A Splendid Field Prepared for Us by the Ancient Agriculturists of Cave Valley—House Groups in Caves Along a Pretty Stream—Well-preserved Mummies Found in Caves—More Trincheras—Our Excavations in Caves and Mounds Confirm to the Mormons their Sacred Stories—We Move to the Plains of San Diego—Visit to Casas Grandes and the Watch-tower—Successful Excavations of the Mounds near San Diego.
Finding the locality so inviting for research, I decided to remain here, returning to Pacheco only to despatch the rest of my party to make excavations at the ranch of San Diego, thirty miles to the east, down on the plains of Chihuahua. The ranch was temporarily leased by an American, Mr. Galvin, who received my expedition hospitably, and invited the members to remain as long as they pleased and to make excavations wherever they wanted.
Cave Valley is the widening of a long, low-walled canon through which the Piedras Verdes River flows. As its name implies, it contains many caves in the felsitic conglomerate overlying the region. It is from one-quarter to half a mile wide, and has a fine, rich, loamy soil. The stream is ten to twenty feet wide and from one to three feet deep. Fine forests of pine, oak, cedar, and maple surround it, and make it an ideal dwelling-place for a peaceful, primitive people.
The little knoll on which we were encamped rises on the north side of a brook which empties itself in the river. It was in equally close proximity to the dwellings of the living and the dwellings of the dead.
Up the main stream, on the western wall of the canon, and about a mile from our camp, is a large cave containing the curious cupola-shaped structure already mentioned. The cave is easy of approach up a sloping bank from its south side, and arriving at it we found it quite commodious and snug. It is about eighty feet wide at its mouth, and about a hundred feet deep. In the central part it is almost eighteen feet high, but the roof gradually slopes down in the rear to half that height.
A little village, or cluster of houses, lies at its back and sides. The interior of most of the rooms must have been quite dark, though the light reaches the outside of all the houses. The walls are still standing about six feet high. The compartments, though small, are seldom kennel-like. Some of the houses have shallow cellars. The roof of the cave was thickly smoked over its entire surface. From traces of walls still remaining on it, we may infer that a second story had been built toward the centre of the cave, though this could only have been five feet high. These traces of walls on the roof further prove the important fact that this second story had been built in terrace-fashion, receding about four feet back from the front of the ground story.