River House ruins

Stephen Fischer Photography

River House ruins are quite extensive and unique for some of the structures.  One central area of the main structure consists of a circular open room that most likely was used for ceromonial purposes (see image 2).  At the base of this circular area there is small cut-out in the side wall similar to what I have seen at Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde. From what I remember from that visit, this was used to support a vent for a fire.  In addition, there are some smaller rooms that are quite tall with windows higher up that feed off this main circular area.  Based on some of the holes in the walls, clearly at one time timbers held up a 2nd floor that has since collapsed (image 3).

Further up canyon to the north (~ 1/2 mile apart for each) you can find two very large panels of petroglyphs along with some smaller ones in between.  These large panels are the most significant ones I have seen anywhere and quite remarkable for the variety of different pictures of varying age.  Some are very high up on the wall and must have been carved hundreds of years before the newers ones lower down, as the river carried away more sediment from this canyon floor.  One interesting petroglyph I found near the bottom of one panel depicts an indiant standing on a horse in pursuit of what looks like an antelope on a hunt (see image 11). This would imply a date sometime after the arrival of the spanish when they introduced horses to the North American continent.  This is curious as I understand most of these cliff dwellings were abandoned by 1300 when the population collapsed as a result of an extended  drought in the region.  Perhaps not all were, as the River house area of the southern Butler wash basin seems like it would be especially fertile for agriculture.



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All content and images are property of Stephen Fischer Photography, copyright 2011.   Last updated: 5/19/2011