Book of the National Parks

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From drawings by William H. Holmes]

In this receptive mood the traveller reaches Lund and an automobile. The ride to Cedar City, where he spends the night, shows him the sage-dotted desert at close range. His horizon is one of bare, rugged mountains. In front of him rise the "Cyclopean steps" in long, irregular, deeply indented sweeps. The vivid Pink Cliff, which, had it not long since been washed away from Little Zion, would have added another tier of color to its top, here, on the desert, remains a distant horizon. The road climbs Lake Bonneville's southern shore, and, at Cedar City, reaches the glorified sandstones.

From Cedar City to the canyon one sweeps through Mormon settlements founded more than sixty years ago, a region of stream-watered valleys known of old as Dixie. The road is part of the Arrowhead Trail, once in fact a historic trail, now a motor-highway between Salt Lake and Los Angeles. The valleys bloom. Pomegranates, figs, peaches, apricots, melons, walnuts, and almonds reach a rare perfection. Cotton, which Brigham Young started here as an experiment in 1861, is still grown. Lusty cottonwood-trees line the banks of the little rivers. Cedars dot the valleys and cover thickly the lower hills. And everywhere, on every side, the arid cliffs close in. The Pink Cliff has been left behind, but the Vermilion Cliff constantly appears. The White Cliff enters and stays. Long stretches of road overlie one and another colored stratum; presently the ground is prevailingly red, with here and there reaches of mauve, yellow, green, and pink.

Cedar City proves to be a quaint, straggling Mormon village with a touch of modern enterprise; south of Cedar City the villages lack the enterprise. The houses are of a gray composition resembling adobe, and many of them are half a century old and more. Dilapidated square forts, reminders of pioneer struggles with the Indians, are seen here and there. Compact Mormon churches are in every settlement, however small. The men are bearded, coatless, and wear baggy trousers, suggestive of Holland. Bronzed and deliberate women, who drive teams and work the fields with the men, wear old-fashioned sunbonnets. Many of these people have never seen a railroad-train. Newspapers are scarce and long past date. Here Mormonism of the older fashion is a living religion, affecting the routine of daily life.

Dixie is a land of plenty, but it is a foreign land. It is reminiscent, with many differences, of an Algerian oasis. The traveller is immensely interested. Somehow these strange primitive villages, these simple, earnest, God-fearing people, merge into unreality with the desert, the sage-dotted mountains, the cedar-covered slopes, the blooming valleys, the colored sands, and the vivid cliffs.

Through Bellevue, Toquerville, the ruins of Virgin City, Rockville, and finally to Springdale winds the road. Meantime the traveller has speeded south under the Hurricane Cliff, which is the ragged edge left when all the land west of it sank two thousand feet during some geologic time long past. He reaches the Virgin River where it emerges from the great cliffs in whose recesses it is born, and whence it carries in its broad muddy surge the products of their steady disintegration.

From here on, swinging easterly up-stream, sensation hastens to its climax. Here the Hurricane Cliff sends aloft an impressive butte painted in slanting colors and capped with black basalt. Farther on a rugged promontory striped with vivid tints pushes out from the southern wall nearly to the river's brink. The cliffs on both sides of the river are carved from the stratum which geologists call the Belted Shales. Greenish-grays, brownish-yellows, many shades of bright red, are prominent; it is hard to name a color or shade which is not represented in its horizontal bands. "The eye tires and the mind flags in their presence," writes Professor Willis T. Lee. "To try to realize in an hour's time the beauty and variety of detail here presented is as useless as to try to grasp the thoughts expressed in whole rows of volumes by walking through a library."

Far up the canyon which North Creek pushes through this banded cliff, two towering cones of glistening white are well named Guardian Angels--of the stream which roars between their feet. Eagle Crag, which Moran painted, looms into view. On the south appears the majestic massing of needle-pointed towers which Powell named the Pinnacles of the Virgin. The spectacular confuses with its brilliant variations.

At the confluence of the Virgin River and its North Fork, known of old as the Parunuweap and the Mukuntuweap, the road sweeps northward up the Mukuntuweap. There have been differing reports of the meaning of this word, which gave the original name to the national monument. It has been popularly accepted as meaning "Land of God," but John R. Wallis, of St. George, Utah, has traced it to its original Indian source. Mukuntuweap, he writes, means "Land of the Springs," and Parunuweap "Land of the Birds."

Reaching Springdale, at the base of the Vermilion Cliff, the traveller looks up-stream to the valley mouth through which the river emerges from the cliffs, and a spectacle without parallel meets his eye. Left of the gorgeous entrance rises the unbelievable West Temple of the Virgin, and, merging with it from behind, loom the lofty Towers of the Virgin. Opposite these, and back from the canyon's eastern brink, rises the loftier and even more majestic East Temple of the Virgin. Between them he sees a perspective of red and white walls, domes, and pinnacles which thrills him with expectation.

And so, fully prepared in mind and spirit, awed and exultant, he enters Zion.

Few natural objects which have been described so seldom have provoked such extravagant praise as the West Temple. It is seen from a foreground of gliding river, cottonwood groves, and talus slopes dotted with manzanita, sage, cedars, and blooming cactus. From a stairway of mingled yellows, reds, grays, mauves, purples, and chocolate brown, it springs abruptly four thousand feet. Its body is a brilliant red. Its upper third is white. It has the mass and proportions, the dignity and grandeur, of a cathedral. It is supremely difficult to realize that it was not designed, so true to human conception are the upright form and mass of its central structure, the proportioning and modelling of its extensive wings and buttresses. On top of the lofty central rectangle rests, above its glistening white, a low squared cap of deepest red. It is a temple in the full as well as the noblest sense of the word.

The East Temple, which rises directly opposite and two miles back from the rim, is a fitting companion. It is a thousand feet higher. Its central structure is a steep truncated cone capped like the West Temple. Its wings are separated half-way down, one an elongated pyramid and the other a true cone, both of magnificent size and bulk but truly proportioned to the central mass. Phrase does not convey the suggestion of architectural calculation in both of these stupendous monuments. One can easily believe that the Mormon prophet in naming them saw them the designed creations of a personal deity.

A more definite conception of Nature's gigantic processes follows upon realization that these lofty structures once joined across the canyon, stratum for stratum, color for color. The rock that joined them, disintegrated by the frosts and rains, has passed down the muddy current of the Virgin, down the surging tide of the Colorado, through the Grand Canyon, and into the Pacific. Some part of these sands doubtless helped to build the peninsula of Lower California.

Passing the gates the traveller stands in a trench of nearly perpendicular sides more than half a mile deep, half a mile wide at the bottom, a mile wide from crest to crest. The proportions and measurements suggest Yosemite, but there is little else in common. These walls blaze with color. On the west the Streaked Wall, carved from the White Cliff, is stained with the drip from the red and drab and chocolate shales and limestones not yet wholly washed from its top. It is a vivid thing, wonderfully eroded. Opposite is the Brown Wall, rich in hue, supporting three stupendous structures of gorgeous color, two of which are known as the Mountain of the Sun and the Watchman. Together they are the Sentinels. Passing these across a plaza apparently broadened for their better presentation rise on the west the Three Patriarchs, Yosemite-like in form, height, and bulk, but not in personality or color. The brilliance of this wonder-spot passes description.

Here the canyon contracts, and we come to the comfortable hotel-camp, terminal of the automobile journey. It is on the river side in a shady alcove of the east wall near a spring. Here horses may be had for exploration.

A mile above the camp stands one of the most remarkable monoliths of the region. El Gobernador is a colossal truncated dome, red below and white above. The white crown is heavily marked in two directions, suggesting the web and woof of drapery. Directly opposite, a lesser monolith, nevertheless gigantic, is suggestively if sentimentally called Angel's Landing. A natural bridge which is still in Nature's workshop is one of the interesting spectacles of this vicinity. Its splendid arch is fully formed, but the wall against which it rests its full length remains, broken through in one spot only. How many thousands or hundreds of thousands of years will be required to wipe away the wall and leave the bridge complete is for those to guess who will.

[Illustration: From a photograph by Douglas White


Three thousand feet high; the lower two thousand feet is a brilliant red, the upper thousand feet is white]

Here also is the valley end of a wire cable which passes upward twenty-five hundred feet to cross a break in the wall to a forest on the mesa's top. Lumber is Dixie's most hardly furnished need. For years sawn timbers have been cabled down into the valley and carted to the villages of the Virgin River.

In some respects the most fascinating part of Little Zion is still beyond. A mile above El Gobernador the river swings sharply west and doubles on itself. Raspberry Bend is far nobler than its name implies, and the Great Organ which the river here encircles exacts no imaginative effort. Beyond this the canyon narrows rapidly. The road has long since stopped, and soon the trail stops. Presently the river, now a shrunken stream, concealing occasional quicksands, offers the only footing. The walls are no less lofty, no less richly colored, and the weary traveller works his difficult way forward.

