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Hohokam Indian pot

This 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

Gypsum Anthodite Cluster
Found in Arkenstone Cave with
blades two to three inches in length.




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La 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 history—specifically that of caves—of Colossal Cave Mountain Park and the Cienega Corridor region.

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 Vail—the Town Between the Tracks—that illuminate life in this tiny village in the early part of the 20th century.

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 1930s.

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 Mountain Park.

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.

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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 Conservation Corps.

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 through—great 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.

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La Posta Quemada has been a working
ranch since the mid 1870s.

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The Cowboy


"The Cowboy"

A superb life-size sculpture - "The Cowboy" by Buck McCain - was unveiled and dedicated at La Posta Quemada Ranch on March 19, 1997. Over 50 people watched as the sculpture was unveiled from horseback!

La Posta Quemada has been a working ranch since the mid 1870s. This remarkable history, say the operators of the Park, made it the ideal location for a tribute to the working cowboy; hence the installation of the sculpture.

The statue was given to the Park by the non-profit Pima County Parklands Foundation. The Foundation's sole mission is to protect and enhance the parks of Pima County, Arizona.


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Colossal Cave Mountain Park
16721 E. Old Spanish Trail
Vail, AZ 85641 - 520.647.PARK (7275)

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