Chimney Rock 10th Anniversary

10/14/2022

September 24th, 2022 marked 10 years since Chimney Rock received National Monument designation. To acknowledge the occasion, Chimney Rock offered free admission to the monument, offered games, activities, and guided hikes, and invited several different groups to dance and perform on Saturday. The monument, located just south of Pagosa Springs, is part of the Chacoan architectural group and is a sacred site today to tribes descended from the Ancestral Puebloans. This story is sponsored by StoneAge and Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado

The great Chacoan culture rose from Chaco Canyon in New Mexico and spread across the Four Corners area. The people bringing their traditions and architecture along with them. Some sites, like Aztec ruins, have been preserved as national monuments for years. Chimney Rock, located just south of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, is the highest of all the Chaco insights and only received its designation as a national monument 10 years ago. On Saturday, September 24th, Chimney Rock observed its 10th year anniversary with festivities, dances and free admission for the public. You're watching the local news network brought to you by stone Age and the community foundation serving southwest colorado. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

Today, this event that we're having here is honoring the that designation and what it means for tribal communities and the preservation of the amazing, historic and prehistoric resource, prehistoric resources that are here at the site. This site is an incredibly important fort as the tribal communities, particularly the ancestral pueblo. But it also has affiliation with other leader tribes such as the Navajo ute, as well as the Hickory Apache. And so this this site is really a spiritual place for them, because of the pinnacles, the companion rock and Chimney Rock.

National monuments are areas that are protected because they are or contain objects of historical, cultural and or scientific interest. Chimney Rock has all three. Built about 7000 feet above sea level, Chimney Rock features a great Kiva pit house and multi-family dwellings among the 200 buildings at the site. It is thought the site was constructed due to the rare celestial occurrence called the major lunar standstill. Every 18.6 years, the moon will rise from the same place on the horizon and in the case of Chimney Rock, that same spot is between the two iconic natural pillars on the site. Carbon dating shows the construction of the buildings began around the time of a major lunar standstill.

Initially, the significance of the site was recognized on the High Mesa. What you see behind me here. And so there is a large structures there. Pueblo and ancient pueblo and structures, great kivas and community there that existed for over 100 years with a dense population. Folks living up there, it's high. There's no water up there. So just the fact that they were up, there were a lot of logistical issues that anybody living up there would have to deal with. But also being up there is an incredible view all around.

Because Chimney Rock only became a national monument 10 years ago, it is uniquely run through a partnership with San Juan National Forest. Chimney Rock was listed on the National Historic Register in 1970 and at the time was placed under the jurisdiction of the San Juan National Forest, where it remains now.

The can't be understated how important this site is from the story of the Pueblos and the story of the other tribes that are affiliated with this site and our job as stewards of this site. Our jobs from the Forest Service are to really protect that cultural heritage that's there and also tell people why that's important.

To mark the anniversary, Chimney Rock closed Friday, September 23rd for local tribes to honor the designation. On September 24th, Chimney Rock held a free admission day and ran regular shuttles from the new visitor center to the beginning of the hike to the Great Kiva. Family friendly activities designed to teach about the ancestral Puebloins and their way of life were run by volunteers. Every hour, there were dance performances from different groups, and food and art vendors were set up for visitors. From the Great Kiva, it is easy to see why this site stood out for the ancestral Pueblo twins and why it still holds a place of significance for the tribes descended from them.

It's still important to modern day Pueblo and groups because this is their ancestry. Even though they've moved, the people have moved to live in somewhere else. So their spirits are still here. And it's a very important place. And so when one of the things in why this monument is preserved is for that continuity in preservation, as those important resources.

Chimney Rock is only opened May 15th through September 30th. The narrow trails and high elevation make it challenging to navigate during the winter months. To learn more about Chimney Rock and to plan your trip, visit its Web site at chimneyrockseo.org. Thank you for watching this edition of the local news network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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