There will come a time if he persists when he may stand at the bottom of a chasm more than two thousand feet deep and, nearly touching the walls on either side, look up and see no sky.

"At the water's edge the walls are perpendicular," writes Doctor G.K. Gilbert, of the U.S. Geological Survey, who first described it, "but in the deeper parts they open out toward the top. As we entered and found our outlook of sky contracted--as we had never before seen it between canyon cliffs--I measured the aperture above, and found it thirty-five degrees. We had thought this a minimum, but soon discovered our error. Nearer and nearer the walls approached, and our strip of blue narrowed down to twenty degrees, then ten, and at last was even intercepted by the overhanging rocks. There was, perhaps, no point from which, neither forward nor backward, could we discover a patch of sky, but many times our upward view was completely cut off by the interlocking of the walls, which, remaining nearly parallel to each other, warped in and out as they ascended."

Here he surprises the secret of the making of Zion.

"As a monument of denudation, this chasm is an example of downward erosion by sand-bearing water. The principle on which the cutting depends is almost identical with that of the marble saw, but the sand grains, instead of being embedded in rigid iron, are carried by a flexible stream of water. By gravity they have been held against the bottom of the cut, so that they should make it vertical, but the current has carried them, in places, against one side or the other, and so far modified the influence of gravity that the cut undulates somewhat in its vertical section, as well as in its horizontal."

[Illustration: From a photograph by the U.S. Geological Survey



These red-and-white structures rise more than two thousand feet above the canyon floor]

This, then, is how Nature began, on the original surface of the plateau, perhaps with the output of a spring shower, to dig this whole mighty spectacle for our enjoyment to-day. We may go further. We may imagine the beginning of the titanic process that dug the millions of millions of chasms, big and little, contributing to the mighty Colorado, that dug the Grand Canyon itself, that reduced to the glorified thing it now is the enormous plateau of our great southwest, which would have been many thousands of feet higher than the highest pinnacle of Little Zion had not erosion more than counteracted the uplifting of the plateau.

Little else need be said to complete this picture. The rains and melting snows of early spring produce mesa-top torrents which pour into the valley and hasten for a period the processes of decorating the walls and levelling the plateau. So it happens that waterfalls of power and beauty then enrich this wondrous spectacle. But this added beauty is not for the tourist, who may come in comfort only after its disappearance.

But springs are many. Trickling from various levels in the walls, they develop new tributary gorges. Gushing from the foundations, they create alcoves and grottos which are in sharp contrast with their desert environment, enriching by dampness the colors of the sandstone and decorating these refreshment-places with trailing ferns and flowering growths. In these we see the origin of the Indian name, Mukuntuweap, Land of the Springs.

The Indians, however, always stood in awe of Little Zion. They entered it, but feared the night.

In 1918 President Wilson changed the name from Mukuntuweap to Zion. At the same time he greatly enlarged the reservation. Zion National Monument now includes a large area of great and varied desert magnificence, including the sources and canyons of two other streams besides Mukuntuweap.



Eleven national monuments in the States of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado illustrate the history of our southwest from the times when prehistoric man dwelt in caves hollowed in desert precipices down through the Spanish fathers' centuries of self-sacrifice and the Spanish explorers' romantic search for the Quivira and the Seven Cities of Cibola.

The most striking feature of the absorbing story of the Spanish occupation is its twofold inspiration. Hand in hand the priest and the soldier boldly invaded the desert. The passion of the priest was the saving of souls, and the motive of the soldier was the greed of gold. The priest deprecated the soldier; the soldier despised the priest. Each used the other for the realization of his own purposes. The zealous priest, imposing his religion upon the shrinking Indian, did not hesitate to invoke the soldier's aid for so holy a purpose; the soldier used the gentle priest to cloak the greedy business of wringing wealth from the frugal native. Together, they hastened civilization.

Glancing for a moment still further back, the rapacious hordes already had gutted the rich stores of Central America and the northern regions of South America. The rush of the lustful conqueror was astonishingly swift. Columbus himself was as eager for gold as he was zealous for religion. From the discovery of America scarcely twenty years elapsed before Spanish armies were violently plundering the Caribbean Islands, ruthlessly subjugating Mexico, overrunning Venezuela, and eagerly seeking tidings of the reputed wealth of Peru. The air was supercharged with reports of treasure, and no reports were too wild for belief; myths, big and little, ran amuck. El Dorado, the gilded man of rumor, became the dream, then the belief, of the times; presently a whole nation was conceived clothed in dusted gold. The myth of the Seven Cities of Cibola, each a city of vast treasure, the growth of years of rumor, seems to have perfected itself back home in Spain. The twice-born myth of Quivira, city of gold, which cost thousands of lives and hundreds of thousands of Spanish ducats, lives even to-day in remote neighborhoods of the southwest.

Pizarro conquered Peru in 1526; by 1535, with the south looted, Spanish eyes looked longingly northward. In 1539 Fray Marcos, a Franciscan, made a reconnaissance from the Spanish settlements of Sonora into Arizona with the particular purpose of locating the seven cities. The following year Coronado, at his own expense, made the most romantic exploration in human history. Spanish expectation may be measured by the cost of this and its accompanying expedition by sea to the Gulf of California, the combined equipment totalling a quarter million dollars of American money of to-day. Coronado took two hundred and sixty horsemen, sixty foot-soldiers, and more than a thousand Indians. Besides his pack-animals he led a thousand spare horses to carry home the loot.

He sought the seven cities in Arizona and New Mexico, and found the pueblo of Zuñi, prosperous but lacking its expected hoard of gold; he crossed Colorado in search of Quivira and found it in Kansas, a wretched habitation of a shiftless tribe; their houses straw, he reported, their clothes the hides of cows, meaning bison. He entered Nebraska in search of the broad river whose shores were lined with gold--the identical year, curiously, in which De Soto discovered the Mississippi. Many were the pueblos he visited and many his adventures and perils; but the only treasure he brought back was his record of exploration.

This was the first of more than two centuries of Spanish expeditions. Fifty years after Coronado, the myth of Quivira was born again; thereafter it wandered homeless, the inspiration of constant search, and finally settled in the ruins of the ancient pueblo of Tabirá, or, as Bandelier has it, Teypaná, New Mexico; the myth of the seven cities never wholly perished.

It is not my purpose to follow the fascinating fortunes of Spanish proselyting and conquest. I merely set the stage for the tableaux of the national monuments.


The Spaniards found our semiarid southwest dotted thinly with the pueblos and its canyons hung with the cliff-dwellings of a large and fairly prosperous population of peace-loving Indians, who hunted the deer and the antelope, fished the rivers, and dry-farmed the mesas and valleys. Not so advanced in the arts of civilization as the people of the Mesa Verde, in Colorado, nevertheless their sense of form was patent in their architecture, and their family life, government, and religion were highly organized. They were worshippers of the sun. Each pueblo and outlying village was a political unit.

Let us first consider those national monuments which touch intimately the Spanish occupation.


Eighty miles southeast of Albuquerque, in the hollow of towering desert ranges, lies the arid country which Indian tradition calls the Accursed Lakes. Here, at the points of a large triangle, sprawl the ruins of three once flourishing pueblo cities, Abo, Cuaray, and Tabirá. Once, says tradition, streams flowed into lakes inhabited by great fish, and the valleys bloomed; it was an unfaithful wife who brought down the curse of God.

When the Spaniards came these cities were at the flood-tide of prosperity. Their combined population was large. Tabirá was chosen as the site of the mission whose priests should trudge the long desert trails and minister to all.

Undoubtedly, it was one of the most important of the early Spanish missions. The greater of the two churches was built of limestone, its outer walls six feet thick. It was a hundred and forty feet long and forty-eight feet wide. The present height of the walls is twenty-five feet.

The ancient community building adjoining the church, the main pueblo of Tabirá, has the outlines which are common to the prehistoric pueblos of the entire southwest and persist in general features in modern Indian architecture. The rooms are twelve to fifteen feet square, with ceilings eight or ten feet high. Doors connect the rooms, and the stories, of which there are three, are connected by ladders through trapdoors. It probably held a population of fifteen hundred. The pueblo has well stood the rack of time; the lesser buildings outside it have been reduced to mounds.

The people who built and inhabited these cities of the Accursed Lakes were of the now extinct Piro stock. The towns were discovered in 1581 by Francisco Banchez de Chamuscado. The first priest assigned to the field was Fray Francisco de San Miguel, this in 1598. The mission of Tabirá was founded by Francisco de Acevedo about 1628. The smaller church was built then; the great church was built in 1644, but was never fully finished. Between 1670 and 1675 all three native cities and their Spanish churches were wiped out by Apaches.

Charles F. Lummis, from whom some of these historical facts are quoted, has been at great pains to trace the wanderings of the Quivira myth. Bandelier mentions an ancient New Mexican Indian called Tio Juan Largo, who told a Spanish explorer about the middle of the eighteenth century that Quivira was Tabirá. Otherwise history is silent concerning the process by which the myth finally settled upon that historic city, far indeed from its authentic home in what now is Kansas. The fact stands, however, that as late as the latter half of the eighteenth century the name Tabirá appeared on the official map of New Mexico. When and how this name was lost and the famous ruined city with its Spanish churches accepted as Gran Quivira perhaps never will be definitely known.

