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Gatlin Site - Gila Bend, AZ

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18 2 3
Guide 2 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Buckeye SW
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HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
Statistics
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Loop 1.15 miles
Trailhead Elevation 705 feet
Elevation Gain 50 feet
Accumulated Gain 75 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 1.53
Interest Ruins & Historic
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
13  2011-12-18
Along the Gila Trail - Dec2011
Randal_Schulhaus
18  2009-01-24 Randal_Schulhaus
Author Randal_Schulhauser
author avatar Guides 71
Routes 98
Photos 9,967
Trips 1,009 map ( 9,248 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
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Preferred   Dec, Jan, Feb, Nov
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:36pm
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Culture Nearby
Hohokam platforms at the crossroads!
by Randal_Schulhauser

Notice: If the site is closed, do not jump fences or enter illegally. Do not contact HAZ on this listing, contact the author. Employees of the city of Gila Bend claim there is false information on this page.


History: Back in the 1950's in an area just north of Gila Bend where Slick Gatlin was running cows, the locals could always count on finding projectile points or pot sherds whenever the mood struck to go Indian artifact hunting. Bring a shovel along and you might even unearth a complete pot or some bone fragments. It wasn't uncommon in the 1950's to find extensive private collections of ancient artifacts in the homes of some Gila Bend residents. So it was in Arizona prior to the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979...

On July 25th, 1957 the Army Corp of Engineers began construction of the Painted Rocks Dam. As part of the project, an extensive archeological survey of the Painted Rocks area was funded. One contract under the Reservoir Salvage Act was awarded to the Arizona State Museum (ASM) led by William Wasley and Alfred Johnson to excavate the Fortified Hill (aka Fortaleza Site), the nearby Gatlin Site, and numerous satellite locations. When the $13.7M dam construction was completed on January 18th, 1960 Wasley and Johnson focused their attention on the ever expanding Gatlin Site.

Wasley and Johnson published their report in 1965 detailing the Gila Bend region as a distinctive variant of Hohokam culture. Between 800 AD and 1200 AD the Gatlin Site was the center of an important Hohokam farming and manufacturing community. Situated at the crossroads of the east-west transportation corridor along the Gila River and the north-south salt route from Phoenix to the Sea of Cortez, it was also an important trading center. The Gatlin Site was the largest community in the area, home to over 500 people. The presence of two ceremonial ball courts and one of the earliest platform mounds confirms the community prominence. Some of the artifacts unearthed including rare copper bells, stone mirrors, macaw feathers, and marine shell indicate trade with mesoamerica to the south whereas Kayenta polychrome indicate trade with the north.

Despite the 1964 designation as a National Historic Landmark, the Gatlin Site lay in disuse until the early 1990's when the Town of Gila Bend in cooperation with the Agua Fria Chapter of the Arizona Archeological Society began to rehabilitate the site with a vision to make it a public park. Dr. David Doyel was lured away from Pueblo Grande in Phoenix to lead this venture.

Operating on a shoe-string budget, but supported by a fanatical base of patrons and volunteer workers, the vision of transforming the Gatlin Site into a historic public cultural park is close to realization...

Hike: Look for the gated south entrance along Stout Road. Starting from the south parking lot near the visitor's center, we gather to meet our guide, site archeologist, Dr. David Doyel. Dr. Doyel welcomes the group and begins to explain the significance of this site and his vision of a public archeological park along the lines of Pueblo Grande or Casa Grande.

Our first stop along the interpretive trail is the 1960 Wasley and Johnson platform mound excavation site. Dr. Doyel explains that the excavations were buried in the early 1960's and recent work by site volunteers has focused on stabilizing the platform mound leaving much of it undisturbed for a future generation. It's Dr. Doyel's opinion that until the archaeological park has about $0.5M available to "Do it Right", it should remain undisturbed.

Continuing north along the interpretive trail, a spur to the east offers a view of the remains of an ancient irrigation canal. Dr. Doyel says that the presence of multiple irrigation canals confirms the importance of farming to this Hohokam community.

The next series of stops high light the transportation crossroads at the Gatlin Site - ancient trade routes, Gila Pioneer Trail, the Butterfield Stage Route, and the Old Phoenix Highway. All of these traversed the grounds of the Gatlin Site...

