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Dicke, Robert J. (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume XLIV (1955)

McCabe, Robert A.
The prehistoric engineer-farmers of Chihuahua,   pp. 75-90 PDF (6.1 MB)


Page 76

 76 Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters [Vol. 44 
city of Aztalan to Anh~iuac in south Mexico. En route they supposedly stopped
at three places: Zuni in New Mexico, in the Gila valley in Arizona, and at
the Casas Grandes in Chihuahua. The Spanish historian Clavijero is quoted
by Cozzens~ as stating of the Chihuahuan Casas Grandes that they were "similar
in every respect to those of New Mexico." There seems to be little doubt
that the Casas Grandes in each case were built by people of the same culture.
 The builders of the large houses are thought by some to be descendents of
the cultured and skillful Toltecs, who were also predecessors of the fierce
and war-loving Aztecs. In the end it may have been the Aztec who waged war
on the town builder and eventually destroyed him. 
 One clue as to when the Casas Grandes fell is given by Wallace.6 In her
collection is a water vase from the Chihuahua ruins dated 1864. It has an
attached memorandum, part of which reads: "These Casas Grandes (great
houses)
were reduced to ruin by siege in 1070." This is signed "William
Pierson,
American Consul 1873." No further enlightenment regarding this date
is given
us by Susan E. Wallace who owns the vase and who presents the original information
in her book The Land of the Pueblos. 
THE TRINCHERAS 
 Virtually in the shadow of these house ruins that frustrate the antiquarian
are *other archeological features to intrigue the iowers of deductive reasoning.
These are numerous stone dams o~ walls found in the canyons and on mesas
in the surrounding ~ountains. These dams or trincheras rather than the Casas
Grandes seem to me to be the more interesting. 
 In the summer of 1948 I visited northwestern Chihuahua studying game animals
and collecting vertebrate specimens for the University of Wisconsin.~ Other
members of the party, Alden H. Miller, A. Starker Leopold, and Ward C. Russell,
were also there for the same purpose representing the University of California.
Floyd Johnson of Colonia Pacheco, our guide and packer, escorted us to our
first camp seven air-line miles southwest of Colonia Pacheco on the Gavilan
River. 
 Even in this remote and rugged mesa country the check dams were present
on almost every slope. These trincheras are built 
 ' Samuel Woodworth Cozzens. The Marvellous Country. Lee and Shepard, Boston,
t876, pp. 547. 
' Ibid., p. 235. 
 Supported by the University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture and a grant
from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. 


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