July - Dec., 1938

Obtained an abandoned, manufactured iceless cooler from nearby canyon, painted and repaired and now a "worthwhile" addition to park's possessions.

Roosevelt Lake as seen from the monument is dry.

1939

Feb - on 3 occasions snow with a temp of 12°.

1940

May - Scorpions are still on the increase at Tonto. We don't need any mounted…insect display here. We can show interested visitors live specimens in their native habitat on any request.

July - The thermometer usually registers between 85 and 116°, and almost every day it reaches at least 112° on the trail to the Lower Ruin. Resuscitation was given to several of the less hardy…who insisted that they were capable of climbing to the Lower Ruin during the hottest part of the day.

The daughter of the custodian got her hand caught in the washing machine wringer.

Aug - installed gas refrigerator and water to tent house.

Sept - The house tent does not leak and the scorpion population is on the decline.

Dec - only complaints regarding it (LCD trail) are that it is long and goes uphill.

Tonto Ruins take this opportunity to extending hearty Season's Greetings to all the other ruins, rocks and their hired hands. May our wall continue standing; may the vandal harm us not.

1941

Jan - We have had about 14" precipitation here within the last 55 days. Roosevelt Lake rose from a few hundred acre-feet of mud to over 400,000 acre-feet…and is still rising.

Feb - …it's still raining and getting to be more miserable every day. If this keeps up I am going to have to add a machete to my regular items of equipment carried in the pickup…some (locals) insist that the Lower Sonoran type will soon change to a Panamanian jungle.

While things look very favorable for the construction of a house at Tonto at some unpredictable future date, (we) are going to have to purchase a new tent in the very near future if the weather doesn't change. At present there isn't a completely dry article in the "Custodian's residence".

Mar - 6" rain between the 12th and 15th - water ran through the many crevasses in overhang in Lower Ruins - collected 200 gallons in 3 days.

April 13 - 431 visitors in 110 cars (note there was a 15 car parking lot) - one day high.

July - Two of the boys (from Luke Field) camped in the canyon one night and reported severe cases of insomnia due to the presence of a mountain lion during the night.

Oct - The heavily traveled Lower Ruin is sadly in need of stabilization and extremely dusty; in fact when 15 or 20 visitors with offspring arrive at one time the air becomes almost unbreathable. Something will have to be done about this situation before next year or the Custodian will have to wear a dust mask while conducting large parties through the ruin.

Nov - killed 40 scorpions while moving women's restroom.

Nov 10 - Gila Co. Cattle Growers Association called a meeting to protest the new monument fence. A resolution was passed to prevent future fencing operations.

Dec - This is the first time that I have witnessed saguaro cacti standing in the snow. We have had a fine Christmas even if the festive board was a 30"x36" table setting in a 12'x14' tent and surrounded by two beds, refrigerator, wardrobe, shelves, and Christmas tree.

1942

Jan - 5 inches of snow - great deal of damage to mesquite & Palo Verde. Visitation holding up despite war and rubber shortage.

May 10 - 125 soldiers visited. June - Projects for ensuing month: guide service, fire patrol, routine cleanup, and maintenance will take up the month, with probably a fire or two for entertainment.

July - Hot and dry, just as you would expect...We have no thermometer, so have not suffered so much, not knowing how hot to feel.

Nov - many of the visitors were hurrying to cover as much ground as possible before gas rationing. Had one small sedan with 12 people in it.

1943

Feb - A considerable stretch of pipeline has been covered in and we hope to finish it all before hot weather so that we can boil our own water instead of having it delivered that way.

July - a very elegant rattlesnake was killed in one corner of the living room in the new quarters…This is also the headquarters, apparently, for all the mice and rats in the Monument Service; we have to maintain a regular trap line in the tents to keep them from dragging off the provisions and chewing up the bedding.

Aug - There is a bumper crop this year of everything that creeps, crawls, leaps, and flies, and they all want to live with us. If discouraged at one inlet, the formation just moves over to the next crack and pours in. Am about to run out of raisins for mousetraps, but perhaps we can train them to commit suicide.