"Mid-ocean is not more lonesome than the plains, nor night so gloomy as that dumb sunlight," wrote Lummis in 1893, approaching the Gran Quivira across the desert. "The brown grass is knee-deep, and even this shock gives a surprise in this hoof-obliterated land. The bands of antelope that drift, like cloud shadows, across the dun landscape suggest less of life than of the supernatural. The spell of the plains is a wondrous thing. At first it fascinates. Then it bewilders. At last it crushes. It is intangible but resistless; stronger than hope, reason, will--stronger than humanity. When one cannot otherwise escape the plains, one takes refuge in madness."

This is the setting of the "ghost city" of "ashen hues," that "wraith in pallid stone," the Gran Quivira.


Due west from Albuquerque, New Mexico, not far from the Arizona boundary, El Morro National Monument conserves a mesa end of striking beauty upon whose cliffs are graven many inscriptions cut in passing by the Spanish and American explorers of more than two centuries. It is a historical record of unique value, the only extant memoranda of several expeditions, an invaluable detail in the history of many. It has helped trace obscure courses and has established important departures. To the tourist it brings home, as nothing else can, the realization of these grim romances of other days.

El Morro, the castle, is also called Inscription Rock. West of its steepled front, in the angle of a sharp bend in the mesa, is a large partly enclosed natural chamber, a refuge in storm. A spring here betrays the reason for El Morro's popularity among the explorers of a semidesert region. The old Zuñi trail bent from its course to touch this spring. Inscriptions are also found near the spring and on the outer side of the mesa facing the Zuñi Road.

For those acquainted with the story of Spanish exploration this national monument will have unique interest. To all it imparts a fascinating sense of the romance of those early days with which the large body of Americans have yet to become familiar. The popular story of this romantic period of American history, its poetry and its fiction remain to be written.

The oldest inscription is dated February 18, 1526. The name of Juan de Oñate, later founder of Santa Fé, is there under date of 1606, the year of his visit to the mouth of the Colorado River. One of the latest Spanish inscriptions is that of Don Diego de Vargas, who in 1692 reconquered the Indians who rebelled against Spanish authority in 1680.

The reservation also includes several important community houses of great antiquity, one of which perches safely upon the very top of El Morro rock.


In the far south of Arizona not many miles north of the boundary of Sonora, there stands, near the Gila River, the noble ruin which the Spaniards call Casa Grande, or Great House. It was a building of large size situated in a compound of outlying buildings enclosed in a rectangular wall; no less than three other similar compounds and four detached clan houses once stood in the near neighborhood. Evidently, in prehistoric days, this was an important centre of population; remains of an irrigation system are still visible.



The holes worn by erosion have been enlarged for doors and windows]

The builders of these prosperous communal dwellings were probably Pima Indians. The Indians living in the neighborhood to-day have traditions indicated by their own names for the Casa Grande, the Old House of the Chief and the Old House of Chief Morning Green. "The Pima word for green and blue is the same," Doctor Fewkes writes me. "Russell translates the old chief's name Morning Blue, which is the same as my Morning Green. I have no doubt Morning Glow is also correct, no doubt nearer the Indian idea which refers to sun-god. This chief was the son of the Sun by a maid, as was also Tcuhu-Montezuma, a sun-god who, legends say, built Casa Grande."

Whatever its origin, the community was already in ruins when the Spaniards first found it. Kino identified it as the ruin which Fray Marcos saw in 1539 and called Chichilticalli, and which Coronado passed in 1540. The early Spanish historians believed it an ancestral settlement of the Aztecs.

Its formal discovery followed a century and a half later. Domingo Jironza Petriz de Cruzate, governor of Sonora, had directed his nephew, Lieutenant Juan Mateo Mange, to conduct a group of missionaries into the desert, where Mange heard rumors from the natives of a fine group of ruins on the banks of a river which flowed west. He reported this to Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, the fearless and famous Jesuit missionary among the Indians from 1687 to 1711; in November, 1694, Kino searched for the ruins, found them, and said mass within the walls of the Casa Grande.

This splendid ruin is built of a natural concrete called culeche. The external walls are rough, but are smoothly plastered within, showing the marks of human hands. Two pairs of small holes in the walls opposite others in the central room have occasioned much speculation. Two look east and west; the others, also on opposite walls, look north and south. Some persons conjecture that observations were made through them of the solstices, and perhaps of some star, to establish the seasons for these primitive people. "The foundation for this unwarranted hypothesis," Doctor Fewkes writes, "is probably a statement in a manuscript by Father Font in 1775, that the 'Prince,' 'chief' of Casa Grande, looked through openings in the east and west walls 'on the sun as it rose and set, to salute it.' The openings should not be confused with smaller holes made in the walls for placing iron rods to support the walls by contractors when the ruin was repaired."


One of the best-preserved ruins of one of the finest missions which Spanish priests established in the desert of the extreme south of Arizona is protected under the name of the Tumacacori National Monument. It is fifty-seven miles south of Tucson, near the Mexican border. The outlying country probably possessed a large native population.

The ruins are most impressive, consisting of the walls and tower of an old church building, the walls of a mortuary chapel at the north end of the church, and a surrounding court with adobe walls six feet high. These, like all the Spanish missions, were built by Indian converts under the direction of priests, for the Spanish invaders performed no manual labor. The walls of the church are six feet thick and plastered within. The belfry and the altar-dome are of burned brick, the only example of brick construction among the early Spanish missions. There is a fine arched doorway.


[Illustration: From a photograph by T.H. Bate


For many reasons, this splendid church is well worth a visit. It was founded and built about 1688 by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, and was known as the Mission San Cayetano de Tumacacori. About 1769 the Franciscans assumed charge, and repaired and elaborated the structure. They maintained it for about sixty years, until the Apache Indians laid siege and finally captured it, driving out the priests and dispersing the Papagos. About 1850 it was found by Americans in its present condition.


The boundary-line which divides Utah from Arizona divides the most gorgeous expression of the great American desert region. From the Mesa Verde National Park on the east to Zion National Monument on the west, from the Natural Bridges on the north to the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert on the south, the country glows with golden sands and crimson mesas, a wilderness of amazing and impossible contours and indescribable charm.

Within this region, in the extreme north of Arizona, lie the ruins of three neighboring pueblos. Richard Wetherill, who was one of the discoverers of the famous cliff-cities of the Mesa Verde, was one of the party which found the Kit Siel (Broken Pottery) ruin in 1894 within a long crescent-shaped cave in the side of a glowing red sandstone cliff; in 1908, upon information given by a Navajo Indian, John Wetherill, Professor Byron Cumming, and Neil Judd located Betatakin (Hillside House) ruin within a crescent-shaped cavity in the side of a small red canyon. Twenty miles west of Betatakin is a small ruin known as Inscription House upon whose walls is a carved inscription supposed to have been made by Spanish explorers who visited them in 1661.

While these ruins show no features materially differing from those of hundreds of other more accessible pueblo ruins, they possess quite extraordinary beauty because of their romantic location in cliffs of striking color in a region of mysterious charm.


But the Indian civilization of our southwest began very many centuries before the arrival of the Spaniard, who found, besides the innumerable pueblos which were crowded with busy occupants, hundreds of pueblos which had been deserted by their builders, some of them for centuries, and which lay even then in ruins.

The desertion of so many pueblos with abundant pottery and other evidences of active living is one of the mysteries of this prehistoric civilization. No doubt, with the failure of water-supplies and other changing physical conditions, occasionally communities sought better living in other localities, but it is certain that many of these desertions resulted from the raids of the wandering predatory tribes of the plains, the Querechos of Bandelier's records, but usually mentioned by him and others by the modern name of Apaches. These fierce bands continually sought to possess themselves of the stores of food and clothing to be found in the prosperous pueblos. The utmost cruelties of the Spanish invaders who, after all, were ruthless only in pursuit of gold, and, when this was lacking, tolerant and even kindly in their treatment of the natives, were nothing compared to the atrocities of these Apache Indians, who gloried in conquest.

Of the ruins of pueblos which were not identified with Spanish occupation, six have been conserved as national monuments.


Many centuries before the coming of the Spaniards, a deep gorge on the eastern slope of the Sierra de los Valles, eighteen miles west of Santa Fé, New Mexico, was the home of a people living in caves which they hollowed by enlarging erosional openings in the soft volcanic sides of nearly perpendicular cliffs. The work was done with pains and skill. A small entrance, sometimes from the valley floor, sometimes reached by ladder, opened into a roomy apartment which in many cases consisted of several connecting rooms. These apartments were set in tiers or stories, as in a modern flat-house. There were often two, sometimes three, floors. They occurred in groups, probably representing families or clans, and some of these groups numbered hundreds. Seen to-day, the cliff-side suggests not so much the modern apartment-house, of which it was in a way the prehistoric prototype, as a gigantic pigeon-house.

