Casa Grande Ruins National
1100 West Ruins Drive
Coolidge, AZ 85228
Explore to Casa Grande Ruins
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Page 1 of 1