Casa Grande Ruins
Administrative History
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C. The Development of Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

The development of adequate facilities for employees and visitors was a constant struggle. Rarely were sufficient funds available to meet all of the needs. Even the creation of the Southwestern National Monuments field office did not bring much development money in the 1920s. Most of the construction funds came during the depression era of the 1930s. The last development period, in the early 1960s, evolved from the National Park Service MISSION 66 program.

After Pinkley had expended his $500 appropriation for fiscal year 1919 on removing brush from Compounds A and B, creating a crude picnic and camping area, and digging a new well, funds evaporated for two years. In January 1919 Charles Punchard's visit to formulate a development plan brought no action. In his 1920 annual report Pinkley bemoaned the lack of money. People who hoped to camp at Casa Grande had no pleasant place to do so. Range cattle wandered over the monument without a fence to stop them. These roving livestock were more than a nuisance, they also damaged the ruins. [11]

The financial picture brightened for fiscal year 1922. Casa Grande received a $2,000 appropriation of which $1,200 was specified for a museum building. With the knowledge that funds for a museum would be provided, Pinkley had Punchard deliver building drawings by June 30,1921. Construction did not occur as rapidly. The planned start for the structure in March 1922 was delayed because rain prevented the Pima laborers from making adobe. By April 3 the weather had cleared and work began on the five-room, fifty-by-twenty-two-foot museum. It had a concrete foundation and floor. The adobe walls were stuccoed on the outside and plastered on the interior. The final cost was $1340.31. [12]

While waiting for the construction to begin on the museum, Pinkley used $243.83 of the 1922 appropriation to improve his dwelling. He added a room and a screened porch to the quarters in the December 1921 and January 1922 period. [13]

Pinkley did not receive any money for a much needed storage facility. To house monument equipment, he had resorted to constructing makeshift buildings out of scrap lumber. These unsightly structures were located out of view of visitors. [14]

In mid-1924 external pressure was brought to bear on the monument once more. On this occasion the Casa Grande land stood in the path of an irrigation canal being constructed through the area. In the 1880s white settlers had come to the Florence region because of the seemingly abundant flow of water in the Gila River. These men had constructed a crude dam on that stream about twelve miles above Florence to divert water for irrigation. With time, as more land was irrigated, quarrels began over water rights. All the while, the Pima, who irrigated land farther downstream, obtained less and less water for their fields. As a result, the Pima made their own claim for water. These conflicting interests led the United States Government to authorize a large dam on the Gila River on May 18, 1916. Dam construction, however, could not begin until an agreement was reached on how to divide the water among the various users. A settlement was reached in April 1919 at a meeting held by the secretary of the interior in Los Angeles and, thus, preparation began to build the permanent diversion dam. For a time in 1919 Pinkley sought a share of the irrigation water by which to develop a park area with trees and shrubs for visitor comfort, but his application for water was disapproved. [15]

Funds for the dam included construction of adequate irrigation ditches to replace the crude ones in use. Water for use by the Pima on the Gila River Indian Reservation was to flow there in a ditch constructed by the United States Indian Service. The route to be followed by the Pima Lateral Canal, as the ditch came to be called, was determined in June 1924. The U.S. Indian Service planned to construct the canal across Casa Grande monument land. When asked, the Interior Department Solicitor stated that it would take an act of Congress to place it there. Despite that judgment, the Indian Service told Pinkley that no other location was feasible. Pinkley sent a telegram to the National Park Service director on November 24, 1924, to ask if agency policy should be to agree with or oppose the route. Acting Director Arno B. Cammerer replied that the Park Service could release sufficient land on the monument just inside the east and north boundaries on which to build the canal rather than have it cross the monument. On November 30, 1924, the Indian Service engineers came to Casa Grande to look at the east and north boundary area. Pinkley, who thought that route would take too much monument land, proposed that they locate the Pima Lateral Canal just outside the south and west boundaries. The Indian Service engineers told Pinkley that the south and west route would be feasible if the canal right-of-way could cut through the southwest corner of the monument. This situation would require giving up 7.5 acres of monument land. Pinkley wrote to National Park Service Director Mather to state that he had agreed to permit the canal to go through the southwest corner of the monument. Mather supported that decision. Consequently, that small corner of the monument was returned to the public domain by Public Law No. 342 on June 7, 1926 (see figure 13). No succeeding legislation gave that 7.5-acre tract to the Indian Service. It remains to this day as part of the public domain. [16]