In time these Indians emerged from the cliff and built a great semi-circular pueblo up the valley, surrounded by smaller habitations. Other pueblos, probably still later in origin, were built upon surrounding mesas. All these habitations were abandoned perhaps centuries before the coming of the Spaniards. The gorge is known as the Rito de la Frijoles, which is the Spanish name of the clear mountain-stream which flows through it. Since 1916 it has been known as the Bandelier National Monument, after the late Adolf Francis Bandelier, the distinguished archæologist of the southwest.

The valley is a place of beauty. It is six miles long and nowhere broader than half a mile; its entrance scarcely admits two persons abreast. Its southern wall is the slope of a tumbled mesa, its northern wall the vertical cliff of white and yellowish pumice in which the caves were dug. The walls rise in crags and pinnacles many hundreds of feet. Willows, cottonwoods, cherries, and elders grow in thickets along the stream-side, and cactus decorates the wastes. It is reached by automobile from Santa Fé.

This national monument lies within a large irregular area which has been suggested for a national park because of the many interesting remains which it encloses. The Cliff Cities National Park, when it finally comes into existence, will include among its exhibits a considerable group of prehistoric shrines of great value and unusual popular interest.

"The Indians of to-day," writes William Boone Douglass, "guard with great tenacity the secrets of their shrines. Even when the locations have been found they will deny their existence, plead ignorance of their meaning, or refuse to discuss the subject in any form." Nevertheless, they claim direct descent from the prehistoric shrine-builders, many of whose shrines are here found among others of later origin.


For fourteen miles, both sides of a New Mexican canyon sixty-five miles equidistant from Farmington and Gallup are lined with the ruins of very large and prosperous colonies of prehistoric people. Most of the buildings were pueblos, many of them containing between fifty and a hundred rooms; one, known to-day as Pueblo Bonito, must have contained twelve hundred rooms.

These ruins lie in their original desolation; little excavation, and no restoration has yet been done. Chaco Canyon must have been the centre of a very large population. For miles in all directions, particularly westward, pueblos are grouped as suburbs group near cities of to-day.

It is not surprising that so populous a desert neighborhood required extensive systems of irrigation. One of these is so well preserved that little more than the repair of a dam would be necessary to make it again effective.


Small though it is, Montezuma Castle is justly one of the most celebrated prehistoric ruins in America. Its charming proportions, and particularly its commanding position in the face of a lofty precipice, make it a spectacle never to be forgotten. It is fifty-four miles from Prescott, Arizona.

This structure was a communal house which originally contained twenty-five rooms. The protection of the dry climate and of the shallow cave in which it stands has well preserved it these many centuries. Most of the rooms are in good condition. The timbers, which plainly show the hacking of the dull primeval stone axes, are among its most interesting exhibits. The building is crescent-shaped, sixty feet in width and about fifty feet high. It is five stories high, but the fifth story is invisible from the front because of the high stone wall of the façade. The cliff forms the back wall of the structure.

Montezuma's Castle is extremely old. Its material is soft calcareous stone, and nothing but its sheltered position could have preserved it. There are many ruined dwellings in the neighborhood.


Four miles east of the Roosevelt Dam and eighty miles east of Phoenix, Arizona, are two small groups of cliff-dwellings which together form the Tonto National Monument. The southern group occupies a cliff cavern a hundred and twenty-five feet across. The masonry is above the average. The ceilings of the lower rooms are constructed of logs laid lengthwise, upon which a layer of fibre serves as the foundation for the four-inch adobe floor of the chamber overhead.

There are hundreds of cliff-dwellings which exceed this in charm and interest, but its nearness to an attraction like the Roosevelt Dam and glimpses of it which the traveller catches as he speeds over the Apache Trail make it invaluable as a tourist exhibit. Thousands who are unable to undertake the long and often arduous journeys by trail to the greater ruins, can here get definite ideas and a hint of the real flavor of prehistoric civilization in America.


Thirty cliff-dwellings cling to the sides of picturesque Walnut Canyon, eight miles from Flagstaff, Arizona. They are excellently preserved. The largest contains eight rooms. The canyon possesses unusual beauty because of the thickets of locust which fringe the trail down from the rim. One climbs down ladders to occasional ruins which otherwise are inaccessible. Because of its nearness to Flagstaff several thousand persons visit this reservation yearly.


Fifty miles northeast of Silver City, New Mexico, a deep rough canyon in the west fork of the Gila River contains a group of four cliff-dwellings in a fair state of preservation. They lie in cavities in the base of an overhanging cliff of grayish-yellow volcanic rock which at one time apparently were closed by protecting walls. When discovered by prospectors and hunters about 1870, many sandals, baskets, spears, and cooking utensils were found strewn on the floors. Corn-cobs are all that vandals have left.



The American desert, to eyes attuned, is charged with beauty. Few who see it from the car-window find it attractive; most travellers quickly lose interest in its repetitions and turn back to their novels. A little intimacy changes this attitude. Live a little with the desert. See it in its varied moods--for every hour it changes; see it at sunrise, at midday, at sunset, in the ghostly night, by moonlight. Observe its life--for it is full of life; its amazing vegetation; its varied outline. Drink in its atmosphere, its history, its tradition, its romance. Open your soul to its persuading spirit. Then, insensibly but swiftly, its flavor will enthrall your senses; it will possess you. And once possessed, you are charmed for life. It will call you again and again, as the sea calls the sailor and the East its devotees.

This alluring region is represented in our national parks system by reservations which display its range. The Zion National Monument, the Grand Canyon, and the Mesa Verde illustrate widely differing phases. The historical monuments convey a sense of its romance. There remain a few to complete the gamut of its charms.


Imagine a gray Navajo desert dotted with purple sage; huge mesas, deep red, squared against the gray-blue atmosphere of the horizon; pinnacles, spires, shapes like monstrous bloody fangs, springing from the sands; a floor as rough as stormy seas, heaped with tumbled rocks, red, yellow, blue, green, grayish-white, between which rise strange yellowish-green thorny growths, cactus-like and unfamiliar; a pathless waste, strewn with obsidian fragments, glaring in the noon sun, more confusing than the crooked mazes of an ancient Oriental city.

Imagine shapeless masses of colored sandstone, unclimbable, barring the way; acres of polished mottled rock tilted at angles which defy crossing; unexpected canyons whose deep, broken, red and yellow precipices force long detours.

And everywhere color, color, color. It pervades the glowing floor, the uprising edifices. The very air palpitates with color, insistent, irresistible, indefinable.

This is the setting of the Rainbow Bridge.

Scarcely more than a hundred persons besides Indians, they tell me, have seen this most entrancing spectacle, perhaps, of all America. The way in is long and difficult. There are only two or three who know it, even of those who have been there more than once, and the region has no inhabitants to point directions among the confusing rocks. There is no water, nor any friendly tree.



The day's ride is wearying in the extreme in spite of its fascinations. The objective is Navajo Mountain, which, strange spectacle in this desert waste, is forested to its summit with yellow pine above a surrounding belt of juniper and pinyon, with aspen and willows, wild roses, Indian paint-brush, primrose, and clematis in its lower valleys. Below, the multicolored desert, deep cut with the canyons which carry off the many little rivers.

Down one of these wild and highly colored desert canyons among whose vivid tumbled rocks your horses pick their course with difficulty, you suddenly see a rainbow caught among the vivid bald rocks, a slender arch so deliciously proportioned, so gracefully curved among its sharp surroundings, that your eye fixes it steadfastly and your heart bounds with relief; until now you had not noticed the oppression of this angled, spine-carpeted landscape.

From now on nothing else possesses you. The eccentricity of the going constantly hides it, and each reappearance brings again the joy of discovery. And at last you reach it, dismount beside the small clear stream which flows beneath it, approach reverently, overwhelmed with a strange mingling of awe and great elation. You stand beneath its enormous encircling red and yellow arch and perceive that it is the support which holds up the sky. It is long before turbulent emotion permits the mind to analyze the elements which compose its extraordinary beauty.

Dimensions mean little before spectacles like this. To know that the span is two hundred and seventy-eight feet may help realization at home, where it may be laid out, staked and looked at; it exceeds a block of Fifth Avenue in New York. To know that the apex of the rainbow's curve is three hundred and nine feet above your wondering eyes means nothing to you there; but to those who know New York City it means the height of the Flatiron Building built three stories higher. Choose a building of equal height in your own city, stand beside it and look up. Then imagine it a gigantic monolithic arch of entrancing proportions and fascinating curve, glowing in reds and yellows which merge into each other insensibly and without form or pattern. Imagine this fairy unreality outlined, not against the murk which overlies cities, but against a sky of desert clarity and color.