The interpretive trail winds its way between platform mounds and the reconstruction of some ancient pit houses. Many monochrome pottery sherds are noted beside the trail. At the trails northern terminus near the Gila River, views of Fortaleza Ruins Site can be seen to the west.

Summary: We started the day with an interesting lunch time lecture by Dr. Dave Morris at the Gila Bend Community Center. We ended the day back at the Community Center with a comprehensive dinner time lecture by Dr. David Doyel on the "Archeology of the Gila Bend Frontier". In between, we toured the "soon-to-open" Gatlin Site with the site archeologist viewing the ruins of a Hohokam Indian village and platform mound dated approximately 1000 A.D. A new round of site development began in 2004 when the Town of Gila Bend was awarded an Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund Matching Grant allowing construction of a 6,772 foot interpretive trail that winds its way through the site. This 110 acre site is a labour of love for the many volunteers. Their dream of an archaeological park and desert botanical gardens for public visitation is close to realization. Enjoy!

2009-11-02 Note: From Page 7 of the November 2009 issue of "The Petroglyph", the monthly newsletter of the Arizona Archaeological Society:

Due to changes in the makeup of the city government of Gila Bend, the Agua Fria Chapter will no longer be associated with the work at the Gatlin Site. After 16 years of toil, sweat, time and money, Roy and Ella Pierpoint are no longer the driving force behind the project and as a result, our advisor, Dr. Dave Doyel, and the Chapter "laborers" have withdrawn their support. We with the town of Gila Bend the best as they search for a "better" way to conduct the work at the site.

Check out the Triplogs.

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2009-02-01 Randal_Schulhauser
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Gatlin Site - Gila Bend
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    Along the Gila Trail - Dec2011
    Along the Gila Trail - Dec2011

    Put some miles on the F-150 today dodging rain showers and retracing a section of the GILA TRAIL while on the "trail of the ancients" from;

    Casa Grande Ruins National Monument => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=836
    Hohokam Pima National Monument (aka "Snaketown") => http://www.nps.gov/pima/index.htm
    Patio Area Petroglyph Site => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=16371
    Gatlin Site - Gila Bend => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1961
    Painted Rocks Petroglyph Site => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=787
    Sears Point Petroglyph Site => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=868
    Antelope Hill Petroglyph Site => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=892
    Confluence of Gila River with Colorado River near Yuma AZ? => Unexplored territory for this author (but suspect the area is rich in ancient artifacts...)

    Missed out on a "drive-by" of the Fortaleza Ruins between the Gatlin Site and Painted Rocks Petroglyph Site => viewtopic.php?t=2915#p32656

    I've embedded in a HAZ FORUM post a reference document I used researching the GILA TRAIL => viewtopic.php?t=6627 . Thought I would share with HAZ members.

    I'd appreciate hearing from anyone with some "insights" on rock art near the confluence of the Gila and Colorado Rivers. I've never had a chance to explore this area and suspect there are some significant sites. :wrt:


    Started the day heading down the I-10 towards Casa Grande searching out the "Snaketown" site near Gila River bridge. From the NPS website;

    "Hohokam Pima National Monument was authorized by Congress on October 21, 1972, to protect an ancient Hohokam village known today as "Snaketown." Excavations in the 1930's and again in the 1960's revealed the site was inhabited from about 300 BC to around 1200 AD and may have had up to 2,000 inhabitants. Following the last excavations, the site was completely recovered with earth, leaving nothing visible above ground. The Monument is located on the Gila River Indian Reservation and is under tribal ownership. The Gila River Indian Community has decided not to open the extremely sensitive area to the public. There is no park brochure, passport stamp, picture stamp or other free literature available. Snaketown was first excavated in 1934 by the Gila Pueblo Foundation, under the direction of Harold S. Gladwin. Between 1964-1965, a second excavation was led by Emil Haury. The two expeditions discovered that the site contained more than sixty midden mounds. A central plaza and two ovel shaped fields were surrounded by pit houses, and an elaborate irrigation system fed the nearby fields in which beans, maize and squash were grown."

