Monday, November 28, 2016

Montezuma Well - Verde Valley AZ

Approximately 1600 years ago, the "Sinagua" people settled into the Verde Valley and Sedona areas. They eventually built and occupied cliff dwellings, pit houses, pueblos, and other masonry structures. For reasons known only to them, the Sinagua eventually abandoned the structures about 700 years ago.  The word "Sinagua" is Spanish for "without water." What they called themselves is unknown, but we do know that they are linked with the Hopi and Hohokam tribes. Today, members of the Apache and Yavapai tribes live in the area. Some say that the vanished "Sinagua" people are part of one or more of these other four groups today.
Montezuma Well (unrelated to Montezuma and not really a well) is a large limestone sinkhole with a seemingly endless supply of water.

Even during periods of drought, over 1.5 million gallons of water flows into, and out of this sinkhole everyday. Water leaves the "well" after passing through limestone, and into an irrigation ditch. The ditch has been dated at over 1,000 years old, and is still used today.

Some of the Sinagua cliff houses are visible just under the rim (in the upper middle of the pic)

A better view. These ruins have not been "re-built."

The following several photos are ruins that are lower and closer to the water exit.

Historical graffiti
Graffiti this old is actually protected

Pueblo ruins very close to the edge of the sinkhole.

The remains of the foundation of a "pit-house." This is also close to the sinkhole. Poles were placed in the holes to help support and shape the roof and walls. The entrance was on the left. The only restoration work is a "mud" based paint that is used to coat and protected what is left.

This structure protects the pit-house from the weather.

Not related, but just because I like the way it looks.

See previous post on Montezuma's Castle HERE.


  1. Amazing how well everything has held up. With that well, they certainly weren't without water.

  2. It is interesting how many places in the Southwest had communities that disappeared a millennial ago. Beautiful photos.

  3. Some say that the US have a short history. They should read your blog. Fascinating about such a "bottomless" sinkhole - it must have a value for the people beyond imagination.

    PS I "saw" a crocodile in your last photo :-)

  4. I love that the old graffiti is protected! Interesting about Montezuma's well...given that it passes through limestone was the water drinkable?

  5. Fascinating to see how the old structures endure.

  6. What a great place, and it's in a beautiful setting.

  7. Very cool. Makes you wonder what the place might've looked like when it was inhabited.

  8. Alex J. Cavanaugh - Yep, I think they had just about everything they needed. At least for a while.

    Sage - Thanks! Probably drought that made them move.

    visualnorway - Compared to some places, I guess it is pretty short, but a very eventful history it was.

    Brian - It sure is Brian!

    TheChieftess - I'm not sure if it is drinkable or not, but there is a large creek very near to this place.

  9. William Kendall - The desert and high desert seems to preserve things. It's people that usually destroy everything.

    Al - It is indeed a great place.

    DEZMOND - VERY beautiful!

    mshatch - I always think about that also.

  10. VisualNorway - I almost forgot! I clearly see a crocodile in that photo also. The eye especially...

  11. We had such a wonderful time in Sedona this summer. My experience there really impacted my novel. The main reason for our visit. Research! I have a selection of photos on my photography blog. But I haven't gotten around to posting many on my main travel blog. I'm backlogged! That's a good problem to have for someone who loves to travel. Thanks for the tour of these ruins. I loved your photos below too. What a special place. We'll be back.

  12. A beautiful and interesting place to explore. Interesting about the protected graffiti too. Love the last photo!

  13. The sinkhole is amazing ... it all is really. That old graffiti is protected kind of makes my thought process get all jumbled up.... kind of a gray area. Life is full of those.

  14. Hi Pat! Thanks for visiting me over at my new digs :-) Still a lot of changes afoot there...

    It's great to see you are still an active blogger. Great post, as always

  15. "Water leaves the "well" after passing through limestone, and into an irrigation ditch. The ditch has been dated at over 1,000 years old, and is still used today."

    Pat, that blows me away because I am so utterly fascinated and interested in history. That's why I'm always taking pictures of historical buildings, I find them so interesting.

