Monday, March 15, 2010

W.A.C.C. Tour

Last Friday we went on the most interesting tour. We were among 19 Casa Grande Ruins volunteers who took a field trip to the Western Archaeological and Conservation Center in Tucson. That is where the National Park Service stores and preserves museum items for NPS facilities in all of the western states.

First we toured the archives. Khaleel explained what kinds of items they keep. Friday they were scanning items from the Little Bighorn National Monument in Montana. It was interesting to us because we spent two months near there last summer. They showed us a muster list for the 7th Cavalry, which had been commanded by General George A. Custer. I know you can't really read it, but this is the actual document, written over 100 years ago.

They also had several photographs. Here you can see General Custer and his staff.

Aren't we a good looking group? Most of us were taking pictures, either with small digital cameras or high-tech cell phones.

After the Archives, we visited the two conservation laboratories. Here is Dana talking about an old basket they were restoring.

Audrey was working on pieces of cotton textile that are over 1,000 years old. Imagine a piece of cloth lasting that long! She takes the small pieces and puts them in high humidity for a while to relax the fibers. Then she can mount them so they can be stored and examined safely.

This is a pot being reassembled. On the table behind it you can see the map that was drawn to show how the pieces should be put together.

I think I was most fascinated or impressed with this item. Yucca fibers were twisted or spun into a cord and then turkey feathers were wrapped around the cord. Eventually the weaving became a blanket--not unlike a modern down-filled coat.

We only have a small museum here at the Ruins and I have often wondered what other artifacts were found here when the place was excavated. We sure don't have much on display. We learned that they have a lot of items from Casa Grande at W.A.C.C. There they have the facilities to safely store them. This is a pottery bowl decorated with red birds.

Kim is the registrar at W.A.C.C. That means she is in charge of keeping track of everything there. She gave our group a tour of the artifact storage area. Here she is explaining this huge basket that was made to store grain.

This is a turquoise-encrusted item. In my tours I tell people the Sonoran Desert dwellers traded with others to obtain items not available here, including turquoise. It was exciting to see what they did with that turquoise.

We were able to see many of the Hohokam artifacts that are kept at the Tucson center. They also have many items from other cultures and more recent times. This is one of many pieces of furniture that was made by the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) in the Southwest.

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