The Pima Lateral Canal proved to be troublesome. The heavy amount of silt deposited in the canal had to be cleaned regularly. As a consequence, when the Indian Service removed the silt it would dump it on the edge of the monument land. By 1933 this silt had been piled along 4,570 feet of the south and 630 feet of the west boundaries up to thirty feet inside the monument. In April of that year, Hilding Palmer, the Casa Grande custodian, notified the Indian Affairs commissioner that the Indian Service could dump no more silt on the monument. It had destroyed trees, brush, and cactus. Some of this silt was removed when the boundary fence was installed in 1934, but the Indian Service kept piling silt along the west boundary. As a result, in 1939 that boundary fence had to be taken down and the dirt removed. The Indian Service then installed a new fence along that 630-foot section. [17]

Misfortune struck the monument on September 25, 1925, when a storm system stalled over the area and produced an excessive amount of rain. Flooding, as the result of the downpour, weakened the museum building's adobe walls and caused the structure to collapse. Pinkley and Boundey were able to remove the artifacts and interpretive material while the structure was still intact. Boundey and his family, who lived in one of the rooms, evacuated the museum without a loss of their personal effects as well. Within ten days the National Park Service Washington office allocated $1,200 from an emergency fund to replace the museum. Pinkley reconstructed the building by using the old concrete foundation, and thus its cost was $273.96 less than the original expenditure. By the end of January 1926, it had been rebuilt and the collection moved back into it. [18]

George Boundey and his family returned to their museum quarters since no other accommodation was available for monument employees. By 1927 Pinkley had developed a plan for future employee housing at Casa Grande. He desired a residential compound with the buildings fronting on a common patio center. This patio area, Pinkley thought, could be developed into a garden without affecting the outside desert. In the early part of 1928 he began a quest to develop this plan. When it appeared that money would be approved to construct a ranger's quarters after July 1, 1928, Pinkley contacted Thomas Vint, the chief landscape architect in the Park Service's San Francisco Field Headquarters, and told him that it "must be of adobe walls to fit into the surroundings ..." Construction began on the residence in November 1928 and it was completed by April of the following year (figure 19). [19]

Although Pinkley had his vision of monument development and had obtained funds for a ranger residence, Thomas Vint decided to visit Casa Grande to make sure that eventual construction was carried out with an orderly plan. In early December 1928, Mr. Vint arrived at Casa Grande to discuss future development with Pinkley. At the time, construction on the ranger's quarters had just begun. Vint liked the southwestern adobe architectural style embodied in the Casa Grande buildings. He, however, did not think much of the museum's internal arrangement. It was not laid out for the purpose that it served. The museum was also situated too close to the new ranger habitation. In Vint's view, building arrangements should be grouped separately on a functional basis. Although poorly designed to serve as a museum, he concluded that the building could be easily converted to a residence. Vint thought that its location, combined with the new ranger dwelling under construction, could form the first structures in Pinkley's desired residential compound (figure 20). A new combination administration/museum building, with adequate visitor parking, needed to be built as a separate unit to the north of the residential group. Pinkley agreed with Vint's development ideas. Vint also stressed the need for a utility group composed of a garage and a warehouse. [20]

aerial view
Figure 19: Ca. 1931 Aerial View. The 1903 Great House roof is visible with the roof patch which was needed after the June 1930 windstorm. Pinkley's 1910 dwelling is visible above the Great House. The first building to the left is the 1929 ranger residence. Above the 1929 dwelling is the 1925 museum with the visitor parking lot above it.
Courtesy of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Although these development plans were discussed, a master plan was not begun until 1932. In the meantime, construction funds were appropriated on a piecemeal basis. Construction, however, took place on the basis of the development plan that Vint and Pinkley had envisioned for Casa Grande. For fiscal year 1930, Pinkley requested an appropriation for an administration/museum building, a sewer system, and a structure to house public comfort stations. Only the sewer system money was approved. It consisted of 430 feet of sewer line, a redwood septic tank, and a distribution gallery. Construction on this system began in January 1930 and was completed by June. The tank and distribution gallery were located to the northeast of the new ranger residence. [21]

