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South Building of the Wupatki ruin.

The Wupatki National Monument, in Arizona, contains two tracts of land lying west of the Little Colorado River, about 35 miles northeast of Flagstaff. Here are located interesting ruins of prehistoric pueblos supposedly built by the ancestors of one of the most picturesque tribes of Indians still surviving in the United States—the Hopi, or People of Peace. It is believed the buildings were constructed by the Snake family of the Hopi in their migration from the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, where, according to their mythology, their ancestors came upward from the Underworld. They were abandoned as the Snake families traveled east and, before the days of the white men, finally settled at the Hopi Mesa where their descendants live to-day.

There are about 35 ruins in the monument, some of them reduced by the action of the elements to little more than heaps of clay and stone.

The two groups of ruins, known as the Citadel and Black Falls ruins, are divided by a distance of 5 to 6 miles. The Black Falls group takes its name from the neighboring falls of the Little Colorado, while the Citadel group is so named because of the remnants of a massive structure that occupy the entire crest of a ragged, truncated lava cone.

The materials used in constructing these prehistoric structures were red sandstone and lava. Those structures built of sandstone have weathered far better than those constructed of lava.

The majority of the buildings are rectilinear in shape, except where the walls followed closely some curvature in the edge of the rocky site. Some of them contain 20 or more rooms.

The ruins indicate that the buildings were originally one, two, or three stories in height, and had much in common with some of the older structures still found in Hopi villages.

The monument is on the Tuba City road from Flagstaff, which also connects with the road to the Grand Canyon National Park. Flagstaff, which is the nearest railroad station, is on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, and is also reached by the National Old Trails Highway. Jesse C. Clarke, of Flagstaff, is the custodian of the monument.

The total area of this monument, which was established December 9, 1924, is 2,234 acres.


Last Modified: Thurs, Oct 19 2000 10:00:00 pm PDT

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