All natural bridges are created wholly by erosion. This was carved from an outstanding spur of Navajo sandstone which lay crosswise of the canyon. Originally the stream struck full against this barrier, swung sideways, and found its way around the spur's free outer edge. The end was merely a matter of time. Gradually but surely the stream, sand-laden in times of flood, wore an ever-deepening hollow in the barrier. Finally it wore it through and passed under what then became a bridge. But meantime other agencies were at work. The rocky wall above, alternately hot and cold, as happens in high arid lands, detached curved, flattened plates. Worn below by the stream, thinned above by the destructive processes of wind and temperature, the window enlarged. In time the Rainbow Bridge evolved in all its glorious beauty. Not far away is another natural bridge well advanced in the making.

The Rainbow Bridge was discovered in 1909 by William Boone Douglass, Examiner of Surveys in the General Land Office, Santa Fé. Following is an abstract of the government report covering the discovery:

"The information had come to Mr. Douglass from a Paiute Indian, Mike's Boy, who later took the name of Jim, employed as flagman in the survey of the three great natural bridges of White Canyon. Seeing the white man's appreciation of this form of wind and water erosion, Jim told of a greater bridge known only to himself and one other Indian, located on the north side of the Navajo Mountain, in the Paiute Indian reservation. Bending a twig of willow in rainbow-shape, with its ends stuck in the ground, Jim showed what his bridge looked like.

"An effort was made to reach the bridge in December. Unfortunately Jim could not be located. On reaching the Navajo trading-post, Oljato, nothing was known of such a bridge, and the truth of Jim's statement was questioned.

"The trip was abandoned until August of the following year, when Mr. Douglass organized a second party at Bluff, Utah, and under Jim's guidance, left for the bridge. At Oljato the party was augmented by Professor Cummings, and a party of college students, with John Wetherill as packer, who were excavating ruins in the Navajo Indian Reservation. As the uninhabited and unknown country of the bridge was reached, travel became almost impossible. All equipment, save what was absolutely indispensable, was discarded. The whole country was a maze of box canyons, as though some turbulent sea had suddenly solidified in rock. Only at a few favored points could the canyon walls be scaled even by man, and still fewer where a horse might clamber. In the sloping sandstone ledges footholds for the horses must be cut, and even then they fell, until their loss seemed certain. After many adventures the party arrived at 11 o'clock, A.M., August 14, 1909.

"Jim had indeed made good. Silhouetted against a turquoise sky was an arch of rainbow shape, so delicately proportioned that it seemed as if some great sculptor had hewn it from the rock. Its span of 270 feet bridged a stream of clear, sparkling water, that flowed 310 feet below its crest. The world's greatest natural bridge had been found as Jim had described it. Beneath it, an ancient altar bore witness to the fact that it was a sacred shrine of those archaic people, the builders of the weird and mysterious cliff-castles seen in the Navajo National Monument.

"The crest of the bridge was reached by Mr. Douglass and his three assistants, John R. English, Jean F. Rogerson, and Daniel Perkins, by lowering themselves with ropes to the south abutment, and climbing its arch. Probably they were the first human beings to reach it.

"No Indian name for the bridge was known, except such descriptive generic terms as the Paiute 'The space under a horse's belly between its fore and hind legs,' or the 'Hole in the rock' (nonnezoshi) of the Navajo, neither of which was deemed appropriate. While the question of a name was still being debated, there appeared in the sky, as if in answer, a beautiful rainbow, the 'Barahoni' of the Paiutes.

"The suitability of the name was further demonstrated by a superstition of the Navajos. On the occasion of his second visit, the fall of the same year, Mr. Douglass had as an assistant an old Navajo Indian named White Horse, who, after passing under the bridge, would not return, but climbed laboriously around its end. On being pressed for an explanation, he would arch his hand, and through it squint at the sun, solemnly shaking his head. Later, through the assistance of Mrs. John Wetherill, an experienced Navajo linguist, Mr. Douglass learned that the formations of the type of the bridge were symbolic rainbows, or the sun's path, and one passing under could not return, under penalty of death, without the utterance of a certain prayer, which White Horse had forgotten. The aged Navajo informant would not reveal the prayer for fear of the 'Lightning Snake.'"

If your return from Rainbow Bridge carries you through Monument Valley with its miles of blazing red structures, memory will file still another amazing sensation. Some of its crimson monsters rise a thousand feet above the grassy plain.


Not many miles north of the Rainbow Bridge, fifty miles from Monticello in southern Utah, in a region not greatly dissimilar in outline, and only less colorful, three natural bridges of large size have been conserved under the title of the Natural Bridges National Monument. Here, west of the Mesa Verde, the country is characterized by long, broad mesas, sometimes crowned with stunted cedar forests, dropping suddenly into deep valleys. The erosion of many thousands of centuries has ploughed the surface into winding rock-strewn canyons, great and small. Three of these canyons are crossed by bridges stream-cut through the solid rock.

The largest, locally known as the Augusta Bridge, is named Sipapu, Gate of Heaven. It is one of the largest natural bridges in the world, measuring two hundred and twenty-two feet in height, with a span of two hundred and sixty-one feet. It is a graceful and majestic structure, so proportioned and finished that it is difficult, from some points of view, to believe it the unplanned work of natural forces. One crosses it on a level platform twenty-eight feet wide.

The other two, which are nearly its size, are found within five miles. The Kachina, which means Guardian Spirit, is locally called the Caroline Bridge. The Owachomo, meaning Rock Mound, is locally known as the Edwin Bridge. The local names celebrate persons who visited them soon after they were first discovered by Emery Knowles in 1895.

They may be reached by horse and pack-train from Monticello, or Bluff, Utah. One of the five sections of the reservation conserves two large caves.


The Age of Reptile developed a wide variety of monsters in the central regions of the continent from Montana to the Gulf of Mexico. The dinosaurs of the Triassic and Jurassic periods sometimes had gigantic size, the Brontosaurus attaining a length of sixty feet or more. The femur of the Brachiosaurus exceeded six feet; this must have been the greatest of them all.

The greater dinosaurs were herbivorous. The carnivorous species were not remarkable for size; there were small leaping forms scarcely larger than rabbits. The necessity for defense against the flesh-eaters developed, in the smaller dinosaurs, extremely heavy armor. The stegosaur carried huge plates upon his curved back, suggesting a circular saw; his long powerful tail was armed with sharp spikes, and must have been a dangerous weapon. Dinosaurs roamed all over what is now called our middle west.

In those days the central part of our land was warm and swampy. Fresh-water lagoons and sluggish streams were bordered by low forests of palms and ferns; one must go to the tropics to find a corresponding landscape in our times. The waters abounded in reptiles and fish. Huge winged reptiles flew from cover to cover. The first birds were evolving from reptilian forms.

The absorbing story of these times is written in the rocks. The life forms were at their full when the sands were laid which to-day is the wide-spread layer of sandstone which geologists call the Morrison formation. Erosion has exposed this sandstone in several parts of the western United States, and many have been the interesting glimpses it has afforded of that strange period so many millions of years ago.

In the Uintah Basin of northwestern Utah, a region of bad lands crossed by the Green River on its way to the Colorado and the Grand Canyon, the Morrison strata have been bent upward at an angle of sixty degrees or more and then cut through, exposing their entire depth. The country is extremely rough and bare. Only in occasional widely separated bottoms has irrigation made farming possible; elsewhere nothing grows upon the bald hillsides.

Here, eighteen miles east of the town of Vernal, eighty acres of the exposed Morrison strata were set aside in 1915 as the Dinosaur National Monument. These acres have already yielded a very large collection of skeletons. Since 1908 the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh has been gathering specimens of the greatest importance. The only complete skeleton of a dinosaur ever found was taken out in 1909. The work of quarrying and removal is done with the utmost care. The rock is chiselled away in thin layers, as no one can tell when an invaluable relic may be found. As fast as bones are detached, they are covered with plaster of Paris and so wrapped that breakage becomes impossible. Two years were required to unearth the skeleton of a brontosaurus.

The extraordinary massing of fossil remains at this point suggests that floods may have swept these animals from a large area and lodged their bodies here, where they were covered with sands. But it also is possible that this spot was merely a favorite feeding-ground. It may be that similarly rich deposits lie hidden in many places in the wide-spread Morrison sandstone which some day may be unearthed. The bones of dinosaurs have been found in the Morrison of Colorado near Boulder.


For a hundred and twenty-five or thirty miles southwest of the Grand Canyon, the valley of the Little Colorado River is known as the Painted Desert. It is a narrow plain of Carboniferous and Triassic marls, shales, sandstones, and conglomerates, abounding in fossils, the most arid part of Arizona; even the river's lower reaches dry up for a part of each year. But it is a palette of brilliant colors; it will be difficult to name a tint or shade which is not vividly represented in this gaudy floor and in the strata of the cliffs which define its northern and eastern limits. Above and beyond these cliffs lies that other amazing desert, the Navajo country, the land of the Rainbow Bridge and the Canyon de Chelly.

