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Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

1100 West Ruins Drive
Coolidge, AZ 85228

Visitor Information
(520) 723-3172

Explore to Casa Grande Ruins National Monument!

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument preserves an ancient Hohokam farming community and "Great House." Created as the nation's first archeological reserve in 1892, the site was declared a National Monument in 1918 "in order that better provision may be made for the protection, preservation and care of the ruins and the ancient buildings and other objects of prehistoric interest thereon."

Casa Grande Ruins is entered off Highway 87/287. A 3/4 mile paved entrance road leads to the parking lot and the visitor center. There is special parking for RV's and longer vehicles. �Map and driving directions.

The visitor center contains the entrance fee collection station, the bookstore, the museum, a fifteen minute video, and restrooms.

The self-guided tour consists of a short walk around the Casa Grande following wayside signs. Guided tours are provided from December through April. Please call for tour schedules.

Children ages 8-14 can participate in the park's Junior Ranger program during their visit.

A picnic area is located across the parking lot from the visitor center which has shaded tables and a raised platform to view an ancient ball court.

All areas are accessible by paved or hard-packed dirt paths. Leashed pets are welcome. Please allow one to two hours for your visit.

A Brief History of the Casa Grande Ruins.

Pictured here is the Casa Grande, or "Big House," as it may have appeared around 1350 C.E. One of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America, its purpose remains as much a mystery as the people who built it. Archeologists have discovered evidence of wide-scale irrigation farming and trade which lasted over a thousand years and ended about 1450. Today the ancient ones are remembered as the "Hohokam," an O'odham word meaning "Those Who Are Gone."

The Hohokam abandoned the Casa Grande area around 1450 C.E., leaving no written language behind. Historic accounts of the Casa Grande begin with the journal entries of Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino when he visited the ruins in 1694. In his description of the large ancient structure before him, he wrote the words "casa grande" (or "great house") which are still used today. 

More became known about the ruins with the later visits of Lt. Col. Juan Bautista de Anza's expedition in 1776 and Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny's military detachment in 1846. Subsequent articles written about the Casa Grande increased public interest. During the 1860's through the 1880's more people began to visit the ruins with the arrival of a railroad line twenty miles to the west and a connecting stagecoach route that ran right by the Casa Grande. 

The resulting damage from souvenir hunting, graffiti and outright vandalism raised serious concerns about the preservation of the Casa Grande.

Anthropologist and historian Adolph Bandelier visited the Casa Grande ruins in 1883-1884 and reported on its condition and probable significance. The Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition of 1887-1888, sponsored by Massachusetts philanthropist Mary Hemenway and led by anthropologist Frank H. Cushing, produced further information on the deterioration of the Casa Grande. 

As a result, several influential Bostonians urged Massachusetts Senator George F. Hoar to present a petition before the U. S. Senate in 1889 requesting that the government take steps to repair and protect the ruins. Repair work began the following year, and in 1892, President Benjamin Harrison set aside one square mile of Arizona Territory surrounding the Casa Grande Ruins as the first prehistoric and cultural reserve established in the United States.

The General Land Office took over management of the ruins and hired a young man named Frank Pinkley in 1901 to be the first on-site custodian. In 1903 a shelter roof of corrugated iron supported by redwood timbers was built over the Casa Grande, and between 1906 and 1908 major excavations and repairs of the ruins were conducted under the direction of Jesse Fewkes of the Bureau of Ethnology. 

Most of the lower walls visible today were uncovered at that time. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Casa Grande Ruins to be a National Monument on August 3, 1918 and management of the Ruins was transferred to the National Park Service. Frank Pinkley stayed on as custodian and eventually became the superintendent of all southwest monuments. 

Part of his promotion effort was to produce a wide range of literature about Casa Grande Ruins and to host the annual Arizona Pageant from 1926 to 1930.

Several important construction projects were undertaken during the 1930's. The main part of the visitor center building with adjacent parking lot and entrance road, and a new steel shelter roof over the Casa Grande, were completed in 1932. 

Between 1937 and 1940, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed a number of adobe buildings to support park operations. All of these structures remain in use today and are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As a result, the general physical appearance of Casa Grande Ruins has changed very little since the 1940's.

Continuing research, ruins repairs, interpretive programs, and visitor center remodeling are all part of the continuing effort to provide the best visitor experience possible, and to fulfill the National Park Service's mission to protect, preserve and make available for present and future generations the many wonders of Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.

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