Oct - The rain lasted until morning. The tent top strained out the hail, but the water poured through almost unhindered and, what with trying to push a dish under every stream, and yanking our only two pieces of overstuffed (furniture) from spot to spot, we must have resembled a couple in a jitterbug contest. An earthquake was felt here one morning. The rats and mice still nest in the cars, and don't mind traveling a bit, as I took five mice to Globe with me on my last trip.

Dec - moved from the tents to the new house.

1945

Jan - a group of Canadian flyers were forced to land on the lake and remain for three days during the last storm. They had a very narrow escape from crashing into the dam, due to the low-hanging clouds.

Mar - the visitor count is steadily rising and everyone seemed happy except one elderly woman who, against her better judgment, had been persuaded to come here on Sunday. She told me that Sunday was not meant for such "goin's on", but perhaps as it was "God's work" she was looking at, he might not be too critical of her.

July - the refrigerator quit working. The log of the struggle to get it going again, the days of wrapping food in wet cloths with the temperature 116°, and the language of the Custodian, we will not set down here at this time.

Aug - The rats are again nesting in the cars and by Labor Day should have a couple of tons of cholla cobs under the seat of each, held together with the few cleaning cloths the squirrels didn't get, and two pairs of our best shoe laces.

1946

Jan - A goodly number of (visitors) told us the Government could be putting money to a better use than spending it on a place as useless as this one.

1948

Dec 13 - Tonto's first seasonal ranger came on duty.

1949

Sept 4 - Tonto's first recorded auto accident when brakes failed on a visitor's old car and it overshot the terrace, falling into a 20-foot deep ravine. Bruises only!

Dec - Tonto now has a two-way radio.

1950

April - Finally set up an intra-monument telephone system (cliff dwelling, office, tent house, and parking area) so personnel can communicate without having to yell to each other. This is a vast improvement over the Alpine yodeling system formerly used here.

May - Three hives of bees in the Lower Ruin cave had been quite obnoxious for some time, especially as they made not one bit of distinction between NPS personnel and visitors when they were mad and stinging. After several attempts to eradicate them a technique…was developed. It involves the use of sack to put the powder in and a bloom stalk from a century plant. The sack of powder is pushed into the fissure occupied by the bees with the 15-foot long bloom stalk.

Aug - The outdoor restroom interiors were painted a charming tea-rose and a lovely blue-gray with contrasting ivory. If they can't be hydraulic, they can at least be elegant.

1951

Jan - ongoing problems with the radio. "We can get music, Morse code, lessons in Spanish, and everything but the NPS stations".

April - A few rattlesnakes are out, and visitors are being warned, as our supply of snakes is too scarce to have their children trample any.

Sept - The tool shed, former Scorpion shed, was restored to some degree of order…A large and ambitious packrat contributes to the confusion by swiping spark plugs, gaskets, boxes of screws, and even larger items, and dragging them under the tool racks where we can't get them out. This will raise hob with the inventory if it is not stopped. We have posted the shed with Warning U.S. Property signs, but so far, the packrat has ignored them.

Nov - Archeologist Wenger was conducting a tour to the ruins, and spotted a tarantula hole with a spider just inside the entrance. While the visitors stood aside and watched, Wenger proceeded to push his eversharp pencil into the hole with hopes the tarantula would grab it and it could then be pulled out. Suddenly, the tarantula grabbed and Wenger is now without his eversharp and somewhat red-faced.

1952

Jan - C-47 plane crashed into a high cliff in the Sierra Anchas.

Aug - The telephone in the cliff dwelling was enclosed in a solid wooden box.

Archeologist Wenger was knocked over by lightning while investigating smoke.

Radio transmission has been ineffective much of the time, but reception has had a wonderful range, with everything coming in from as far north as Rapid City and south into Sonora, most of it at the same time.

Sept 13 - As a couple were going down the trail from the Lower Ruins, a rattlesnake struck without warning at the lady. As she was slightly ahead, the snake brushed the front of her skirt, but the force of the strike carried the rattlesnake down from the rock it was lying upon and off the trail.

