large Hohokam Indian pot was made between 900 and 1100 A.D.,
using the paddle-anvil technique. It was found in Colossal Cave
and was likely made from clay obtainable in the Park.
Gypsum Anthodite Cluster
Found in Arkenstone Cave with
blades two to three inches in length.
Posta Quemada Ranch Museum
The Ranch Headquarters
House on La Posta Quemada Ranch was built by John S. Sullivan in 1967
(the original adobe Ranch house burned to the ground in 1965). Today
it houses a museum with two focuses: the human history and the natural
historyspecifically that of cavesof Colossal Cave Mountain Park
and the Cienega Corridor region.
THE HISTORY ROOM:
The first person lived in Colossal Cave Mountain Park over a
thousand years ago. Around 900 A.D. the Hohokam Indians formed
a thriving community, farming in the valley below Colossal Cave.
They used the Cave itself for shelter and storage and as a shrine.
Pahos (painted "prayer
sticks"), miniature bows, a fragment of a miniature pot,
and reed "cigarettes" (which produced smoke symbolic
of clouds) are among the artifacts from Colossal Cave that had
ritual significance to the Hohokam.
Recent re-examination of artifacts found in Colossal Cave has
also revealed that, subsequent to Hohokam occupation of the area,
the Cave and no doubt other sites in Colossal Cave Mountain Park
were used by the Sobaipuri people. This was a proto-historic
people who occupied locations in southeastern Arizona from about
1440-1850 A.D. They left three arrowheads in Colossal Cave, two of which
are still bound to wooden foreshafts with sinew and an adhesive
obtained from plants or insects. To date these are the only known
examples of Sobaipuri arrowheads.
All these artifacts are currently on display in the History Room,
as well as a Timeline of the Park, an Ancient Weavers exhibit, and
a Prehistoric Cave Shrine exhibit. The exhibits in the History Room
also include artifacts from early Vailthe Town Between the
Tracksthat illuminate life in this tiny village in the early
part of the 20th century.
THE CAVING ROOMS:
Colossal Cave Mountain Park is fortunate to have three notable
caves within its boundaries. The first, of course, is Colossal
Cave itself, a fine dry cave that was developed for touring in
The others are wild caves; one is called Arkenstone, the other
La Tetera. They are live caves and, in order to protect their
delicate environments, they have been designated research sites,
and access is strictly limited to a handful of researchers.
The initial results of their work in Arkenstone are highlighted
in the Museum Caving Rooms.
The list of speleothems, or cave formations in Arkenstone is
extremely diverse and growing. Of these, many are exceptional
examples for both Arizona and the world. A wonderful collection
of photographs by researcher and photographer Randy Gruss lets
the viewer glimpse the beauty of Arkenstone Cave and see close
up some of the unique and rare formations it houses.
Arkenstone Cave also houses a varied and significant invertebrate
fauna, which is currently under intensive study. To date, seven
new species (hitherto unknown to science) have been confirmed.
Three of these species are endemics, that is, known only from
this Cave. The Biology Room highlights the ecology of caves and
focuses in particular on some of the unique species from Arkenstone.
The Twilight Room, through two full-color murals by artist Kim
Duffek, explores life in the mouth of a cave, with a focus on
bats, in particular those species to be found in Colossal Cave
These exhibits are all to be seen in the Caving Rooms as well
as a small historical exhibit that traces the way people have
lit their way in caves, starting with prehistory. Additional
displays are currently under construction. Also, we soon hope
to include exhibits on La Tetera Cave, a newly-discovered,
pristine cave with gorgeous formations and exciting potential
for research in paleontology.
The CCC Museum
In 1934, young
Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees began hewing huge limestone blocks,
milling lumber, and preparing flagstone for the Colossal Cave Project.
The project lasted almost four years. The CCC developed the tour route
in the Cave, enlarging the entrance, building bridges, laying flagstone
pathways, and installing handrails and lighting. They created the Picnic
Areas, building the roads and stone ramadas and even the picnic tables.
The most visible testimony to the work of the CCC at Colossal Cave Mountain
Park is the buildings. Still in use today are the handsome dressed-limestone
Headquarters buildings and ramada at Colossal Cave, the pumphouse and La
Selvilla barbecue ramada in the Picnic Areas, the bathhouse (now a barn)
and the adobe Park Service office building at La Posta Quemada Ranch. The
Ranch is the site of Camp SP-10-A, where the enrollees were housed.
In 1992, Colossal Cave Mountain Park was listed in the National Register
of Historic Places, largely due to the enduring work of the Civilian
In the fall of 2003, the adobe Park Service building, built and used by
the CCC as the office for the Colossal Cave Project, underwent historic
restoration. The vigas and window frames were restored. The building is
now protected by a new roof, which rests on strong new interior walls,
thus relieving the fragile adobe of the weight. The adobe walls were repaired
with new bricks made on-site.
March 27, 2004, marked the grand opening of the Civilian Conservation Corps
Museum, housed in the adobe and dedicated to the young men of Camp SP-10-A.
Evoking the 1930s, the Museum is set up like the Camp Commandant's office,
complete with furniture built by the enrollees and in use ever since. There's
a wonderful array of historic photographs of the camp and the men, including
some blown up almost life-size, and copies of the camp newsletters to browse
throughgreat reading! Visitors can also listen to a 1937 radio interview with
Robert Fechner, National Director of the CCC Located at the Park's La Posta
Quemada Ranch facility, the Museum is open for visitors every day.