I have mentioned the Painted Desert because it is shaped like a long narrow finger pointed straight at the Petrified Forests lying just beyond its touch. Here the country is also highly colored, but very differently. Maroon and tawny yellow are the prevailing tints of the marls, red and brown the colors of the sandstones. There is a rolling sandy floor crisscrossed with canyons in whose bottoms grow stunted cedars and occasional cottonwoods. Upon this floor thousands of petrified logs are heaped in confusion. In many places the strong suggestion is that of a log jam left stranded by subsiding floods. Nearly all the logs have broken into short lengths as cleanly cut as if sawn, the result of succeeding heat and cold.

Areas of petrified wood are common in many parts of the Navajo country and its surrounding deserts. The larger areas are marked on the Geological Survey maps, and many lesser areas are mentioned in reports. There are references to rooted stumps. The three groups in the Petrified Forest National Monument, near the town of Adamana, Arizona, were chosen for conservation because they are the largest and perhaps the finest; at the time, the gorgeously colored logs were being carried away in quantities to be cut up into table-tops.

As a matter of fact, these are not forests. Most of these trees grew upon levels seven hundred feet or more higher than where they now lie and at unknown distances; floods left them here.


Showing the formation in colored strata. The logs seen on the ground grew upon a level seven hundred feet higher]


The trunk is 111 feet long. The stone piers were built to preserve it]

The First Forest, which lies six miles south of Adamana, contains thousands of broken lengths. One unbroken log a hundred and eleven feet long bridges a canyon forty-five feet wide, a remarkable spectacle. In the Second Forest, which lies two miles and a half south of that, and the Third Forest, which is thirteen miles south of Adamana and eighteen miles southeast of Holbrook, most of the trunks appear to lie in their original positions. One which was measured by Doctor G.H. Knowlton of the Smithsonian Institution was more than seven feet in diameter and a hundred and twenty feet long. He estimates the average diameters at three or four feet, while lengths vary from sixty to a hundred feet.

The coloring of the wood is variegated and brilliant. "The state of mineralization in which most of this wood exists," writes Professor Lester F. Ward, paleobotanist, "almost places them among the gems or precious stones. Not only are chalcedony, opals, and agates found among them, but many approach the condition of jasper and onyx." "The chemistry of the process of petrifaction or silicification," writes Doctor George P. Merrill, Curator of Geology in the National Museum, "is not quite clear. Silica is ordinarily looked upon as one of the most insoluble of substances. It is nevertheless readily soluble in alkaline solutions--i.e., solutions containing soda or potash. It is probable that the solutions permeating these buried logs were thus alkaline, and as the logs gradually decayed their organic matter was replaced, molecule by molecule, by silica. The brilliant red and other colors are due to the small amount of iron and manganese deposited together with the silica, and super-oxydized as the trunks are exposed to the air. The most brilliant colors are therefore to be found on the surface."

The trees are of several species. All those identified by Doctor Knowlton were Araucaria, which do not now live in the northern hemisphere. Doctor E.C. Jeffrey, of Harvard, has described one genus unknown elsewhere.

To get the Petrified Forest into full prospective it is well to recall that these shales and sands were laid in water, above whose surface the land raised many times, only to sink again and accumulate new strata. The plateau now has fifty-seven hundred feet of altitude.

"When it is known," writes Doctor Knowlton, "that since the close of Triassic times probably more than fifty thousand feet of sediments have been deposited, it is seen that the age of the Triassic forests of Arizona can only be reckoned in millions of years--just how many it would be mere speculation to attempt to estimate. It is certain, also, that at one time the strata containing these petrified logs were themselves buried beneath thousands of feet of strata of later ages, which have in places been worn away sufficiently to expose the tree-bearing beds. Undoubtedly other forests as great or greater than those now exposed lie buried beneath the later formations."

A very interesting small forest, not in the reservation, lies nine miles north of Adamana.


The popular idea of a desert of dry drifting sand unrelieved except at occasional oases by evidences of life was born of our early geographies, which pictured the Sahara as the desert type. Far different indeed is our American desert, most of which has a few inches of rainfall in the early spring and grows a peculiar flora of remarkable individuality and beauty. The creosote bush seen from the car-windows shelters a few grasses which brown and die by summer, but help to color the landscape the year around. Many low flowering plants gladden the desert springtime, and in the far south and particularly in the far southwest are several varieties of cactus which attain great size. The frequenter of the desert soon correlates its flora with its other scenic elements and finds all rich and beautiful.

In southwestern Arizona and along the southern border of California this strange flora finds its fullest expression. Here one enters a new fairy-land, a region of stinging bushes and upstanding monsters lifting ungainly arms to heaven. In 1914, to conserve one of the many rich tracts of desert flora, President Wilson created the Papago Saguaro National Monument a few miles east of Phoenix, Arizona. Its two thousand and fifty acres include fine examples of innumerable desert species in fullest development.

Among these the cholla is at once one of the most fascinating and the most exasperating. It belongs to the prickly pear family, but there resemblance ceases. It is a stocky bush two or three feet high covered with balls of flattened powerful sharp-pointed needles which will penetrate even a heavy shoe. In November these fall, strewing the ground with spiny indestructible weapons. There are many varieties of chollas and all are decorative. The tree cholla grows from seven to ten feet in height, a splendid showy feature of the desert slopes, and the home, fortress, and sure defense for all the birds who can find nest-room behind its bristling breastwork.

The Cereus thurberi, the pipe-organ, or candelabrum cactus, as it is variously called, grows in thick straight columns often clumped closely together, a picturesque and beautiful creation. Groups range from a few inches to many feet in height. One clump of twenty-two stems has been reported, the largest stem of which was twenty feet high and twenty-two inches in diameter.

Another of picturesque appeal is the bisnaga or barrel cactus, of which there are many species of many sizes. Like all cacti, it absorbs water during the brief wet season and stores it for future use. A specimen the size of a flour-barrel can be made to yield a couple of gallons of sweetish but refreshing water, whereby many a life has been saved in the sandy wastes.

But the desert's chief exhibit is the giant saguaro, the Cereus giganteus, from which the reservation got its name. This stately cactus rises in a splendid green column, accordion-plaited and decorated with star-like clusters of spines upon the edges of the plaits. The larger specimens grow as high as sixty or seventy feet and throw out at intervals powerful branches which bend sharply upward; sometimes there are as many as eight or nine of these gigantic branches.

No towering fir or spreading oak carries a more princely air. A forest of giant saguaro rising from a painted desert far above the tangle of creosote-bush, mesquite, cholla, bisnaga, and scores of other strange growths of a land of strange attractions is a spectacle to stir the blood and to remember for a lifetime.


On the desert border of far-western Colorado near Grand Junction is a region of red sandstone which the erosion of the ages has carved into innumerable strange and grotesque shapes. Once a great plain, then a group of mesas, now it has become a city of grotesque monuments. Those who have seen the Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs can imagine it multiplied many times in size, grotesqueness, complexity, and area; such a vision will approximate the Colorado National Monument. The two regions have other relations in common, for as the Garden of the Gods flanks the Rockies' eastern slopes and looks eastward to the great plains, so does the Colorado National Monument flank the Rockies' western desert. Both are the disclosure by erosion of similar strata of red sandstone which may have been more or less continuous before the great Rockies wrinkled, lifted, and burst upward between them.

The rock monuments of this group are extremely highly colored. They rise in several neighboring canyons and some of them are of great height and fantastic design. One is a nearly circular column with a diameter of a hundred feet at the base and a height of more than four hundred feet.

Caves add to the attractions, and there are many springs among the tangled growths of the canyon floors. There are cedars and pinyon trees. The region abounds in mule-deer and other wild animals.


After the sea-bottom which is now our desert southwest rose for the last time and became the lofty plateau of to-day, many were the changes by which its surface became modified. Chief of these was the erosion which has washed its levels thousands of feet below its potential altitude and carved it so remarkably. But it also became a field of wide-spread volcanic activity, and lavas and obsidians are constantly encountered among its gravels, sands, and shales. Many also are the cones of dead volcanoes.

Capulin Mountain in northeastern New Mexico near the Colorado line is a very ancient volcano which retains its shape in nearly perfect condition. It was made a national monument for scientific reasons, but it also happily rounds out the national parks' exhibit of the influences which created our wonderful southwest. Its crater cone is composed partly of lava flow, partly of fine loose cinder, and partly of cemented volcanic ash. It is nearly a perfect cone.

Capulin rises fifteen hundred feet from the plain to an altitude of eight thousand feet. Its crater is fifteen hundred feet across and seventy-five feet deep. To complete the volcanic exhibit many blister cones are found around its base. It is easily reached from two railroads or by automobile.



National monuments which commemorate history, conserve forests, and distinguish conspicuous examples of world-making dot other parts of the United States besides the colorful southwest. Their variety is great and the natural beauty of some of them unsurpassed.

