The Great Lower Chaco River Ruins Expedition (part C)

 I donít think this site was much discussed or even known about until we drove by it and decided to stop for a few minutes.  It was located many more miles west down Willow Creek Wash, not far from its confluence with Chaco River Wash.  A Pueblo I house was located nearby, but this small fortification may be a later construction.
 We saw quite a few herds of horses here and there, some running and I found it very inspiring to observe them in their "wild state".  One curious horse noticed us on this low mesa and ran up to take a closer look at us, then bolted back down the hill.  I was barely able to catch it on camera before it disappeared.

This "Lookout House" site is on the south side of the lower Willow Creek Wash.  In the distance you can see the sand of the Chaco River Wash, where these 2 drainages have their confluence.  The masonry here appears later than Pueblo I, but at least one Pueblo I site lies within 100 feet of this lookout.

I barely caught this horse on camera as it was running away from me.  It ran up a nearby slope to take a look at us, then bolted back down the hill and disappeared.  Many such inspiring images of really good-looking horses, running in herds or alone, crossed my path this day.


 I missed getting a good photo of this ruin site.  It resembled others we explored today, a Pueblo I site to Tom Windesí eyes and is large.  The shard concentration was again spectacular.  This site lies on the south side of Chaco River just east of the Great Bend.

We are now on the Great Bend Site, looking north to the confluence of Willow Creek and Chaco River (just follow the green tree lines!).  The Great Bend itself is a little ways to the west (right) out of photo.  Behind me lie the several rubble mounds and extensive pot shard detritus of this site.
Click the image to see an enlargement
Most of the pottery shards collected for this photo at the Great Bend site are Chuskan gray-wares. Note the many varieties of corrugation, some distinctively patterned.  It appears that the earliest, local potters experimented with just about every possible corrugation technique imaginable!

   Click the image to see an enlargement
I took this photo to show the pot shard and lithic scatter observed over a wide area here.  One intrepid soul found an intact, perfectly fluted arrowhead among them!


I hate to intrude, in a way.  Many small and a few larger critters make their homes OUT THERE.  All make tracks and not much else.  I felt a little alien in such a pure, unsullied environment where space and quiet are manifested with profuse exuberance.  It would take awhile to physically and spiritually harmonize with this kind of hallowed emptiness.

 I saw only 2 lizards myself the 3 days I was in this area. We saw some birds, not many, mostly crows. Some big holes in the ground.  Many ants. Quite a few horses. Some sheep, goats and llamas at the Navajo farms we passed (about 4-5 clan settlements the entire stretch of the 30 miles we drove).  It is empty and without much vegetation, no water or trees.
 As we headed back east after the Great Bend House, I noticed that our driverís auto temp gauge registered an outdoor ambient temperature of 114 degrees at around 5:30 pm while we were in lower Willow Creek.

 This journey was taken on Navajo Nation land.  Apply for a permit before entering these areas.  One can get easily lost in this area with many confusing turns and similar landscapes until you are familiar with the territory.  You should have a guide familiar with the landscape.  Almost no one lives in this area.  No vehicles passed our convoy in either direction all day.  Most cell phones will not connect.  So drive at least 2 vehicles, take a lot of water and time, and those permits are highly recommended if you venture OUT THERE!

Reference:  A good book for the lay person to read which discusses this area and its associated ruins, with floor plans in most cases, is: ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE OF THE SOUTHWEST by William N. Morgan. U of Texas Press. Austin. 1994.  This book provides an extensive bibliography for further reading and study.

So be careful and take all of your precautions along with a Navajo guide if possible, or your car or you could look like this!  It can still be pretty darned dangerous OUT THERE!

(part A)  (part B)    (part C)




Out There    The Navajos

Copyright 2003 by Indiana Watson's Indian Weaving.  All rights reserved