Arizona: Other Historic Sites Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

A list of important historic sites in Arizona.

Awatovi Ruins

Location: Keams Canyon, Navajo County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, European settlement

Statement of significance: Located on the Hopi Indian Reservation, Awatovi Ruins is the site of one of the most important Hopi Indian villages encountered by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado’s men in 1540. It contains the remains of a five-hundred-year-old pueblo and a seventeenth century Spanish mission complex. Excavations were conducted at the site by the Peabody Museum in the 1930’s.

Casa Malpais Site

Location: Springerville, Apache County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: Situated on terraces of a fallen basalt cliff along the upper Little Colorado River, the site dates from late Pueblo III to early Pueblo IV (1250-1325 c.e.) times. Casa Malpais appears to incorporate features of both early and late Mogollon culture settlement patterns.

Desert Laboratory

Location: Tucson, Pima County

Relevant issues: Science and technology

Statement of significance: Established in 1903 by the Carnegie Institution for the purpose of studying “the methods by which plants perform their functions under the extraordinary conditions existing in deserts,” the Desert Laboratory was for over thirty-five years the center for the study of North American desert ecology. Much of the framework of plant ecology generally, and desert ecology in particular, was formulated here.

Gatlin Site

Location: Gila Bend, Maricopa County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: Probably first occupied sometime before 900 c.e., the Gatlin Site contains one of the few documented Hohokam platform mounds. Associated with the mound are pit houses, ball courts, middens, and prehistoric canals. The mound is one of the only excavated and documented Sedentary Period platform mounds that is still relatively intact.

Hubbell Trading Post

Location: Ganado, Apache County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, western expansion

Statement of significance: This still-active trading post represents the varied interactions of Navajos and the white traders who ran trading posts on the Navajo Reservation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Jerome Historic District

Location: Jerome, Yavapai County

Relevant issues: Business and industry

Statement of significance: Jerome was one of the richest copper-producing areas in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The town and surrounding mining area illustrate the historic activities associated with copper production.

Kinishba Ruins

Location: Whiteriver, Gila County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: This site contains the ruins of a pueblo capable of housing up to one thousand Indians that was abandoned about 1400 c.e. The culture of the inhabitants represented a blend of Mogollon and Anasazi ancestry.

Lowell Observatory

Location: Flagstaff, Coconino County

Relevant issues: Science and technology

Statement of significance: Founded in 1894 by Percival Lowell (1855-1916), this relatively small observatory was at the time the one significant center of pure scientific research in the Southwest. Here, Lowell studied Mars (and theorized that it was inhabited by intelligent beings) and performed the computations that led to the discovery of Pluto; A. E. Douglass (1867-1962) conducted research that led to the modern science of dendrochronology; and, in 1912, V. M. Slipher (1875-1969) discovered that the universe was expanding. The observatory is still in operation.

Old Oraibi

Location: Oraibi, Navajo County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: Located on the westernmost of the Hopi mesas, this is probably the oldest continuously inhabited pueblo in the Southwest. Old Oraibi documents Hopi culture and history from before European contact to the present day. The village is on the present Hopi Indian Reservation.

Pueblo Grande Ruin and Irrigation Sites

Location: Pueblo Grande City Park, Phoenix, Maricopa County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Web site: www.arizonaguide.com/pueblogrande

Statement of significance: The prehistoric platform mound and associated archaeological remains at Pueblo Grande represent one of the last surviving urban architectural sites of its kind in the southwestern United States. There is evidence that between 1100 and 1400 c.e., Pueblo Grande served as a Hohokam administration center for a major irrigation canal system. Due to its prehistoric significance, preeminent archaeologists have conducted research at Pueblo Grande since the 1880’s.

Roosevelt Dam

Location: Globe, Gila County

Relevant issues: Science and technology

Statement of significance: Erected between 1906 and 1911, the world’s highest masonry dam is acknowledged for its outstanding engineering. Roosevelt Dam was the first major public works project completed under the National Reclamation Act, which was enacted in 1902 during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration. Roosevelt Dam was designed as a storage facility to increase the agricultural productivity of this arid region along the Salt River.

San Xavier Del Bac Mission

Location: Tucson, Pima County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, European settlement, religion

Statement of significance: Founded in 1700 by the Jesuits, Bac then formed the extreme northern thrust of Nueva Espana. The present structure is the third, perhaps the fourth, church on the site. Consecrated by Franciscans, it was begun in 1783 and completed in 1797. One of the finest Spanish Colonial churches in the country, it is a synthesis of Baroque design and the desert materials from which it was built by Papago Indian laborers supervised by Spanish-American master craftsmen.

Yuma Crossing and Associated Sites

Location: Yuma

Relevant issues: American Indian history, western expansion

Statement of significance: First used by Native Americans, this natural crossing served as a significant transportation gateway on the Colorado River during the Spanish Colonial and U.S. westward expansion periods. The surviving buildings of the Yuma Quartermaster Depot and Arizona Territorial Prison are the key features on the Arizona side of the border; across the river, in California, stand the surviving buildings of Fort Yuma, an Army outpost that guarded the crossing from 1850 to 1885.

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