    My home library has many historical photos from the principal archeologists from the "Snaketown digs" and I recall some of the artifacts are on display at the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. I conduct a drive-by of the Snaketown site bounded by the I-10 on the east, the Gila River on the south, Maricopa Road on the west and Riggs Road on the north. The site is completely buried, unkown, and returned to nature. Check out the 2009 video archive posted by University of Arizona commemorating the excavation's 75th anniversary => http://uanews.org/node/26247

    I now head towards the village of Maricopa and Hwy 238 in search of the Patio Area Petroglyph Site => http://www.brazilbrazil.com/patio.html A chance to explore before a squall line comes in from the south bringing some serious rain. Time to head out.

    A stop at the Shawmutt Trainspotting Loop yields some interesting clouds. The dogs are appreciative of the chance to stretch their legs after that bumpy escape along the 4x4 tracks from the Patio Area.

    Next up is the Gatlin Site. A sad, lonely spot after the acrimonious divorce between the Town of Gila Bend and the Arizona Archeological Society.

    A stop in Gila Bend to pick up some 'burgs and we make the trek out to the Painted Rocks Petroglyph Site to enjoy lunch in the pouring rain!

    Sears Point and Antelope Hill (was also going to check the nearby Texas Hill rock art site, but had enough rain for one day) are up next before the stretch run home to catch the 2nd half and OT of the Cards game...
    Gatlin Site - Gila Bend
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    Attended the Arizona Archeological Society state meeting in Gila Bend with Mike Mattes. Interesting group and picked up a multitude of tips for some upcoming treks to El Camino del Diablo and the Seven Lost Cities of Perry Mesa.

    Lot's of weekend field trips to choose from;
    - Gatlin Site with Dave Doyel
    - Red Rock Canyon with Roy Pierpoint
    - Agua Caliente Historic Site & Gila Bend Museum

    - Gunnery Range Sites with Adrianne Rankin
    - Painted Rocks and Hummingbird Point Petroglyph Sites with Cheryl Blanchard
    - Pierpoint and Enterprise Sites with Bob Lindsay
    - Gillespie Dam Petroglyph Site with Roy Pierpoint


    Serendipity? Also discovered that Dr. David Doyel is the Cultural Resource Manager for Luke Air Force Base and Barry M. Goldwater Range. Had a good discussion about the ancient trade and salt route that traverses the BMGR and El Camino del Diablo. Provides context for all the glyphs near Charlie Bell Pass and Tinaja Altas. Found it interesting that many of the artifacts uncovered during the Wasley and Johnson excavations during the late 50's and early 60's were recently repratriated to many of the local Indian bands and likely reburried in secret locations...

    More Serendipity? At the AAS book sale, picked up an archeological survey of Perry Mesa for $1

    If you've got a passion for ancient ruins, rock art, or southwest history, check out the Arizona Archeological Society and their website...

    Permit $$
    Special Use

    Special
    No public access. Guided tours only.


    Directions
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    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    Notice: If the site is closed, do not jump fences or enter illegally. Do not contact HAZ on this listing, contact the author. Employees of the city of Gila Bend claim there is false information on this page.

    Directions to trail (synopsis): From Phoenix, take the I-10 East towards Tucson. At exit 164 for Hwy 347, travel West and South 15 miles to the rapidly growing town of Maricopa. Turn right at the Hwy 238 (aka Maricopa Road) intersection and travel 38 miles to the town of Gila Bend. At the Hwy 85 intersection, turn left (West) and as you pass through an underpass at the east end of town, look for Old Hwy 85. Turn right (North) and as Old Hwy 85 begins to fork right, take Stout Road straight north about 1 mile where you will meet the stop-signed intersection with Watermelon Road. Continue north about 1/2 miles until you pass an electrical power plant on your right hand side and on your left (West side) you will see signage for "Gatlin Site".

    GPS coordinates for trail head parking at the Gatlin Site Visitor Center are 32o 58.800'N, 112o 42.110'W. The Gatlin Site is not currently open to the general public, but private tours can be arranged through the Town of Gila Bend. The Agua Fria Chapter of the Arizona Archeological Society frequently leads field trips to the Gatlin Site.

    For more information, contact;
    The Town of Gila Bend
    644 W. Pima Street
    P.O. Box A
    Gila Bend, Arizona 85337
    Phone: (928) 683-2255
    page created by Randal_Schulhauser on Feb 01 2009 7:34 pm
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