Throughout my travels, I've been to my fair share of ruins (modest hyperlinking -I know) . . . The Manitou Cliff Dwellings are, however, in a very different class. Click on the link to expand the post and learn of their sordid tale.
Note: This post was slightly reworked on Wed October 14 12:29 am
As a child I was given more then my fair share of compulsory Native American education (Though from what I seem to recall, it's no longer appropriate to refer to them as Native Americans. What are they allowed to be called today? First Nations? Indigenous Peoples? Primordial Denizens?)
As such stories of the Anasazi (which due to a weird mental association - the result of the plethora of cultures I was educated about as a - conjures up images of the West African trickster spider Anansi) piqued my interest in visiting the local ruins. Advertised as the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, offering "an archaeological and natural history preserve", and and "authentic Anasazi cliff dwellings, built more than 700 years ago." Who could refuse - even at the 9 bucks per person entry fee.
Parking in the parking lot - located conveniently only a few feet away from the ruins, we entered the Pueblo Anasazi History Museum and Gift shop.
The museum looked like it had last been updated in 1976, and the gift shop was at least twice the size of the exhibition (and sells John Wayne toilet paper!(?)).
On to the ruins then . . .
Everything looked nice, and with the option to climb through and around the ruins, one could really explore them very closely. It almost seemed odd that in oh so regulated America it was possible to climb up the wall of a 700 year old ruin - I mean even Poland and Lithuania had made the attempt to rope off certain things! But nu, nu . . . who was I to argue with policy.
(A tipi set up to let visitors know that not all Native Americans lived in tipis)
What would you know, then when after the trip I googled the ruins to find out a little more about the site, only to learn that the only thing authentic about the Manitou Cliff Dwellings were the cliffs. That's right - they were a fake!
Apparently in 1906 when the husband of one Mrs. Virginia McClurig wasn't appointed superintendent of the grand (and authentic) Mesa Verde ruins, she built her own in the Springs!
In short, I was in a hundred year old tourist trap!
Now, I don't mind tourist traps per say . . . when they're honest. I mean, I'll shell out my share of money to see the worlds largest ball of wax or whatever . . . but then I know it's fake and can gauge the deal as such. Yet here the wording made everything seem almost fishily real.
Whatever. At least I got to climb inside the Tipi.
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