A couple of years ago I posted about Chavez Pass and the Sinaqua and that post has proved to be a highly popular post. But one thing I didn’t go in detail about was the trail that runs through the pass known as the Chavez Pass Trail or simply as the Chavez Trail.
Chavez Pass south of Winslow, Arizona
This trail existed in the last 35 years of the 19th century and it was not only well used but was also very important. It crossed the southern part of of Central Arizona’s Verde Valley linking Winslow on the Colorado Plateau to Prescott in the central Arizona highlands. Prescott was the location of a very import military installation known as Ft. Whipple. The trail was established in 1864 by US Army Colonel Francisco Chavez and it ran for 125 miles. Although somewhat rough and rocky in places the trail was relatively straight making travel rather easy for the times.
Artistic reconstruction of the Sinaqua Ruins at Chavez Pass. They were excavated and reburied.
Winslow was known as “Sunset Crossing” at the time Chavez established the trail and what many don’t know is that the Chavez Trail was actually established over a much older trail which was an old Hopi and Sinaqua trail. That Continue Reading
Located in Northern Arizona Chavez Pass is a pleasant place amid its juniper and pinion forest. It’s located about half way between Winslow and Pine, Arizona. It’s been a favorite hunting spot for hunters over the decades but there is something else there too. Ruins! And I plan to visit the site again this coming summer and I will share my research and photos with you here.
Sinagua Ruins in Chavez Pass, AZ also known as Nuvaqueotaka Ruins
The ruins are the remains of a rather extensive paleoindian settlement. They were made by a people known as the Sinaqua and the majority of the complex remains buried even though extensive excavations have been conducted there by various universities including Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University. The name “Sinagua” comes from the combination of two Spanish words. “Sin” means “without” and “agua” means “water” so the name means “without water” or “no water.” Even though the region is forest water is scarce. There are not only ruins but also petroglyphs.
Several human remains have been excavated from the site and you can find a list of them at the NPS link below. Of note is that about 22,000 years ago a meteor struck in the area northwest of the ruins and today it is known as Meteor Crater which is near Interstate 40 between Flagstaff and Winslow, Arizona. Many scientists believe the mass was part of a planet that once existed between Mars and Jupiter destroyed by some unknown cosmic collision! The impact created a massive crater and the soil was thrown out for miles and miles around the area.
The Sinagua were a pre-Columbian paleoindian culture that occupied a large portion of what is today central Arizona including the Little Colorado River Valley, the Mogollon Rim, the Salt River, and Verde Valley between 500 AD and 1425 AD. Their homes were mostly pit houses similar to those built by another native peoples in the area called the Hohokam who mostly lived in what is today southern Arizona. Later the Sinagua began building other structures that were like the Pueblos seen in other parts of the southwestern US. For the most part the Sinagua were farmers and hunter-gatherers. Continue Reading