|SITE 4 — WILLOW CREEK COMMUNITY
Willow Creek Community is a large
Pueblo 1 site on the east side of Willow Creek Wash, a drainage flowing
north into the Chaco River. The remains of the foundations to the
houses show vertical slabs defining the outer and inner walls, with adobe,
mud or rock fill between them, a harbinger of the later core-fill construction
so common at the Chaco Culture NHP ruins. It appears these Pueblo
1 constructions did not include high, dressed masonry walls however.
Instead, waddle and daub and similar construction techniques most likely
created the living spaces, an improvement over the old Pit House construction
but still similar to it.
All around here other types of Ancient
Puebloan sites exist. The pipeline archaeologist found a Hopi-style
shrine on the mesa just to the north across the road, in alignment with
the prehistoric road already discussed. Higher up the slope south
from the community of domiciles, we see a squarish, enclosed space resembling
a ball court or spiritual space for dance and ceremony, still defined yet
today with vertical slab rock construction.
One of our party found a fragment
of a shell bracelet on this perimeter. The view north from above
the community’s south mesa, across our parked cars, shows the expanse of
this territory. Pot shards practically covered the ground for acres
This shot of the Willow Creek Community shows low rubble mounds
up close but they extend over a large area here with profuse pot shard
scatter. To the right uphill, we explored the spiritual or sporting
or ceremonial squarish space outlined by upright stone slabs on its perimeter.
Higher up yet, several Pueblo I houses are found. Across the road
to the north, other sites exist which we did not have time to explore today.
No trees and 102 degrees so we sat in the vehicles’ shadows and took our
lunch break here. Prof. Windes did some surveying of the site.
Two of the researchers demarcate the catty corners of the squarish
ceremonial space outlined with visible, upright slab stones. The
surface inside the perimeter is mostly smooth, slick rock. It is
located some 50’+ above the community of homes just to the north downhill.
This view looks north from the highest area of the Willow Creek
community, just south and another 30’ above the squarish ceremonial space.
We are looking across the community of unit ruins below to the mesa which
has cultural structures like a square, Hopi-style shrine and a possible
stone ring. Other sites lie below this mesa facing back south to
Jonathan Till of Crow Canyon Archaeological Center found this shell
bracelet fragment at the squarish ceremonial site here.
Here we show a typical shard scatter at the Willow Canyon site.
Well, for the record, I wanted to show our driver’s vehicle registering
a 102 degree outdoor ambient temperature here. Later I observed a
reading of 114 degrees on our way home around 5:30 pm.
SITE 5 — WEAVER’S HOUSE —
LOWER WILLOW CREEK WASH
Several miles down the road west
from Willow Community we stopped to find a reported ruin named Weaver’s
House. The guide Tom Windes had not located it prior to this expedition.
A Great Kiva is also reported in the literature in this area. By
surveying the landscape before setting off from the cars, Prof. Windes
pointed to the highest point of the roadside mesa to our west and said
this would be the most likely place for the ruins.
And then we hiked up the mesa right
into it! The Great Kiva, if it exists, could not be located in the
hour we had to knock around this area. This is a very large Pueblo
I Great House with a plaza to its south. The plaza is a feature not
seen in the other Pueblo I sites we visited today. Fewer pot shards
Jonathan Till is taking some notes at Weaver’s House, located in
lower Willow Creek Wash on the west side’s mesa top. This is a very
large Pueblo I Great House ruin with plaza apparently on its south side,
a more modern feature and not seen at the other Pueblo I sites we visited
today. Note the upright stone slab construction of inner and outer
walls with core fills. Such walls could not have been very high and
were composed primarily of wattle and daub or similar constructions reminiscent
of Pit Houses and Basketmaker Culture sites. The Chuska Mountains
(pron.: Chooska) can be seen in the hazy western horizon.
This view from Weaver’s House looks northwest to the Lukachukai
Mts. in the middle distance. The Chuska Mts. are to the left.
The Shiprock formation is not quite visible in the photo but is located
just behind the Native American student taking in the vista. The 2 "Prayer
Rock" type formations in front of him, in the haze, are located south of
the Shiprock formation along NM State Highway 491 (formerly S. R. 666).
For a perspective, I shot this looking east from the Weaver’s House
site. You are viewing the convoy of vehicles parked on the road below
(look like ants?) to the Willow Creek Wash just past them which flows from
right (north) to left (south).
(part B) (part C)