    Your photographs are AWESOME! Love the ones of the historical graffiti. And I think it's wonderful that they protect it.

    Thanks for sharing another interesting and educational post! Enjoyed!

  16. What lovely shots! And how unusual to see that water amidst the dry landscape.

  17. Absolutely fascinating Pat. I don't know whether you ever saw The Ascent of Man (one of the best TV programs ever made), but I was immediately reminded of Episode 3, which deals with the Pueblo civilizations of this area. The presenter is probably the cleverest man I've ever encountered.

    Incidentally, just because the water has flowed through limestone doesn't make it poisonous. It just makes it hard, which means that getting soap to lather is a lot more difficult.

  18. Sharon Wagner - It is a great place. I'll go have a look at those photos. Thanks for the link and good luck with your novel.

    Robin Andrea - It really is something to see (and explore). Amazing to think that this place was already abandoned for close to 600 years when the earliest of that graffiti (1882) was done.

    Sallie (FullTime-Life) - I agree Sallie! It is kind of conflicting.

    Nat - Hi Nat! My pleasure, it is really nice to see you posting again. I like your new digs.

  19. Ron - I'm right there with you about history. Thanks for the nice words Ron.

    Lady Fi - Thanks Fiona! There is a small town nearby that uses some of the water today.

    Dennis Hodgson - Thanks Dennis! There are some amazing Pueblos around there. Some had hundreds of rooms. Thanks for the info on the water. All of the water around there is VERY hard.

  20. wow, that´s an interesting place and so good to learn it´s history :)

  21. Hello, it is cool to see the dwellings and the sinkhole. It is great to have an endless supply of water. Great series of photos. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day!

  22. You paint the kind of picture that really sets my imagination into overdrive Pat ☺ I'm trying to imagine what this scene would have looked like way back then. I'm so curious as to whether the water in the sinkhole is drinkable or not.. the houses built into the cliff tops are fascinating.. imagine, 1800 style graffiti.. astonishing!
    P.s. Just went back to look at you photos from last post again, and yes.. still incroyable!

  23. A beautiful spot, Pat, and one can easily understand why the ancients were drawn to this location.

  24. NatureFootstep - Yep, it is an interesting to visit. The whole area is interesting.

    eileeninmd - Thanks Eileen! They were doing just fine until the white people showed up.

    PerthDailyPhoto - Thanks Grace. These places do the same to my imagination also. Dennis (in his comment) above, said that passing through limestone would make the water very hard, still drinkable.

    Spare Parts and Pics - It is a great spot, in fact the whole area is full of great spots.

  25. I just now finished reading an archaeological document relating to the "disappearance" of the Sinagua from this area. Recent information (including tribal oral histories) suggests that the Sinagua likely abandoned this site and possibly the area, because of attacks by neighboring tribes.

    Nothing definitive, but interesting for sure...

  26. Wonderful part of the world - I went to Montezuma's Castle when I was in that area.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  27. What a beautiful location! That well is just amazing.

  28. Stewart M - It sure is. Montezuma's castle is in better shape than almost any of the cliff dwellings in the southwest. This place is about 10 miles from there.

    Baby Sister - It certainly is! Very interesting also. This folks did just fine without us...

  29. This is so so fascinating from an archaeological perspective! Wow.

  30. Optimistic Existentialist - I totally agree with you. I love this stuff...

  31. Imagine what this place was and how it appeared, and affected people 200 plus years ago. What a center of commerce it must have been, and imagine the politics about control of the area and water.....

  32. Belle année à toi!
    J'aime beaucoup tes derniers posts, j'espère que tu vas bien!
    Trop de travail pour venir plus souvent!
    Bisous- Cath.

  33. Should Fish More - Hey Mike! Those of some of things I always think about in these places. It's too bad we screwed everything up.

    cathHC Photographie - Thank you Cath!

    Liz - Thanks Liz!

  34. Great stuff Patt, looks like somebody shot the clown face....


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