Tuzigoot – Crooked Water

Tuzigoot-14Clarkdale, Arizona.

Travellers heading between Phoenix and Flagstaff can find a wealth of interesting places to visit along the way. A popular side trip is a visit to Sedona, however the savvy traveler won’t miss stopping at some of the ancient Native American pueblos and other artifacts of ancient North American history.

The Verde Valley, north of the Phoenix metro in central Arizona, got the Spanish name for “green” valley due to it’s access to nearby water, and it’s wealth of malachite, a copper-based mineral. Several indigenous peoples lived in the area, one group the Sinagua, built above-ground masonry pueblos in the 12th century. In the area around Jerome and Clarkdale, several villages were constructed. One such structure was built on the top of a ridge. That site was excavated in the early 1930s and given the name ‘Tuzigoot.’  The name is an Apache term meaning “Crooked Water,” no doubt referencing the bend in the nearby Verde River.

In the opening image, we see some of the rooms constructed in the pueblo. Numbering over 100, the rooms generally lacked doors and were accessible only by ladders made of wood that were positioned in roof hatchways. Today, the National Park Service manages the small museum and is caretaker for the upkeep and maintenance of the site. High on a plateau, the pueblo has a commanding view of the valley below.

Tuzigoot-10The panoramic shot  above is comprised of six images, as a result, it exhibits a bit of distortion in the nearby construction but shows the view of Verde River floodplain from the highest points at Tuzigoot. The river is not visible, but it’s location is identified by the areas of deciduous trees, mostly cottonwood, that are in the distant background. This view looks to the northeast of the site. Though it’s hard to see in this image, the museum and headquarters are just left of center. Follow the line of the wall in the photo that goes from the bottom straight toward left-center. At the end of the line, there is a building just off to the north that houses the park staff and museum.

Tuzigoot-9Looking to the southwest, with the help of a telephoto lens set at 150 mm, the community of Jerome is nestled in the shadows of the Mingus Mountains. Later that afternoon, we would be having lunch at Jerome. You can view more images of this artist’s enclave here and here.

Tuzigoot-12At the top of the monument, a full reconstruction of the top building provides the visitor with a realistic view of how the residents lived in the pueblo. The window opening in this image provides another view of the Verde River Valley. The thick stone and masonry walls provided some respite from the summer heat in Arizona. The gallery of images below features other views of the excavation and reconstruction of Tuzigoot. Click on an image below to see an enlarged view and to scroll through the gallery.


John Steiner



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