Hanging Canal Slide Show

Hanging Canal Slide Show

Loading Social Plug-ins...
Language: English
Save to myLibrary Download PDF
Go to Page # Page of 34

Description: A companion slide show and additional images for a previous WeSRCH paper. This will be also be presented "live" as a Discovery Park lecture Saturday September 25th at 6:30 PM.

Author: Don Lancaster (Fellow) | Visits: 2036 | Page Views: 2347
Domain:  High Tech Category: Business Subcategory: Engineering History 
Upload Date:
Short URL: https://www.wesrch.com/electronics/pdfEL1GP9MH3RDLW

px *        px *

* Default width and height in pixels. Change it to your required dimensions.

Prehistoric Hanging Canals of the Safford Basin

By Don Lancaster and Synergetics


The Gila Valley has a rich prehistory...

Especially during the Late Classic period around 1350 CE.
Studied by

Neely and others.

Population likely as high as today. Some ties to

Hohokam, Mimbres, Salado, Sinagua and Anasazi cultures.

Gila River lowland canals as extensive as

today and the basis for modern irrigation.
Thousands of world class agriculture


possibly used for Agave crops...

Lesser known are the "hanging" canals...

Literally "hung" on steep sided mesa edges. As high as 90 feet above base terrain! Eight or more total at least 18 miles. Create the illusion of "water flowing uphill". May include above ground aquaducts, route

switching, and flood breakaways.
Used mostly for long range water delivery. Nearly totally exploit Mt Graham streams. Typically a yard wide by a foot deep.

Three terms you need to know...

BAJADA -- A coalescing alluvial fan.

The latest geological period. MESA -- A remnant Quaternary bajada.

Some properties of local southern mesas...

Typically narrow and long. Steep sided. Gently sloped. Limited rainfall. Largely infertile. Pretty much water impermeable. Not too useful to pioneers or present. Easily conveys water long distances.

The hanging canals might be named...

Ledford Marijilda Rincon Deadman Robinson Allen Jernigan Lefthand

Ledford Hanging Canal...

Southernmost of the known hanging canals. Sources near Jacobson Canyon dam. Rather difficult to access and explore. Switches between several drainages. Sees current use for cattle tanks. About three miles total extent. Associated with prehistoric fields. Parasitic vegetation makes reach obvious

when viewed from highway US 191.

Marijilda Hanging Canal...
Earliest to be studied and researched. Runs from Marijilda Creek to fields found

in the Lebanon area.
Initial reach rebuilt by historic pioneers

and sees active irrigation use to this day.
Easiest access of the known hanging canals.

but western 4WD track is extremely rough.
Includes impressive above ground aquaduct. Hangs on the western mesa face. Apparent switching to several destinations. Elaborate French Drains going off mesa.

Rincon Hanging Canal...
Related to the Marijilda hanging canal. Makes a distinct "U" turn and actually heads

back UP canyon.
Portions are single walled and quite wide. Directly associated with grids, mulch rings,

fields, and field houses.
A section has been run over by the Safford

water tank project.
Eventually drops off mesa to serve more

northern fields.
Contours obvious on satellite images...

Deadman Hanging Canal...
Sources from Deadman creek and delivers

to Porter Springs and Deadman tanks.
Initial hanging portion believed overlain

by historic and modern pipeline.
Prehistoric portion flows to this day. Consistently routes along HIGHEST portion

of Deadman Mesa.
Possible elaborate three way switching at

the narrowest point of mesa.
Could approach five miles in length if the

presumed extensions are verified.

Robinson Hanging Canal...

Rebuilt by historic pioneer to serve

cattle tanks in the Daley Estates area.
Three-way switching in Frey creek selects

original route, Sheep Tank, or mesa top.
Short section spectacularly failed by falling

off the mesa edge.
Prehistoric fields overlain by sheet flooding. Very strong "water flows uphill" illusion. Mesa top used for water transport only. Accessible only by ill defined cattle trail.

Allen Hanging Canal...
Nearly SEVEN MILES long! Source believed Spring Canyon. May

go as far as Central bottomlands.
Apparently overlain by

CCC Hawk Hollow

tank, Allen Dam, and West Layton Road.
Two distinct architectural styles. Deepest long known cut of seven feet. Portions obscured by sheet flooding. Comes within 800 feet of Jernigan Canal,

but relationship remains uncertain.
Many questions remain unanswered.

Jernigan Hanging Canal...

Part of a well studied and reported site. "U" shaped canal a quarter mile in length. A "local" that routed water between fields. Maximum hanging height "only" twenty feet. One fairly impressive cut of three foot depth. Well defined exit French Drain area. Original water source not yet clear. Possibly

obscured by sheet flooding.

Lefthand Hanging Canal...

Extensively studied and reported by


Directly associated with plant nursery areas. Elaborate switching and control structures. Short "local" and direct agricultural uses. No "hanging" evidence but similarities to the

other area prehistoric canals are remarkable.
Small gates divert controlled water amounts. Both earthern and rock bordered examples

present. Possible instances of clay lining.

Other possibilities yet unexplored...
Veech Canyon in the "P" Ranch area. A few

rumors of historic and prehistoric canals.
Ash Creek. Some prehistory may lie beneath

the Cluff Ranch Wildlife area.
The Mud Springs bajada is one of the largest

on Mount Graham. Possible Ash Creek feed.
Shingle Mill Canyon is largely unverified.

Home of the historic Tramway .
Carter and Nuttal canyons could possibly

provide western extensions.
Unchecked but known prehistoric areas near

junction of Marijilda and Stockman washes.

Why the obsession with mesa hanging?

Slope is INDEPENDENT of terrain! Minimum cuts and fills. One canal side is often "free". Superbly energy and effort efficient. Easy repairs from flood damage. Mesa top slopes often optimum. Not much other use for mesa tops. Conveys water long distances.

Arguments the canals are prehistoric...

Archaeologists say so. Run over by newer roads, tanks, fences,

and even dams. Without accomodation.
Consistent "desert varnish" patina. Lack of any apparent use of pioneer tools. Prehistoric population very much higher. Easier to "dig out an old ditch". Far more attuned to prehistoric needs. Lack of characteristic

CCC signatures.

Large cacti growing midstream.

Hanging canals ARE endangered...

There are typically zero to very few canal artifacts, so pothunting issues are by no means severe. BUT...
An utter lack of public awareness clearly

causes damage through neglect.
Water projects by the Town of Safford totally

trashed a number of canal crossings, mulch rings, grids, and even a CCC dam. All these could have been cheaply avoided.
New proposed

realignment of US70 to the

south may threaten many of the canals.
The state lands bureaucracy is exceptionally

hostile to archaeological research.

What needs done now...

Map and catalog all southern features.

Videotape all hanging canal routes. Resolve the Allen Canal enigmas. Find a credible Jernigan canal source. Involve students and interested others. Explore other candidate water sources. Publish both traditionally and

new media.

Make upcoming threats aware of the issues. Use "field mice" to thoroughly explore. Scam a

Draganfly grant...

This has been an excerpt of...

http://www.tinaja.com/glib/hangcan1.pdf Presented by Don Lancaster and Synergetics, 3860 West First Street, Box 809, Thatcher, Arizona, 85552. (928) 428-4073. mailto:don@tinaja.com More info on Gila Valley prehistory can be found at http://www.tinaja.com/glib/neely1.pdf

Copyright c 2010 and earlier by Don Lancaster and Synergetics. Linking usually welcome. All media, web, and ALL other rights fully reserved. Mirroring or reposting is expressly forbidden.