Arizona has a rich cultural history, intertwining the prehistoric with the historic. Situated within Tonto Basin in southeastern Arizona, Tonto National Monument preserves cliff dwellings and other remnants of prehistoric cultures. As these groups left, other native peoples used the valley. The Spaniards arrived in the 1500's, followed by pioneers from the east, further changing what is now Arizona.
The Salado Culture- Builders of the Cliff Dwellings
The word "Salado" describes the prehistoric cultural group living in Tonto Basin between 1250 CE and 1450 CE. According to archeologists, Tonto Basin was a true cultural melting pot and the Salado culture arose when people from the Ancestral Puebloan, Ancient Sonoran Desert People, and Mogollon cultures moved into the Basin.
Learn more about the culture that built the Tonto Cliff Dwellings
Angeline Mitchell- First Teacher to Bring Students to Tonto
Angeline Mitchell Brown, a young schoolteacher, provided the first known written record of the Salado cliff dwellings at what is now Tonto National Monument. In 1880, Angeline, known as Angie, took her students from her school near Tonto Creek on a field trip. Afterwards, she wrote a detailed account of the field trip in her diary.
Learn more about the life of this young woman
Read an excerpt from her diary, describing the trip to the cliff dwellings
Adolph Bandelier- First Archeologist to TontoSwiss-born Adolph Francis Bandelier undertook the first systematic research of pre-historic sites in what is now Arizona. He was the first scientist to survey, map, and describe many of today's archeological monuments and parks. One of those sites was designated Tonto National Monument.
Neither stage routes nor the railroad traversed many of the places he explored, so Bandelier relied on his horse Chico for transportation. At times, Chico was his only companion on the trail.
Learn more about the life of the man who fell in love with and explored the American Southwest
Read Bandelier's own descriptions of his sojourn to now Tonto National Monument
Cordelia Adams Crawford- Honored in Arizona Women's Hall of Fame
Cordelia Adams Crawford was one of the first women elected to the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame in 1981. Of the six women, she was the only one not active in public or professional life. She lived and died in relative obscurity in the Tonto Basin near Globe, AZ. Perhaps she was selected because she "eptiomized the best qualities of a pioneer woman... cheerful acceptance of a way of life many would considered too hard to endure...skill in healing... and able to endure hardships....whaile always a lady, at home in any society."
Learn more about the life of this remarkable woman
Charlie R. Steen Jr.- First Park Ranger at Tonto National Monument
Charlie Steen became the first official employee at Tonto National Monument. He served one full day at Tonto before being transferred to Montezuma's Castle National Monument to fill in for another ranger. Before the temporary transfer, he reported that four autos carrying twent-eight passengers stopped by Tonto National Monument. Can you imagine the repressive summer heat, long before the days of air coniditioning in cars?
Learn more about the Tonto National Monument's first park ranger
Read Charlie Steen's monthly reports about Tonto National Monument
Updated: January 25, 2017
Last updated: March 8, 2017