The construction appropriation for fiscal year 1931 must have seemed to Pinkley as if his dream had finally come true. Funds were provided for five buildings and a new well. These structures included the administration/museum building, a comfort station, two employee quarters, and a tool and implement shed. Mr. Vint sent the drawings to Pinkley on May 4, 1931, and began to prepare an announcement for construction bids. He had originally designed the administration/museum building to be built as a square with an open center, but the appropriation was only sufficient to complete the front part of that square. The detached restroom building to the museum's rear gave the museum/administration structure an L-shaped appearance. Assistant Landscape Architect H. A. Kreinkamp arrived at the end of May to prepare to oversee the construction. He rearranged the residential locations slightly in order to retain as much of the mesquite and creosote bushes as possible. The bids were opened on June 15 and Albert Coplen of Mesa, Arizona, won the contract for all five buildings with a combined bid of $19,432. The buildings had been designed in a modified Pueblo architectural style to complement the others on site. Dirt for the adobe brick came from the debris that Fewkes had removed from Compound A during his excavation and grading of that area in 1906-07. This earth had been dumped in an "unsightly" pile just outside of that compound. These structures were completed on January 5, 1932, including an adobe wall which partly enclosed them. One residence served as Pinkley's new quarters while the other building housed the new Casa Grande custodian. At the same time the old museum was converted into a residence. A well was dug in July 1931 to a depth of 186 feet. Water was encountered at 70 feet. Two, 525-gallon water storage tanks and a deep well pump were purchased to go with the new well. [22]

1926 park map
Figure 20: 1926 Roads and Structures.

1927-31 park map
Figure 21: 1927-31 Roads and Structures.

Fiscal year 1932 brought an appropriation to grade and asphalt the surface of an entrance road, construct a visitor parking lot for the new museum building, improve the picnic grounds, build a fence on two sides of the monument, and purchase an electrical generating power plant. A debate occurred on the appropriate road to designate as the entrance road. The old stage road which ran diagonally across the monument land from northeast to southwest ceased to exist by late 1925. At that time Pinkley got Pinal County to construct almost two miles of new roads on the monument. These new roads permitted visitors to converge on the museum area from three entrances — one from the northwest corner, one from the south, and a third on the east center (figure 21). This situation allowed visitors too much unrestricted access to the monument. Only one entrance road was needed. Kreinkamp from the San Francisco Field Office favored the northwest as the entrance road. Pinkley, however, settled on the east entrance road. Soon thereafter, Pinkley stepped aside as Casa Grande custodian and chose Hilding Palmer to fill the position. Palmer wrote to F. A. Kittredge, the Park Service chief engineer, that he wanted the road constructed with an abrupt drop at the edges and a ditch deep enough to prevent cars from driving off the road. In this manner he hoped to end the practice of people driving their cars off the roads into the brush where they ate lunch, built fires, and, in general, destroyed the resources. Palmer cautioned that digging deep ditches had to be done carefully since he did not want the natural vegetation destroyed. Road construction was completed in January 1932 with an entrance that contained a pair of ornamental wooden gates fixed to large, adobe covered concrete gateposts. An "artistic" copper sign was placed just outside the gates. The road led to a new forty-six-car parking lot on the north side of the museum. Ten tables, seven fireplaces, and two ramadas were made for the picnic ground which was located just north of the parking lot. At the same time the north and east boundaries of the monument were enclosed with a forty-five-inch-high woven wire fence hung on steel posts and topped with two strands of barbed wire. [23]

In addition to the fiscal year 1932 construction funds, Congress appropriated money to construct a new shelter roof over the Great House. By the mid-1920s it had become apparent that the old roof had deteriorated to the point that it needed replacement. In 1928 Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., acting in an advisory capacity to the National Park Service, sketched a design for a new roof.

The thought at the time, however, was that a design competition should be held for the roof. Consequently, a number of individuals submitted roof plans, but no action was taken because construction funds were not forthcoming. The force of nature helped to speed the process when wind blew part of the old shelter roof off the structure in June 1930. Acting National Park Service chief engineer A. W. Burney selected a design with a concrete roof in November 1930. He thought it would last longer and require less maintenance. The chief engineer, F. A. Kittredge, seconded the concrete approach since he believed that it would add weight to hold the structure down. A major concern on the part of Kittredge, Olmsted, and others was not that the roof would be too heavy, but that a large, open roof would be susceptible to an uplift effect by the wind. In other words, it would be similar to an individual holding an umbrella in a windstorm. Kittredge estimated that the new shelter roof would cost $42,500. [24]

