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Identification:

Preferred Structure Name:
Prehistoric Irrigation Canals
Structure Number:
AZ O:5:94
Other Structure Name(s):
 
Other Structure Name(s)
No records.
Park:
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Historic District:
 
Historic District
1. 
Montezuma Castle National Monument Well Unit
Structure State:
Arizona
Structure County:
Yavapai
Region:
Intermountain
Cluster:
Southwest
Administrative Unit:
Montezuma Castle National Monument
LCS ID:
058586
 
Historical Significance:

National Register Status:
Determined Eligible - SHPO
National Register Date:
05/02/2006
National Historic Landmark?:
No
Significance Level:
National
Short Significance Description:
Determined eligible by AZ SHPO on 05/02/2006 at the national level under National Register Criteria C & D. The period of significance is 900-1956 AD. This system of canals made agriculture possible in harsh environment, contributing to prehistoric development of the Verde Valley.
Long Significance Description:
Prehistoric Irrigation Canals of the Montezuma Well Unit of Montezuma Castle National Monument were determined eligible by the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office on May 2, 2006 at the national level under National Register Criterion C for it embodies the characteristics of a type and period and under Criterion D because it has yielded, and is likely to yield further, information important in prehistory. The period of significance is 900-1956 AD.

The canals at Montezuma Well are unique in the American southwest, and are a wonderfully preserved example of a small scale canal network. The canals tapped into an inexhaustible water supply, the Well, producing more than 1.5 million gallons of water per day. For the most part the canal network is complete. The observable traces of the travertine canals can be followed for over 3000 meters. Although some of the prehistoric fabric of the canals have been destroyed, a considerable number of segments are intact. Evidence of intact features within the canals and prehistoric/historic modifications to the canals have been preserved. The main canal can be traced from the water source to more that 2400 meters away. Along the way two or perhaps three distribution canals diverged from the main canal; the longest and best preserved of these is within the park boundaries. These canals would have carried water to the lateral canals that are no longer apparent at Montezuma Well, the only real part of the canal network missing.

The system of canals made agriculture possible in harsh environment, contributing to prehistoric development of Verde Valley. They are attributed to the result of Hohokam migration or contact with the Southern Sinagua.
 
Construction Period:

Construction Period:
Prehistoric
Chronology:
 
Physical Event
Begin Year
Begin Year AD/BC
End Year
End Year AD/BC
Designer
Designer Occupation
1. 
Built
900
AD
1400
AD
Camp Verde, Honanki - Tuzigoot
Other
2. 
Altered
1870
AD
1888
AD
Early Settlers
Other
3. 
Stabilized
2006
AD
2006
AD
NPS
Other
 
Function and Use:

Primary Historic Function:
Irrigation Facility
Primary Current Use:
Irrigation Facility
Other Functions or Uses:
 
Other Function(s) or Use(s)
Historic or Current
1. 
Exhibit
Current
2. 
Ruin
Current
3. 
Ruin
Historic
 
Physical Description:

Structure Type:
Marine/Waterway
Volume:
20,000 - 2,000,000 cubic feet
Square Feet:
8000
Material(s):
 
Structural Component(s)
Material(s)
1. 
Other
Stone
2. 
Other
Earth
Short Physical Description:
Begins at well, runs westward w/ travertine deposits visible as 2 parallel lines 1 meter apart or as a meter-wide ribbon. Follows the path of the modern irrigation ditch for about 150m from the well. Interpreted section is near the road and picnic area.
Long Physical Description:
The prehistoric canals begin at the outlet from Montezuma Well and runs in a westward direction. The prehistoric canals are most visible today at the interpreted segments east of the picnic area, west of the road near the western entrance and west of the road in the privately owned fields north of the Monument. The travertine deposit that built up along the interior of the canal is a hard, yellow concretion that stands out form the surrounding soil. Sometimes the deposit is seen as two parallel lines a meter apart and other times it is a solid meter-wide ribbon. The prehistoric canals apparently followed the course from the outlet identical to or at least very close to the modern canal for the first 150m. Today this stretch of the canal is reinforced with modern stone dikes in several places were it is not visible to the visiting public.