Historical Archaeological Photographs - Mesa Verde
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Made in Colorado, USA.
This photo shows a car with a 1925 Colorado license plate off the Knife Edge road. On the road, the Buick from the Star Garage in Durango has a National Park Service license plate. Note the teamster standing behind the first man with his wagon and mules ready to pull the car back up on the road. Chains are already secured to the front of the vehicle and lie on the ground between the two men. Click to enlarge Auto Accident on Knife Edge
Thomas McKee, a photographer from Montrose, Colorado, took some of the first photographs of Mesa Verde with an 11x14 camera using glass plates. He described Cliff palace. Click to enlarge Cliff Palace
The lady standing at the cliff edge and bending over to get a better view is believed to be Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. As an architect and interior designer, she spent 46 years designing and decorating buildings using Native American and Ancestral Puebloan architecture as her inspiration. Click to enlarge Cliff Palace.
Accident on the Knife Edge, 1925
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Cliff Palace, 1896
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Cliff Palace
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This tour of Cliff Palace in the 1920s was led by Dr. Jesse Logan Nusbaum (1887-1975). Dr. Nusbaum is to the left of center with a flat-brimmed ranger hat and his hands on his hips. Click to enlarge Cliff Palace.
Led by Richard and Al Wetherill, this 1890s tour of Mesa Verde paused in Spruce Tree House for a photograph. Richard Wetherill (1858-1910) is the mustached man on the right wearing a suit and tie. Al Wetherill (1861-1950) is in the center back. Sitting between Al and Richard is Alice Eastwood. Click to enlarge Mesa Verde's First Tourists
The Ethnologist for the Smithsonian Institution, Dr. Jesse Walter Fewkes (1850-1930), directed the excavation of Far View Ruin in 1916. Prior to excavation, Far View Ruin appeared as a huge rubble mound with trees and bushes growing on it. Notice the team of mules hooked to a sledge for moving rock rubble. Click to enlarge Jesse Walter Fewkes.
Cliff Palace Tour
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Early Tourists to Mesa Verde
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Jesse Walter Fewkes
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In the middle of Spruce Tree House about fifty feet back, Thomas McKee set up his darkroom. Most of the water used for developing was collected from the springs in or near the ruins. With the help of his guide and one assistant, he hiked the canyons searching for ways to approach the ruins and the best locations from which to photograph them. Click to enlarge Spruce Tree House.
Thomas McKee, a photographer from Montrose, photographed Spruce Tree House in 1896. Using glass plates, he set up his darkroom in the back of Spruce Tree House. Click to enlarge Spruce Tree House.
This photograph of Spruce Tree House is from Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter's collection of early photographs of Mesa Verde. The woman on the ladder is believed to be Ms. Colter. Click to enlarge Spruce Tree House.
Spruce Tree House
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Spruce Tree House
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This photograph of Square Tower House was donated to Mesa Verde National Park in 1925 by the J. L. McNeil family. It must have been taken prior to 1919 when Dr. Jesse Walter Fewkes (1850-1930) of the Smithsonian Institution repaired the crumbling tower walls and excavated the ruin.  Click to enlarge Square Tower House.
Thomas M. McKee (1854-1939), a photographer from Montrose, Colorado, visited Mesa Verde to photograph the ruins about 1896. Sterling P. Thomas, the sheriff of Montezuma County, owned a livery barn in Cortez and was his guide. Together they used 12 to 14 mules and horses to carry all of McKee's photographic equipment to the ruins.  Click to enlarge Thomas M. McKee.
A 1929 tourist caravan is preparing to leave the Park Headquarters for a trip to the ruins. Across the road and out of view to the right was an information tent staffed by park rangers. Notice that there is a ranger standing next to each vehicle. Click to enlarge the Tourist Caravan.
Square Tower House
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Thomas M. McKee, 1896
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Tourist Caravan
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This horseback party is on the Spruce Tree Canyon trail. The Spruce Tree House ruin is visible in the background. There was a Pack and Saddle Concession which operated the tours at the time. Click to enlarge the Trail Ride.
This petroglyph panel was photographed in 1908 by Dr. Jesse L. Nusbaum.
The Utes allowed Benjamin K. Wetherill and his sons to use the Mancos River Valley for their cattle. While searching the mesa top for stray cattle in 1888, Richard and Al Wetherill, together with Charles Mason, discovered Cliff Palace. Later that same day, they also found Spruce Tree House. Click to enlarge the Wetherills.
Trail Ride to Spruce Tree House
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Yellow Jacket Petroglyphs
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The Wetherills
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In preparation for the 2006 centennial celebration of Mesa Verde National Park, these photographic images have been selected from the Park archives and restored. Proceeds from the sales of these photographs benefit the Mesa Verde Museum Association centennial fund. Help celebrate Mesa Verde's 100th year as a National Park

These historic photographs are available as notecards or prints. 7Q notecards are printed on glossy card stock. 4S photo notecards have a 4x6 photo matted inside the cardstock. Prints are available in finished sizes of 8x10, 11x14, or 14x18 using sepia-toned photographs. They can be purchased either matted only or framed. Shipping charges are extra. Descriptions from the archives, sometimes including the original photographer's own words, are included with each card.

Find out more about the Mesa Verde Museum Association. See our Limited Editions too.
Cards Price
Matted Photo Notecards 5x7 (Nx-xxxx-4S) $5.95
Historical Archaeological Photos Matted Price Wood Framed Price
8x10 (5x7 print) $20.00  
11x14 (6x9 print) $30.00 $135.00
14x18 (8x12 print) $50.00 $165.00
18x24 (12x18 print) not all photographs are available this size $85.00 $225.00
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