Ancient ruins in the Cañon de Chelle, N.M. In a niche 50 feet above present Cañon bed
Descriptive legend of view no. 11: Throughout the length of the Cañon de Chelle, N.M., ancient ruins of the best type are scattered. These are often situated high above the stream in natural cavities in the wall, which, by their seclusion, afford shelter from the storm, and, by their altitude, give security against the enemy. Some of these cave castles have been found at a height of 400 feet above the river-bed, with no evidence of the means employed to ascend to these fastnesses. Probably they are the remains of a semi-civilization similar to that of the Pueblo Indians of the present day. The Navajoes, who inhabit this valley now, have no history or traditions of their predecessors, but look with superstitions upon these broken walls, and are loth to enter their gates, even for an hour of shelter, for they foretell death to him who shall cross these mysterious thresholds. The accompanying photograph shows the remarkable Casa Blanca or "White House," which is built 50 feet above the valley. Beneath it, by the river-bed, are other houses whose people were probably wont to retire by ladders to this high fortress in times of danger. The Casa Blanca is two or three stories high, 250 feet long by 150 feet deep, and would accommodate many families. It is built of soft stone split but not dressed, united by a mortar of mud, forming a smooth wall, to whose external surface has been applied a very durable white plaster or wash, the composition of which is not known. The over-hanging rock is here about 800 feet high, and, as will be noticed, is strikingly furrowed longitudinally by the action of the driving storm, and vertically by the dripping from above.
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[Washington, D.C.] :
War Dept., Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army
Title from item.
On item: War Department, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army. Geographical Explorations and Surveys. West of the 100th Meridian. Expedition of 1873. Under Command of Lieut. Geo. M. Wheeler, Corps of Engrs.
Plate number: No. 11