Thomas Vint thought long and hard about the design of the new shelter roof. He wanted an arrangement that would let the ruin stand out. Vint noted that "if a shelter is placed over the ruin, it takes an architectural value that can't help but affect a view of the ruins." In March 1931, he advocated a flat roof on a steel frame because "it is as far a departure from the design and material of the ruin as can be obtained. The shelter should be a thing apart from the ruin, rather than blend with it." At the same time Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. wrote to Horace Albright that he preferred a hip roof to a flat one. He seemed to worry less about blending or contrasting the roof design with the ruin than about the effect of the wind. As a result, he thought the roof should be secured with a guy wire arrangement much like the rope system used on a circus tent. [25]

Because of the expenditure to control forest fires in several large parks in the fall of 1931, Pinkley and others were led to believe that the fiscal year 1932 ruins shelter appropriation would be used to offset that cost. Consequently, Pinkley, Vint, and Kittredge could only hope for funds in the next year. To their surprise, the National Park Service Washington office telegraphed the San Francisco Field Office on April 28, 1932, that funds to build the shelter were available and to proceed with the design and specifications. Soon thereafter Horace Albright, the National Park Service Director, urged that the Olmsted plan be followed. Within a month Vint sent the final design to Pinkley. With some exceptions, he followed the design suggested by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. Vint omitted Olmsted's guy wire arrangement and made a change in the cantilever trusses that supported the eaves. Otherwise, the hipped roof supported by leaning posts followed Olmsted's proposal. Pinkley did not like the leaning posts, but Vint thought that they looked better architecturally and were more useful structurally since they allowed for shorter roof trusses. In addition leaning posts had a bracing value. The transite roof covering incorporated glass skylights. A copper-louvered ventilator was designed for the roof's ridge line to reduce upward wind pressure. Consequently, the roof could withstand a wind pressure of forty pounds per square foot vertical uplift which was equivalent to a 100-mile-per-hour hurricane. [26]

Construction bids for the ruin shelter were opened in mid-June 1932. Of the eleven firms that submitted bids, Allen Brothers of Los Angeles, California, a bridge construction company, placed the lowest bid at $20,282. Allen Brothers sublet the excavation and footings to Clinton Campbell and the steel fabrication to the Virginia Bridge and Iron Company of Birmingham, Alabama. Campbell began work on September 19 to excavate for the footings. The old ruins shelter was removed and a temporary shelter constructed over the Great House to protect it during construction. When the new shelter was completed on December 12, 1932, it stood forty-six feet from the ground to the eaves. The highest point of the structure, the top of the monel metal ball used for a lightning rod, reached sixty-nine feet, three inches above the ground (figure 22). Upon completion, the shelter was painted a sage green to harmonize with the mountains and vegetation as well as provide a contrast with the ruin's walls. Its final cost was $27,724.12, which included $4,000 for engineering and design costs. [27]

Ruin Shelter Roof
Figure 22: The 1932 Ruin Shelter Roof
Courtesy of the Western Archeological and Conservation Center

The shelter has received periodic maintenance which has meant repainting it for the most part. It was repainted for the first time in 1942 at a cost of $513.10. Eight years later, in 1950, another coat of paint was applied. By that time, the cost had more than tripled at $1,597. Small cracks were also noticed to have formed in the legs, but Superintendent A.T. Bicknell was told that these cracks had no effect on the structural soundness. In January 1955, a National Park Service engineer, George Smith, looked at the shelter and saw that the cracks were split welds. He estimated that rewelding would cost $125. This maintenance work, including repainting the welds, was done in April by the Steel Engineering Company of Coolidge. The shelter was painted once more in 1959 along with some resealing and caulking of the roof. On this occasion, J. A. Bridges, the painting contractor, received $2,590. His final coat of sage green-colored paint had a fish oil base. It evidently did not prove to be of good quality because the shelter required paint in only four years. On this occasion, in July 1963, the old paint was sandblasted from the structure. Two zinc chromate primer coats were applied under a vinyl finish coat. Rust-Proofing Incorporated of Phoenix received $11,897 for the contract. In 1974, Mantikas Painting of San Pedro, California repainted the shelter for $8,500. An engineering firm, Collins Engineers Incorporated of Chicago, inspected the ruin cover in 1982 and pronounced it to be in excellent condition. That firm recommended that it be repainted on a ten-year cycle. The shelter received its latest coat of paint between November 1989 and February 1990. The Karvas Painting Company of Yuma applied a Fuller O'Brian 6-99 Oak Bark colored paint for $30,925.68. This coat of paint changed the shelter color from sage green to a light tan. [28]

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Last Updated: 22-Jan-2002