Mystery of Chaco Canyon is based on real mysteries and real places many of which a traveler can still visit.
Burro Alley where Dona Tules kept her sala is much changed. A sala is a hall, a living room or a room where people meet. It is how an establishment devoted to drinking and gambling would have been described and one ladies of the evening would have found congenial. Burro Alley is only a few steps from the Palace of the Governors and why not since many of the governors spent their evenings here. The story begins on Burro Alley with an 80 year-old man celebrating his birthday with wine, women and gambling. The evening ends in bloodshed and the exposure of rival bands of watchers.
Topper sends Dan, Roque, Dona Loca and Peregrino Rojo in search of a stone and its engraving. The Los Lunas Decalogue Stone was revealed to the world by archaeologist Frank Hibben in the 1930s. He said his guide had been shown the stone by his father in the 1880s. The stone is inscribed with the 10 Commandments in what look like Hebrew letters in a form unknown in the 1930s. Today we know this form dates from about 600 B.C. Nearby are Indian petroglyphs and the name of God inscribed in a rock altar.
This is the beginning of an ancient trail.
Along the way they find more clues at El Morro, the inscription rock with its pool of water. Zuni was visited by Coronado and he named its towns the Seven Cities of Gold although there were only six towns and they were made of mud, not gold.
The trail takes them to Chaco Canyon and its Seven Cities of Gold Colored Stone. They begin to unravel its real mysteries. Why would anyone come here so far from a good supply of water? Why build houses where the vigas, the roof beams, must be brought from 40 miles away? Why were there so many houses so close together? Why so little room for fields and so few burials? Why are there two distinct styles of architecture? Why were so few rooms ever occupied? Why are their so many styles of pottery? And why the stairs and roads that run dead straight with no attempt to avoid obstacles?
Confused by intentionally deceptive signs, the friends head south to Chihuahua, Mexico, and the Casas Grandes, which seems to have a relationship to Chaco Canyon. Chaco Canyon, Aztec Ruins near Farmington, NM, and Casas Grandes all lay on the same meridian. With straight roads pointing north and south, these ruins seem to be tied to Chaco. They are tied in time as well. Chaco was abandoned before Aztec was built and Aztec abandoned before Casas Grandes.
With Casas Grandes as the altar, the friends look to the Southwest as if laid out as a great Masonic lodge. In the Chiricahua Mountains they find the Senior Warden’s jewel carved in the rock of his throne.
Nearby, amongst Mimbres glyphs, they find Chinese characters carved in stone. These characters mean king and the word is repeated three times, the trinity. Other characters at the site mean the Light and the Child. When we recorded these glyphs with an archaeological expedition, they were noted as Indian. I pointed out that they were Chinese and that I could read them, but was not believed. It didn’t fit the theory.
Here is the inscription on the headstone by the entrance to the cave. It is in old English runes typical of the 12th century. This cave has been on America Unearthed. Archaeologists recorded the Hohokam glyphs in 1983 but failed to note this headstone. It was covered in dust. And it didn’t fit the theories, so it was ignored. What brought this Englishman to the Southwest, so close to Coronado’s trail?
North of Tucson the friends unearth strange implements with Latin inscriptions. These are currently on display at the Arizona Historical Museum in Tucson. They have also been on America Unearthed.The inscriptions refer to a Roman kingdom in the southwest around 800 A.D. Could this have been the Seven Cities Coronado sought? Rough Huerch, the Chinese, the great Masonic lodge, these Romans and Coronado all seem to be seeking seven cities at Chaco where the trail now leads.
Problems begin for the friends at the real battle for Tubac, here shown as it might have looked in 1861. It is followed by the Apache attack at Cooke’s Canyon and by two of the adventurers being drafted into the Confederate Army as the Arizona Rangers were.
Clue take them to Chimney Rocks where a ruined temple looks back along a narrow causeway and a straight side points to the rocks like a gun-sight. The gun-sight points to treasure falls near Wolf Creek Pass.