Suggestion For Goat Camp Ruins



Peter Aleshire’s interesting articles regarding the Payson trail system and the Goat Camp ruins lead me to make a suggestion to the Rim archaeological group.

First, let me say that about 18 years ago a Phoenix archaeologist who I knew was asked to prepare a “park” drawing to plan something around the Goat Camp ruins. After three tries, one was accepted. It was great, with sidewalks and parking, etc. Promoting the ruins as a tourist attraction today sounds great, however, it will never draw visitors unless at least one ruin is excavated.

No one really wants to see just a bunch of rocks laying around on the ground. If there is nothing to see, no one will come. That is exactly what has happened to the Shoofly ruins. Word has come out that there is nothing to see there, except a nice walkway and some very expensive signs. There are no ruins to see except one small corner of a dwelling wall. I was at the grand opening of that ruin giving treats and walks. It looked great, but it never took off. Indeed, there is a lot of trashing going on at the park. Its failure has apparently stopped the plans to have another park in the area of the Rye and Deer Creek junction. That was planned to begin after the water line was completed from the Deer Creek housing to the rest area on Highway 188.

Just talking about an archaeological site without seeing parts of it is a failure. If you want to see a great tourist attraction, go to Globe and see the Besh-Ba-Gowah archaeological park.

Regarding Mr. Aleshire’s article in the Nov. 11 Roundup, the statement that abandonment of the sites after 1100 A.D. in our area and others was due to “warfare and insecurity,” is partly true. That occurred because of a long and serious drought beginning at that time.

In 1985, while an NPS ranger at Capitol Reef National Park, I was asked to document all the known archaeological sites within the borders of the park located in south central Utah. The main reason was to see if any of them were damaged by park visitors. In the process, I found upward to 30 sites that had never been documented. In August of that year, I was invited, as were other rangers from other parks in southern Utah and Colorado, to take part in a finally completed and serious study as to why the Native Americans who built outstanding cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, located in the southwest corner of Colorado, left their beautiful homes. The meeting took place at an archaeological site and museum near the top of Boulder Mountain at Boulder, Utah. The conclusion was that a major drought that began in the late 11th century and lasting into the 13th century was the cause that made the Native Americans in the West leave the area. Some think they went south. Others east into the mountains. Those interested in the drought story may want to read the “Drying of the West” article that appeared in the February 2008 issue of the National Geographic.

Recently I spoke with Peter Aleshire about the “Spanish ruins” located in the wilderness area just west of the Doll Baby Ranch. I told him that I felt that site name interesting since many think the Spanish never came this far north. I believe they did. From interviews I have had with the Randall and Harrison families in Payson, both old-timers, (I believe) both Spanish and Native Americans may have built those ruins.

The earliest Randall in our area arrived in the 1800s, perhaps around 1885. He settled on the Polles Mesa, northwest of the Spanish ruins. He ran across a small shack that he lived in and later made larger. That is the area where the LF Ranch is located. He claimed to have seen the Spanish ruins not long after he had settled.

The Harrison family has told me that a long time ago, a Spanish “breastplate” had been found at the site.

The Spanish ruins, to me, look like a corral. There is no stone wall on the north side, just a cliff drop off. At the entrance door on the east side of the site, a few feet forward of the entrance, is a short wall, apparently to force cattle or other wildlife to go to the right. At the southwest end of the ruin is a separate area that looks like a storage area for cattle food. South of the ruins there is a drop off, and looking down, you can see some metates, and near them, there is a small cave that early natives lived in. They were there long before the Spanish ruins were built. So be it. My end of the story.

David Engleman


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