Mancos Valley

Mancos Valley (HM1CUM)

Location: Mancos, CO 81328 Montezuma County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 18.268', W 108° 24.619'

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The town of Mancos, in the valley before you, historically served as the "Gateway to Mesa Verde."

As word spread of the Wetherills' "discoveries," tourists flocked to the area. The Rio Grande Southern Railroad, serving Durano, Mancos, and Dolores since 1891, was reliable and the easiest part of the journey to Mesa Verde. The rest of the trip to the cliff dwellings was quite difficult.

Prior to 1914, visitors used the Wetherills' original route from Mancos to Spruce Tree House. The arduous 25-mile trek took an e3ntire day. For the first fifteen miles, visitors traveled by wagon up the canyon to your right. The next ten miles, traveled on foot or on horseback, included a nearly vertical climb to the top of Chapin Mesa. One local guide, Charles B. Kelly, led these expeditions from Mancos as a three-day trip. The cost of the trip (including food, lodging, and horses) was $15.00 per person or $12.50 each for two or more people.

By 1919, automobiles and the newly-graded road behind you cut travel time for the 25-mile trip to three hours. For the first time, travelers could visit a few of the principal archeological sites and return in one-day.

(Left Photo Caption)
John and Al Wetherill in Spruce Tree House. The Wetherill family were Mancos area ranchers who grazed cattle on Mesa Verde. Their explorations were instrumental in the establishment of Mesa Verde as a national park.
— Photo courtesy of National Park Service

(Center Photo Caption)
Passengers arrive in Mancos on the Rio Grande Southern Railroad. Rail travel to southwest Colorado was the most dependable form of transportation prior to 1920.
— Photo courtesy of Denver Public Library-Western History Department

(Upper Right Photo Caption)
Tourists depart for the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde in 1913.
— Photo courtesy of National Park Service

Middle Right Photo Caption)
The Wetherill brothers popularized the cliff dwellings in the 1890s. Their home, the Alamo Ranch, housed an extensive array of artifacts colected from the cliff dwellings.
— Photo courtesy of National Park Service

(Lower Right Photo Caption)
From 1906 to 1920, Mesa Verde National Park headquarters was located in Mancos.
— Photo courtesy of Denver Public Library-Western History Department
Placed ByNational Park Service
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 11th, 2014 at 10:10am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)12S E 729518 N 4131793
Decimal Degrees37.30446667, -108.41031667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 18.268', W 108° 24.619'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 18' 16.08" N, 108° 24' 37.14" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)970
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 220 Mesa Top Ruins Rd, Mancos CO 81328, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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