Their number should be much greater. Every history-helping exploration of the early days, from Cortreal's inspection of the upper Atlantic coast in 1501 and Ponce de Leon's exploration of Florida eleven years later, from Cabrillo's skirting of the Pacific coast in 1542 and Vancouver's entrance into Puget Sound in 1792, including every early expedition from north and south into the country now ours and every exploration of the interior by our own people, should be commemorated, not by a slab of bronze or marble, but by a striking and appropriate area set apart as a definite memorial of the history of this nation's early beginnings.

These areas should be appropriately located upon or overlooking some important or characteristic landmark of the explorations or events which they commemorated, and should have scenic importance sufficient to attract visitors and impress upon them the stages of the progress of this land from a condition of wilderness to settlement and civilization.

Nor should it end here. The country is richly endowed, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, with examples of Nature's amazing handicraft in the making of this continent, the whole range of which should be fully expressed in national reservations.

Besides these, examples of our northeastern forests, the pines of the southern Appalachians, the everglades of Florida, the tangled woodlands of the gulf, and other typical forests which perchance may have escaped the desolation of civilization, should be added to the splendid forest reserves of the national parks of the West, first-grown as Nature made them, forever to remain untouched by the axe.

Thus will the national parks system become the real national museum for to-day and forever.

There follows a brief catalogue of the slender and altogether fortuitous beginnings of such an exhibit.


One of the last remaining stands of original redwood forest easily accessible to the visitor is the Muir Woods in California. It occupies a picturesque canyon on the slope of Mount Tamalpais, north of the Golden Gate and opposite San Francisco, from which it is comfortably reached by ferry and railroad. It was rescued from the axe by William Kent of California, who, jointly with Mrs. Kent, gave it to the nation as an exhibit of the splendid forest which once crowded the shores of San Francisco Bay. It is named after John Muir, to whom this grove was a favorite retreat for many years.

It exhibits many noble specimens of the California redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, cousin of the giant sequoia. Some of them attain a height of three hundred feet, with a diameter exceeding eighteen feet. They stand usually in clusters, or family groups, their stems erect as pillars, their crowns joined in a lofty roof, rustling in the Pacific winds, musical with the songs of birds. Not even in the giant sequoia groves of the Sierra have I found any spot more cathedral-like than this. Its floor is brown and sweet-smelling, its aisles outlined by the tread of generations of worshippers. Its naves, transepts, alcoves, and sanctuaries are still and dim, yet filled mysteriously with light.

The Muir Woods is a grove of noble redwoods, but it is much more. Apart from its main passages, in alcove, gateway, and outlying precinct it is an exhibit of the rich Californian coast forest. The Douglas fir here reaches stately proportions. Many of the western oaks display their manifold picturesqueness. A hundred lesser trees and shrubs add their grace and variety. The forest is typical and complete. Though small in scope it is not a remnant but naturally blends into its surroundings. The shaded north hill slopes carry the great trees to the ridge line; the southern slope exhibits the struggle for precedence with the mountain shrubs. At the lower end one bursts out into the grass country and the open hills. Every feature of the loveliest of all forests is at hand: the valley floor with its miniature trout-stream overhung with fragrant azaleas; the brown carpet interwoven with azaleas and violets. There is the cool decoration of many ferns.

[Illustration: From a photograph by Tibbitts


The straight-growing redwoods compel a change of habit in the trees that would struggle toward a view of the sky. Mountain-oaks and madrona are straight-trunked and clear of lower branches. There is rivalry of the strong and protection for the weak.

The grove is, in truth, a complete expression in little of Nature's forest plan. The characteristics of the greater redwood forests which require weeks or months to compass and careful correlation to bring into perspective, here are exhibited within the rambling of a day. The Muir Woods is an entity. Its meadow borders, its dark ravines, its valley floor, its slopes and hilltops, all show fullest luxuriance and perfect proportion. The struggle of the greater trees to climb the hills is exemplified as fully as in the great exhibits of the north, which spread over many miles of hill slope; here one may see its range in half an hour.

The coloring, too, is rich. The rusty foliage and bark, the brighter green of the shrubs, the brown carpet, the opal light, stirs the spirit. The powerful individuality of many of its trees is the source of never-ending pleasure. There is a redwood upon the West Fork which has no living base, but feeds, vampire-like, through another's veins; or, if you prefer the figure of family dependence so strikingly exemplified in these woods, has been rescued from destruction by a brother. The base of this tree has been completely girdled by fire. Impossible to draw subsistence from below, it stands up from a burned, naked, slender foundation. But another tree fell against it twenty-five or thirty feet above the ground, in some far past storm, and lost its top; this tree pours its sap into the veins of the other to support its noble top. The twin cripples have become a single healthy tree.

One of the most striking exhibits of the Muir Woods is its tangle of California laurel. Even in its deepest recesses, the bays, as they are commonly called, reach great size. They sprawl in all directions, bend at sharp angles, make great loops to enter the soil and root again; sometimes they cross each other and join their trunks; in one instance, at least, a large crownless trunk has bent and entered head first the stem of still a larger tree.

There are greater stands of virgin redwoods in the northern wilderness of California which the ruthless lumberman has not yet reached but is approaching fast; these are inland stands of giants, crowded like battalions. But there is no other Muir Woods, with its miniature perfection.


Southeast of craggy Lyell, mountain climax and eastern outpost of the Yosemite National Park, the Muir Trail follows the extravagantly beautiful beginnings of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River through a region of myriad waters and snow-flecked mountains. Banner Peak, Ritter Mountain, Thousand Island Lake, Volcanic Ridge, Shadow Lake--national park scenery in its noblest expression, but not yet national park.

A score of miles from Lyell, the trail follows the river into a volcanic bottom from whose forest rises the splendid group of pentagonal basaltic columns which was made a national monument in 1911 under the title of the Devil's Postpile. Those who know the famous Giant's Causeway of the Irish coast will know it in kind, but not in beauty.

The enormous uplift which created the Sierra was accompanied on both its slopes by extensive volcanic eruptions, the remains of which are frequently visible to the traveller. The huge basaltic crystals of the Devil's Postpile were a product of this volcanic outpouring; they formed deep within the hot masses which poured over the region for miles around. Their upper ends have become exposed by the erosion of the ages by which the cinder soil and softer rock around them have been worn away.

The trail traveller comes suddenly upon this splendid group. It is elevated, as if it were the front of a small ridge, its posts standing on end, side by side, in close formation. Below it, covering the front of the ridge down to the line of the trail, is an enormous talus mass of broken pieces. The appropriateness of the name strikes one at the first glance. This is really a postpile, every post carefully hewn to pattern, all of nearly equal length. The talus heap below suggests that his Satanic Majesty was utilizing it also as a woodpile, and had sawn many of the posts into lengths to fit the furnaces which we have been taught that he keeps hot for the wicked.

Certainly it is a beautiful, interesting, and even an imposing spectacle. One also thinks of it as a gigantic organ, whose many hundred pipes rise many feet in air. Its lofty position, seen from the viewpoint of the trail, is one of dignity; it overlooks the pines and firs surrounding the clearing in which the observer stands. The trees on the higher level scarcely overtop it; in part, it is outlined against the sky.

"The Devil's Postpile," writes Professor Joseph N. LeConte, Muir's successor as the prophet of the Sierra, "is a wonderful cliff of columnar basalt, facing the river. The columns are quite perfect prisms, nearly vertical and fitted together like the cells of a honeycomb. Most of the prisms are pentagonal, though some are of four or six sides. The standing columns are about two feet in diameter and forty feet high. At the base of the cliff is an enormous basalt structure, but, wherever the bed-rock is exposed beneath the pumice covering, the same formation can be seen."

An error in the proclamation papers made the official title of this monument the Devil Postpile, and thus it must legally appear in all official documents.

The reservation also includes the Rainbow Fall of the San Juan River, one of the most beautiful waterfalls of the sub-Sierra region, besides soda springs and hot springs. This entire reservation was originally included in the Yosemite National Park, but was cut out by an unappreciative committee appointed to revise boundaries. It is to be hoped that Congress will soon restore it to its rightful status.


A structure similar in nature to the Devil's Postpile, but vastly greater in size and sensational quality, forms one of the most striking natural spectacles east of the Rocky Mountains. The Devil's Tower is unique. It rises with extreme abruptness from the rough Wyoming levels just west of the Black Hills. It is on the banks of the Belle Fourche River, which later, encircling the Black Hills around the north, finds its way into the Big Cheyenne and the Missouri.

This extraordinary tower emerges from a rounded forested hill of sedimentary rock which rises six hundred feet above the plain; from the top of that the tower rises six hundred feet still higher. It is visible for a hundred miles or more in every direction. Before the coming of the white man it was the landmark of the Indians. Later it served a useful purpose in guiding the early explorers.

