©Bert Gildart: Off and on over the past few days Janie and I have been visiting a number of areas formerly occupied by the Southern Sinagua Indians. One of the most spectacular of these areas was Montezuma Well, a natural tank of water created when an unground cavern sunk.
Today, this natural limestone sinkhole near Rimrock, Arizona, sees the flow each day of over 1,400,000 US gallons all created by two underground springs. The well measures 368 feet across and is 55 feet deep.
Water from the well was used for irrigation, and trails maintained by the national park service provide bird’s eye views of the outlet in the side of a wall from which the waters pour from Montezuma Well.
The Sinagua once used the water for irrigation funneling it through a canal, just as it is done today. Today, farmers still use portions of the water that yet flows through the original Sinagua canal. Some Native Americans believe they emerged into this world through the well, and remains a very sacred place to them.
L to R: Small cliff dwelling near Montezuma Well; canal that directs water from outlet seen at middle right to agricultural fields; Montezuma Castle
Trail to the canal pass by several old cliff dwellings, and we stopped to examine several. Another nearby visitor said they’d just seen a scorpion scurrying across the rock floor. Most likely, life for these people provided constant challenges.
THE NAME STUCK
One of the best preserved of all these cliff dwelling is Montezuma Castle, located about ten miles away and a ruin we wanted to see, because it had a reputation of being very well preserved. The odd name came from the mistaken believe that the cliff dwelling was a castle Aztec refuges had built for their emperor. Montezuma, however, never strayed this far north, but the name stuck.
Today, marks the end of a week-long stay at Dead Horse Ranch near Cottonwood, and from here we’re making a slight detour to hopefully take in the scenic wonders provided at Antelope Canyon near Page. It is probably one of the most sought out places by professional photographers, which is probably a good reason now to avoid it. But it is also our last chance to visit with Don and Nancy before we all go our separate ways, a couple we’ve grown very fond of.