It is the most exciting prehistoric ruin I have yet seen in the Rim country.
Hiking to the Boardinghouse Canyon Ruin seemed the timely thing to do because this coming weekend there will be an invasion of archaeologists in Payson. They have chosen our town as the location for their annual celebration of Arizona Archaeology Month.
And if not here, where?
Anyone who has hiked the ridges, climbed the mountains, or meandered along the streams has surely encountered evidence of The Ancient Ones.
The ruins of stone pueblos, pot sherds, tools, metates and manos, and petroglyphs literally cover the landscape. One gets the feeling of the metropolitan sprawl that began in the 7th century, thrived in the 13th century, and declined in the 14th century. These people were here for a long time.
Payson may have been "the Wall Street" of those days, a trading center where the surrounding cultures came together with the local folks for peaceful exchange.
"Peaceful" that is until the population explosion and prolonged drought caused a food shortage.
At that point the usually open villages began to fortify, sealing up the entrances to their plazas and filling in the many doorways that led from room to room in their apartments.
A major evidence of danger from marauding tribes is that several major fortifications were built on high mesas.
The other day, five of us drove to the end of Doll Baby Road and hiked into the Mazatzal Wilderness.
We clambered up the steep side of a hill to the top. The view is awesome.
Here the ancient people had built a marvelous fortress, with six-foot high stone walls masterfully laid and a labyrinth to negotiate for an entrance.
The fortress walls run out to a four- or five-hundred-foot sheer drop into the canyon below. Clustered to the southwest of the fortress are the ruins of a sizable pueblo.
One imagines the Apaches taking over this ancient site during the army campaigns from 1865 to 1882.
Here they could watch the U. S. cavalry and infantry detachments coming along several military trails that passed this way.
When one considers the richness of cultures that occupied this Rim country over the centuries, it is no wonder the real archaeologists along with the wannabes love this country.
Don't we all?
The Archaeology Month celebration is this weekend at the museums and park.