Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

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Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument U.S. National Register of Historic Places U.S. Historic District U.S. National Monument Gila Cliff Dwellings as seen from a gorge below Location: Catron County, New Mexico, USA Nearest city: Silver City, New Mexico Coordinates: 33°13′38″N 108°16′20″W  /  33.227222°N 108.27222°W  / 33.227222; -108.27222 Coordinates: 33°13′38″N 108°16′20″W  /  33.227222°N 108.27222°W  / 33.227222; -108.27222 Area: 533 acres (216 ha) Governing body: National Park Service Added to NRHP: October 15, 1966 Designated NMON: November 16, 1907 NRHP Reference#: 66000472 [1 ] Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is a U.S. National Monument in the Gila Wilderness of southwestern New Mexico. The 533-acre (2.16 km 2) national monument was established by executive proclamation on November 16, 1907, by President Theodore Roosevelt [2 ] . It is located in the extreme southern part of Catron County. Tourist can access the site by traveling from US 180, from Silver City, New Mexico, to NM 15. Contents
  • 1 History
  • 2 Cliff Dwellings
  • 3 Amenities
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links
[ edit] History The first European contact with the Gila Cliff Dwellings was by Henry B. Ailman, an emigrant to New Mexico who was residing in Silver City at the time. In the summer of 1878, Ailman found himself, along with a bunch of friends, on a jury list. To avoid serving, they organized a prospecting trip to the Gila River where the site was discovered. [3 ] Throughout the following years, many visitors would study the dwellings. In the next couple of years, the site became more accessible. In the 1890s the Hill brothers had created a resort at the nearby Gila Hot Springs. The Hill brothers would take guests on tours to the nearby cliff dwellings. In June 1906, Rep. John F. Lacey of Iowa and chairman of the House Public Lands Committee introduced a bill for the regulation of prehistoric sites. The Act for the Preservation of Antiquities, also known as the Antiquities Act, the president was authorized to set aside land that contained prehistoric and historic ruins by executive order. Looking out from one of the cave dwellings These reservations were called national monuments and were to be managed by the Interior, Agriculture, and War departments, depending on which agency had controlled a particular site before it was withdrawn. [4 ] In December 1906, Gila Forest Supervisor R. C. McClure reported to the chief forester in Washington, D.C. that the Gila Cliff Dwellings warranted preservation by the national government to avoid further removal of artifacts by hunters and other prospectors. A couple of mummified bodies had been found at the Gila Cliff Dwellings location. Most were lost to private collectors. In 1912, a burial ground was found and the mummy was named “Zeke”. The body was described as an infant. This discovery gained national attention and increased visitations to the monument. This lead to additional improvements in the next couple of years. This was the only mummy to reach the Smithsonian from the site. Administration of the monument was transferred from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the National Park System on August 10, 1933, by Executive Order 6166. President John F. Kennedy signed Proclamation No. 3467 that added approximately 375 acres containing an additional archaeological site, known as the TJ site, as well as additional wilderness. In the spring of 1975, the National Park Service and the United States Forest Service signed a cooperative agreement whereby the Gila National Forest is responsible for administration of the monument. [ edit] Cliff Dwellings A view of one of the dwellings The monument is on a location of 553 acres. The cliff itself was created by volcanic activity. The cliff contains the ruins of interlinked cave dwellings built in five cliff alcoves by the Mogollon peoples. People of the Mogollon culture lived in these cliff dwellings from between 1275 and 1300 AD. [5 ] Archeologists have identified 46 rooms in the five caves, and believed they were occupied by 10 to 15 families. It is not known why the dwellings were abandoned. The dwellings were a perfect place for human living. The caves provided adequate shelter, while the wooded area concealed the homes. The nearby area also provided for growing and finding food. Visiting the Dwellings up close requires hiking a well-traveled, one mile trail loop with several foot bridges over a stream. The entire walk takes about an hour. The hike begins at an elevation of 5695 Feet (1736 Meters) and ends at 5875 Feet (1790 Meters). [ edit] Amenities A museum and visitor center is located at the monument. The visitor center is jointly operated by the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service. The Gila Visitor Center is open every day except Christmas and New Year's days. The visitor's center is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day, for the rest of the day the regular hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Volunteers provide guided tours of the cliff dwellings and share information about the area's cultural and natural resources. The park has a mild climate, with a rainy season that goes from July to August. During the spring and fall the days are moderate and the nights are cool. During the winter months the afternoons are nice with cold morning and nights. Other nearby attractions include hot springs, more ancient sites, national forest trails and fishing along the Gila River. [ edit]