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Lowry Pueblo celebrates 50th year with look into mysterious past

Special tours highlight landmark’s mysterious past

Bureau of Land Management volunteers celebrated Lowry Pueblo’s 50th year as a landmark on Saturday by guiding visitors through its distant past.

Lowry Pueblo was built in the 11th century by ancestral Puebloans and is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southwest Colorado. It was designated a national historic landmark in 1967. The anniversary festivities started at 10 a.m. with a presentation by archaeologist Vince MacMillan at the Anasazi Heritage Center, but the main event was a series of free tours through the ruin, which is near Pleasant View.

The Heritage Center was crowded throughout the day, and so were the small shuttles that departed from it in the afternoon to make the bumpy 30-minute trip to Lowry. BLM monument manager Marietta Eaton said about 30 people had signed up in advance for the tour.

“We’re really excited to have such a good showing on a gorgeous fall day like today,” she said.

Although the event was organized by the Heritage Center, members of Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and the Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance had booths at both the Heritage Center and Lowry, where they gave demonstrations on how to use ancestral tools like atlatls. They also handed out sign-up sheets for the Canyon Alliance’s volunteer program.

At the pueblo, MacMillan and longtime BLM volunteer Patricia Lacey pointed out its Chaco Canyon-style architecture and a few things it has taught archaeologists since the site was first excavated in the 1930s. Lacey said the site deviates from the usual Pueblo style in several ways, such a kiva that faces east instead of south. It also features architectural styles from multiple cultures, including the one that influenced the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. She discussed some of the discoveries of Paul Martin, The (Chicago) Field Museum archaeologist who uncovered the site, that have given historians into the lives of the people who built it.

“It was estimated about 50 or 60 people could have lived here,” she said. “What (Martin) saw was that there were bursts of enthusiasm for remodeling, and then there was a little quiescence ... but it all happened in just a little over a generation.”

Visitors on the tour were able to go inside one of the pueblo’s still-enclosed rooms, with a warning not to touch anything, and see the Great Kiva on the south side of the ruin.

For those who didn’t take the trip to Lowry, the Heritage Center also offered guided tours of the nearby Escalante Pueblo and the Wetherill Family exhibit in the museum. Volunteers also provided activities for children throughout the day.

As part of the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Lowry Pueblo is free and open to the public year-round.

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