Tuzigoot National Monument

Description - History

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Cultural History

Native Peoples

Archeologists regard the Verde Valley as an aboriginal melting pot where at least four prehistoric cultures intermingled. Tuzigoot -- Apache for "crooked water" -- is the remnant of a Sinagua village erected between 1125 and 1400 AD. It stands on the summit of a limestone and sandstone ridge that rises 120 feet above the floodplain on the north side of the Verde River, 25 miles west of Montezuma Castle.


The Sinagua -- Spanish for "without water" -- lived in the Verde Valley foothills and the plateau beyond around 600 AD. Like the Anasazi, they were pithouse dwellers and dry farmers, who depended on rain for their crops. By 1125 they began to build above ground masonry structures and large pueblos on hilltops or in the alcoves of cliffs. Tuzigoot represents the vestiges of one of several such towns in the vicinity. The original pueblo had 77 ground floor rooms and at least 15 rooms on the second floor, for a total of 92 excavated rooms. Since there were few exterior doors, residents climbed wood-pole ladders through hatchways in the roofs.


Tuzigoot house

The village began as a small cluster of rooms that were inhabited by about 50 persons for a century or so. In the 1200s, the population doubled and then doubled again as refugee farmers, fleeing drought in outlying areas, settled here.

Exploration & Settlement

Legend has it that a small party of Spanish explorers discovered gold near the Verde Fault in 1583, but it is the copper mineral malachite which is said to have given the Verde (Spanish for "green") Valley its name.

The real treasure in the region, though, was chalcopyrite which was mined near Jerome, between 1876 and 1953; Clarkdale was the site of the smelting mill. After white settlement of the area, farmers and ranchers, then prospectors and miners began prospecting the site, but because Tuzigoot was on land owned by the United Verde Company, it was probably better protected than many other sites.

Tuzigoot buildings

Park History

In 1933, local and federal support helped Louis Caywood and Edward Spicer begin clearing the Tuzigoot site and by 1935, they had excavated the main block of rooms and numerous small surrounding units. They exposed 86 rooms of an estimated 110, and encountered several hundred burials near the main building.

When excavation stopped, floors and masonry walls were preserved, and several rooms were restored for public display. With additional federal funds, a museum was constructed nearby to house and display the collection of artifacts from the ruins.

Finally, public-spirited local citizens managed to have the entire ridge with the site of Tuzigoot, the museum and its collection donated to the federal government. President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed it Tuzigoot National Monument in in 1939.

Natural History

Plants & Animals

Abundant water in the Verde Valley offers a rich habitat for deer, antelope, rabbit, muskrat, prairie dogs, ducks and other birds.


The Verde Valley runs between the mountainous highlands -- the Black Hills -- of central Arizona to the south, and the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau -- the Mogollon Rim -- to the north.

This valley was created by the Verde Fault, which eventually caused the Black Hills to be uplifted more than 4,000 feet while impounding the Verde River into a series of lakes. Tributary streams drained the limestone surface of the Coconino Plateau from the north into these lakes, creating 3,000-feet-thick deposits called the Verde Formation.

One branch of the Verde Fault runs through Clarkdale, a mile southwest of Tuzigoot, then Highway 89A climbs 4,000 feet to the to of the Black Hills where lava flows lie atop of Paleozoic and Precambrian strata near Jerome.

Jerome, which became a copper-mining boom town for almost a century, clings to steep slopes of the Black Hills lying between two branches of the Verde Fault where the richest ores lie along folds in the ancient volcanic cap rock. Chalcopyrite which was mined near Jerome between 1876 and 1953, produced $375 million in copper, in addition to some silver, gold and zinc.

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