March 3, 2010
Today, as I traveled from Flagstaff to Marana just north of Tucson, I visited a lot of homes and a lot of rocks. Here in central Arizona you don’t have many choices but to build right on the rocks, in the rocks, or as part of the rocks. Here are three rocky ways I discovered to have a home in Arizona.
Homes Built in a Rock
Also protected by the National Monument but several miles away from the main unit of the park is Montezuma Well. The Sinagua people abandoned central Arizona around 1425, but the Yavapai believe their people were brought into the world at the well which is a limestone sinkhole. The pond in the sinkhole has an outlet to Beaver Creek along with a canal system which delivered water further downstream. The well is coming under the assault of modern man with the spreading of Illinois Pondweed, but it is still a sight with small dwellings squeezed into the limestone walls surrounding the pond.
Homes Built on Top of a Rock
Homes Built on the Side of a Rock
To the southwest of Tuzigoot rises Mingus Mountain in the Black Hills range. US Route 89 Alt starts its climb up the mountain and at about 5,200 feet above sea level (and 1,500 above Tuzigoot), you come upon the mining town of Jerome. The town was founded around 1880 for the rich copper deposits in the area, and like many mining towns built near the mineral deposits, the town is built on the side of the side of a mountain. For Jerome, it is Cleopatra Hill. To get from the bottom of Jerome to the top, you have to drive through four 180 degree turns. Waiting for you at the top is the Jerome Grand Hotel. Along this turny drive, you see old homes built of brick or wood that may be even up on top but are uneven and at a steep angle on the bottom. Here in Jerome back in the old days it was a whole lot easier to build an uneven bottom in the house to follow the hillside than to excavate the hillside to level out a building pad. Jerome has not abandoned like Montezuma Castle or Tuzigoot, but it has shrunk with the when the mines shut down. However, the town has a strong art and tourism sector which is supporting the preservation and restoration of the historic buildings even if they may be a little crooked.