White House Ruin, Cañon de Chelly


From Merrill's sketchbook, 1977:

" Between arrivals and departures of tour groups we swatted mosquitoes and marveled at the light cascading down the 600ft. sandstone wall above the ruin. 800 years ago the canyon would have echoed with people sounds, too. Not tourist truckloads arriving, but maybe hunters returning from an early morning hunt. Children would have played and dog barking sounds would have swelled the narrow canyon with noises even louder than today's carefully guided sightseers make.

The longer I studied the ruin, the more I was impressed by a culture who had so perfectly exploited the small cave for a village site. Judging from an 1870's photo by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, the ground level ruin at that time was twice as large as what survives. Why did the Anasazi leave the canyon? Too many mosquitoes."

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© 2017 all images Merrill Mahaffey

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