1953

March - Archeologist Wenger was asked to watch a visitor's young boy who was sleeping in the car. If the "little varmint" woke up, he was instructed to sing "Back in the Saddle Again". The superintendent was glad that Wenger was on duty because his voice would have "scared him clear out of the country".

April 19 - An eleven-year-old girl stepped on a rattlesnake in a grassy area near the museum. Due to good luck and the trajectory of the child, she was not bitten. On the same day Ranger Bob Krear became the first person at Tonto to kill a rattlesnake with a snowshoe. That happened to be the only weapon he had handy. This event stopped traffic along the road, with Arizonans showing the greater interest in the snowshoe.

June - A woman overcome by the heat was carried partway down the trail by her husband who put her down on a hot rock. The burn, suffered in a place "one commonly shows only to the apothecary" was as distressing for the woman as the sunstroke.

1954

July 1 - an admission fee charge was placed into effect.

1955

July - heavy use, and toilets left running by late visitors, emptied the water storage tank, and the restrooms had to be closed for 3 days to let storage build up again. It has become necessary…to lock the comfort stations at night.

1956

June - Placed boxes of poison in the lower ruins to help fix the rodent problem.

1957

Oct 27 - Two children were playing below the museum picnic area and discovered a forgotten about sump when the rotten boards covering gave way beneath them. Neither child was hurt or fell in.

1958

July - numerous complaints about hot drinking water at the Visitor Center. Intended to pipe water through a refrigerator to cool it.

Oct - paving of Hwy 88 was completed.

1959

April - Monument publicity came in the form of a radio station KIKO in Globe. The first person called who could give the name of the person who discovered the Tonto Cliff Dwellings would win $40.00 with a dollar added each day the question went unanswered. The prize total reached $169 before being answered.

1960

Jan - Telephone and booth were removed from the lower dwelling.

May - The bees living in the Lower Cliff Dwelling became a problem after several visitors and all the staff were stung during the last part of the month and into the next. The hives were burned out on the 31st of May. The dwellings, as a result were closed to visitors for several days.

1961

March 18 - Rededication of Roosevelt Dam increased travel a bit.

July - The monument got its first outside telephone service.

1962

July - This spring due to favorable growing condition there was a corresponding build-up of bee activity along the Lower Ruins Cliff. Five swarms of bees were burnt out of the Lower Ruins Cave during the latter part of May and the fore part of June. We are now working on the hives near the ruins and before too long hope to have the bee situation under control to the extent that people can travel along the trail and go through the Ruins without being bothered or stung by those insects.

1963

April - A visitor was hiking up the trail with her husband and dog. Dog stuck head in cactus, brought head up quickly and cactus cluster landed on woman's breast. Cactus was removed by woman removing her bra.

June - Bee activity in the Lower Ruins built up during May to a point that it was necessary to eradicate two swarms of these pests by burning out the hives.

Nov 20 - the Visitor Center building contract was awarded.

1964

Jan 2 - Construction began on new Visitor Center.

Mar - the new visitor center (under construction) was checked for a possible fallout shelter site. It was given a rated capacity of 100 persons and the Civil Defense Office will stock it for that many people.

June - Very interesting idea for controlling the honeybee problem. Jugs containing pesticide were lowered over the cliff and held opposite the hive. They were then shot with a high-powered rifle forcing the liquid into the hive.

July 1 - New fee collection. 25¢ was charged for persons over the age of twelve regardless of whether or not they hiked to the ruins.

On the 1st, the Schulz fire, which had been burning for several days outside the monument, crossed the line and burned 540 acres in a day. It was suppressed by 10:00pm thanks to help from the Forest Service.

Dec 14 - the old Visitor Center was torn down.

1965

February 21 - The new Visitor Center was dedicated.

Dec - The Lake filled past capacity and water had to be let out of the spillways for the first time since 1941.

Did You Know?

striped skunk

Four different varieties of skunk have been seen at Tonto National Monument - the hooded, hog-nosed, striped, and spotted. They may look different, but they all smell the same! More...