To-day it is the point which draws the eye for many miles. The visitor approaching by automobile sees it hours away, and its growth upon the horizon as he approaches is not his least memorable experience. It has the effect at a distance of an enormous up-pointing finger which has been amputated just below the middle joint. When near enough to enable one to distinguish the upright flutings formed by its closely joined pentagonal basaltic prisms, the illusion vanishes. These, bending inward from a flaring base, straighten and become nearly perpendicular as they rise. Now, one may fancy it the stump of a tree more than a hundred feet in diameter whose top imagination sees piercing the low clouds. But close by, all similes become futile; then the Devil's Tower can be likened to nothing but itself.

This column is the core of a volcanic formation which doubtless once had a considerably larger circumference. At its base lies an immense talus of broken columns which the loosening frosts and the winter gales are constantly increasing; the process has been going on for untold thousands of years, during which the softer rock of the surrounding plains has been eroded to its present level.

One may climb the hill and the talus. The column itself cannot be climbed except by means of special apparatus. Its top is nearly flat and elliptical, with a diameter varying from sixty to a hundred feet.


[Illustration: From a photograph by Tibbitts


[Illustration: From a photograph by N.H. Darion


Forty miles as the crow flies east of Monterey, California, in a spur of the low Coast Range, is a region which erosion has carved into many fantastic shapes. Because of its crowded pointed rocks, it has been set apart under the title of the Pinnacles National Monument. For more than a century and a quarter it was known as Vancouver's Pinnacles because the great explorer visited it while his ships lay at anchor in Monterey Bay, and afterward described it in his "Voyages and Discoveries." It is unfortunate that the historical allusion was lost when it became a national reservation.

Two deep gorges, bordered by fantastic walls six hundred to a thousand feet high, and a broad semi-circular, flower-grown amphitheatre, constitute the central feature. Deep and narrow tributary gorges furnish many of the curious and intricate forms which for many years have made the spot popular among sightseers. Rock masses have fallen upon the side walls of several of these lesser gorges, converting them into picturesque winding tunnels and changing deep alcoves into caves which require candles to see.

It is a region of very unusual interest and charm.


On the way to the Yellowstone National Park by way of the Wyoming entrance at Cody, and three miles east of the great Shoshone Dam, a limestone cave has been set apart under the title of the Shoshone Cavern National Monument. The way in is rough and precipitous and, after entering the cave, a descent by rope is necessary to reach the chambers of unusual beauty. One may then journey for more than a mile through galleries some of which are heavily incrusted with crystals.


Approaching the crest of the Rockies on the Northern Pacific Railroad, the Lewis and Clark Cavern is passed fifty miles before reaching Butte. Its entrance is perched thirteen hundred feet above the broad valley of the Jefferson River, which the celebrated explorers followed on their westward journey; it overlooks fifty miles of their course.

The cavern, which has the usual characteristics of a limestone cave, slopes sharply back from its main entrance, following the dip of the strata. Some of its vaults are decorated in great splendor. The depredations of vandals were so damaging that in 1916 its entrance was closed by an iron gate.

This cavern is the only memorial of the Lewis and Clark expedition in the national parks system; there is no record that the explorers entered it or knew of its existence.

Two hundred and thirty miles east of the Cavern, Clark inscribed his name and the date, July 25, 1806, upon the face of a prominent butte known as Pompey's Pillar. This would have been a far more appropriate monument to the most important of American explorations than the limestone cave. In fact, the Department of the Interior once attempted to have it proclaimed a national monument; the fact that it lay within an Indian allotment prevented. The entire course of this great expedition should be marked at significant points by appropriate national monuments.


In the southwestern corner of South Dakota, on the outskirts of the Black Hills, is one of the most interesting limestone caverns of the country. It was named Wind Cave because, with the changes of temperature during the day, strong currents of wind blow alternately into and out of its mouth. It has many long passages and fine chambers gorgeously decorated. It is a popular resort.

The United States Biological Survey maintains a game-preserve.


Northwest of Wind Cave, thirteen miles west and south of Custer, South Dakota boasts another limestone cavern of peculiar beauty, through whose entrance also the wind plays pranks. It is called Jewel Cave because many of its crystals are tinted in various colors, often very brilliantly. Under torchlight the effect is remarkable.

Connecting chambers have been explored for more than three miles, and there is much of it yet unknown.


In the far southwestern corner of Oregon, about thirty miles south of Grant's Pass, upon slopes of coast mountains and at an altitude of four thousand feet, is a group of large limestone caves which have been set apart by presidential proclamation under the title of the Oregon Caves National Monument. Locally they are better known as the Marble Halls of Oregon.

There are two entrances at different levels, the passages and chambers following the dip of the strata. A considerable stream, the outlet of the waters which dissolved these caves in the solid limestone, passes through. The wall decorations, and, in some of the chambers, the stalagmites and stalactites, are exceedingly fine. The vaults and passages are unusually large. There is one chamber twenty-five feet across whose ceiling is believed to be two hundred feet high.


For sixty miles or more east and west across the Olympian Peninsula, which is the forested northwestern corner of Washington and the United States between Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean, stretch the Olympian Mountains. The country is a rugged wilderness of tumbled ranges, grown with magnificent forests above which rise snowy and glaciered summits. Its climax is Mount Olympus, eight thousand one hundred feet in altitude, rising about twenty-five miles equidistant from the Strait of Juan de Fuca upon the north and the Pacific Ocean upon the west.

The entire peninsula is extremely wild. It is skirted by a road along its eastern and part of its northern edges, connecting the water-front towns. Access to the mountain is by arduous trail. The reservation contains nine hundred and fifty square miles. Although possessing unusual scenic beauty, it was reserved for the purpose of protecting the Olympic elk, a species peculiar to the region. Deer and other wild animals also are abundant.


High under the Continental Divide in southwestern Colorado near Creede, a valley of high altitude, grotesquely eroded in tufa, rhyolite, and other volcanic rock, is named the Wheeler National Monument in honor of Captain George Montague Wheeler, who conducted geographical explorations between 1869 and 1879. Its deep canyons are bordered by lofty pinnacles of rock. It is believed that General John C. Fremont here met the disaster which drove back his exploring-party of 1848, fragments of harness and camp equipment and skeletons of mules having been found.


The first exploration of the northern United States east of the Rocky Mountains is commemorated by the Verendrye National Monument at the Old Crossing of the Missouri River in North Dakota. Here rises Crowhigh Butte, on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, an eminence commanding a wide view in every direction.

Verendrye, the celebrated French explorer, started from the north shore of Lake Superior about 1740 and passed westward and southward into the regions of the great plains. He or his sons, for the records of their journeys are confusing, passed westward into Montana along a course which Lewis and Clark paralleled in 1806, swung southward in the neighborhood of Fort Benton, and skirted the Rockies nearly to the middle of Wyoming, passing within a couple of hundred miles of the Yellowstone National Park.

Crowhigh Butte is supposed to have given the Verendryes their first extensive view of the upper Missouri. The butte was long a landmark to guide early settlers to Old Crossing.


Congress created the Sully's Hill National Park in North Dakota in 1904 in response to a local demand. Its hills and meadows constitute a museum of practically the entire flora of the State. The United States Biological Survey maintains there a wild-animal preserve for elk, bison, antelope, and other animals representative of the northern plains.


On Baranoff Island, upon the southeastern shore of Alaska, is a reservation known as the Sitka National Monument which commemorates an important episode in the early history of Alaska. On this tract, which lies within a mile of the steamboat-landing at Sitka, formerly stood the village of the Kik-Siti Indians who, in 1802, attacked the settlement of Sitka and massacred the Russians who had established it. Two years later the Russians under Baranoff recovered the settlement from the Indians, contrary to the active opposition of Great Britain, and established the title which they afterward transferred to the United States. Graves of some of those who fell in the later battle may be seen.

The reservation is also a fine exhibit of the forest and flora of the Alexander Archipelago. Sixteen totem-poles remain from the old native days.


Remains of the rapidly passing native life of the Alexander Archipelago on the southeast coast of Alaska are conserved in the Old Kasaan National Monument on the east shore of Prince of Wales Island. The village of Old Kasaan, occupied for many years by the Hydah tribe and abandoned a decade or more ago, contains several community houses of split timber, each of which consists of a single room with a common fireplace in the middle under a smoke-hole in the centre of the roof. Cedar sleeping-booths, each the size of an ordinary piano-box, are built around the wall.

The monument also possesses fifty totem-poles, carved and richly colored.

* * * * *

Of the thirty-six national monuments, twenty-four are administered by the National Parks Service, ten by the Department of Agriculture, and two by the War Department. Congress made the assignments to the Department of Agriculture on the theory that, as these monuments occurred in forests, they could be more cheaply administered by the Forest Service; but, as many of the other monuments and nearly all the national parks also occur in forests, the logic is not apparent, and these monuments suffer from disassociation with the impetus and machinery of the National Park Service.

The Big Hole Battlefield National Monument, about fifty-five miles southwest of Butte, Montana, was assigned to the War Department because a battle took place there in 1877 between a small force of United States troops and a large force of Indians.







The proposed Jackson Hole addition is enclosed by a broken line south of boundary]





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