National Geographic : 1898 Oct
MESA VERDE The buildings are constructed of carefully squared rock, each of which must have been brought some considerable distance up steep ladders or along the narrow trails which lead to the towns. Water was had in some cases by small springs or seeps within the rock ; in others it was brought in earthen jars, carried, pre sumably on the heads of the women, from the springs far down in the valley. The foot and hand holes cut in the rock still show the path by which the dwellings were reached, but in places these terminate on overhanging cliffs, where it is obvious that ladders must have been employed. These ruins have been an object of superstitious dread by the Utes and other Indians living in the neighborhood and have not been disturbed by them through centuries; but with the advent of the white men destruction has come, and many of the finest have been wantonly pulled to pieces or injured in the search for relics. In particular an estufa or council chamber situated below the surface of the ground and the only one remaining in perfect condition was partially pulled to pieces in order to take some of the logs of the roof to exhibit at the World's Fair at Chicago. Various individuals have made a business of collect ing the pottery from these ruins, rifling the graves and selling the material thus obtained to tourists or to collectors of curios ities. Several museums have sent exploring parties into the vicinity and have obtained material for exhibition. Although these ruins are presumably the property of the National Gov ernment, little, if anything, has been done to preserve them, and the National Museum possesses comparatively few objects from this locality. It is a matter of regret that these interesting ruins are not being preserved, as even from a commercial aspect they would have an ever-increasing value to that part of the State in attracting tourists from all over the world. In spite of the dif ficulties of access, it is estimated that at present 75 parties a year visit the more important of these cliff-houses. The trip is made from Mancos, a town on the Rio Grande Southern railway, a day being spent in reaching the ruins on horseback, another day or more in visiting the ruins, and the greater part of one day in returning to the railroad. It might be practicable to construct a wagon road, but no steps of this kind should be taken to facilitate travel until ample protection is provided to prevent the defacing and injury of the buildings by careless visitors.