13 June 2013

Those Places Thursday: Mesa Verde

Those Places Thursday is a GeneaBloggers prompt reminding us to write of various places that have special meaning to us or our families. With the deadly wildfires in the news today out in Colorado, my thoughts turned to my godmother and her family and one of our trips "Out West".

My dad worked for Lukens Steel in Coatesville and they used to give long vacations. One year - when I was 13 (I remember because it was the summer going into high school and I was finally old enough to get a job) - he took several weeks off during the summer. We rented a RV (yes - think Robin Williams in RV) and off we went.

One of the most memorable places was of course Yellowstone Park. The other was the Mesa Verde National Park.

I remember thinking it was so cool that these people lived here so long ago and we could actually see how they lived. I also thought it was kind of creepy thinking that hundreds of years from now, someone may be going through my house and reflecting on my life! How bored they would be if they had to reflect on mine!

Mesa Verde was home to the Pueblo peoples, native to that region. They built their community into the landscape, sheltered from the weather and even enemies. They lived there from about 600 to 1300 AD, according to the National Park Service (NPS). The site contains the now-famous cliff dwellings and thousands of archeological sites. According to the NPS, approximately 600 of the over 4700 archeological sites are cliff dwellings. The other sites include mesa top pueblos, farming terraces, towers, reservoirs, and check dams.

Sometime in the late 1200's, the Pueblo people left the cliff dwellings and these communities. They migrated south to New Mexico and Arizona. It is believed that climate changes and a population growth forced these people from their homes.

The site, which some believed to be sacred, went unexplored by people for centuries. The Mesa Verde National Park was established on 29 June 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Photo is from the National Park Service.
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.