Montezuma Well: Very Sacred Waters
The Mystical and Magical Water of Montezuma Well
The dry hot air, it seems, makes everything smell like sun-baked dirt. Many have talked about the Arizona sun being relentless, rebounding from any surface it can baking anything in its path. In the region, the shade is thin and hard to come by. Water just doesn’t seem possible here which makes the Montezuma Well a true oddity. The Well measures 386 feet (118 m) in diameter from rim to rim and contains a near-constant volume of spring water even in times of severe drought. The water oddly enough is highly carbonated and contains high levels of arsenic. Remarkably despite the high levels of arsenic at least five endemic species are found exclusively in Montezuma Well making this just a few reasons why this place is indeed unlike anywhere else in the world.
The ruins of several prehistoric dwellings are scattered in and around the rim of the Well. There various structures at the location including a “pithouse” constructed in the traditional Hohokam style which researchers report dates to around 1050 CE. There’s also an estimated 50 countable “rooms” around the well that was most likely used for purposes other than living space, including food storage and religious ceremonies.
The Water Mysteriously Disappears Underground then Reappears
The high concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide gas in the water of the Well (which amounts to more than 80 times the typical freshwater concentration), and to a lesser extent its alkalinity, has prevented the development of any kind of fish population, so the Well remains a fishless spring. Cracks and crannies are abundant in the well-allowing groundwater to travel quite efficiently from the pond until it vanishes into a swallet, an outlet in the thick travertine walls allowing an amazing 1.5 million gallons of water to travel through daily. The constant supply of warm, 74-degree water was the life-blood of the people who made their home here. This water enters a “swallet” near the end of the trail into the Well and flows through over 150 feet of limestone before re-emerging from the outlet into an irrigation ditch on the other side. From there the water is channeled through a series of ancient canals to its well planned out destination of providing water in areas perfect for planting crops.
Prehistoric Irrigation Canal
Montezuma Well’s steady outflow of life-giving water has been reportedly used for irrigation since the 8th century. Part of a prehistoric canal is preserved near the park’s picnic ground, and portions of the canal’s original route are remarkably still in use today. When taking a close look at Montezuma Well it becomes very clear the people who lived in the region were much more advanced then modern civilization gives them credit for. In fact the prehistoric canal they built using rock to channel the water from the well into areas where they could irrigate crops shows a considerable amount of forethought and knowledge. Farmers in the area today don’t have a rock-walled lining in their irrigation canals to prevent soil erosion... In some ways, you could say the prehistoric farmers of the past were more thoughtful and advanced than those farming in the Verde Valley region today.
The Mysterious False Bottom
It was Capt. Warren Day of Fort Verde who has been recorded as the first person to officially explore the unusual surroundings and depths of the well built amidst the remains of a lost civilization as well as call the well “bottomless” after performing a few experiments from a raft.
Looking back one can’t but wonder why someone would go to any length at all back in the late 1800’s to verify the depths of any body of water little lone explore one possible known for being bottomless unless of course a person was perhaps following up on some of the local legends or led about the well being the gateway to “Other Worlds.” (There are still places on earth today all over and even more back in the late 1800’s of which the depths are not known but for some reason, someone wanted to know the depths of this unique world.)
It wasn’t until sometime in 1948, just shortly after Montezuma Well became a National Monument that a person actually had the interest and courage to dive into the mysterious abyss to have a look around. The report of diver H.J. Charbonneau seemed to verify a conclusion drawn by the famous newspaper reporter and adventurer, Charles Lummis, some 60 years earlier, that the well was a “creepy place.” Upon surfacing, Charbonneau reported the bottom was at 55 feet and composed of fine silt. He also noted the pond was thick with leeches from about 30 feet on down. And according to a report from the park’s custodian at the time, Charbonneau also said: “he stepped on something soft, slimy and large, which caused him concern.”
Probably the most fascinating part of the well is the fact it has a “False bottom!” Making the mysterious waters even more enigmatic is the fact the American Indians who lived in the region reported the Well as “Bottomless” long before any dives were conducted verifying this legend. The well may look somewhat shallow, as it’s only covering the bottom of the sinkhole, but it’s actually quite deep. There’s a false bottom at 55 feet, formed from suspended, fluidized sand. The actual solid bottom varies: at the west spring, it’s 124 feet down, while at the east it’s only 74 feet below the pond’s surface. The water is typically between 70-80° F, which makes for an ideal swimming temperature in this hot climate.
G.J. Murray became the first diver to report that the mysterious bottom was perhaps not the bottom in 1962. Murray reported of the eeriness of swimming “in a ‘bottomless pit’ with thousands of free swimming leeches” and labeled it a bottomless pit after observing that the bottom of the well appeared as “an irregular boiling surface, like that of thin mush cooking.” Numerous other divers have taken place since most of which also reported the very strange layer of what appears to be sandy sediments, describing the “false bottom” as “quicksand” or even “boiling oatmeal.”
There is a short documentary done by the Verde Valley Vortex (listed below) which makes a few connections between what the local tribal elders have to say and the legends surrounding this one of a kind place. In the video, an Apache Elder named Vincent Randal specifically calls the Well a very “sacred holy place” as it has always been known among the American Indian tribes who have lived in the area before any settlers arrived.
The false bottom is indeed freaky giving some additional mysterious depth to the Well. Of all the mysterious places in the Verde Valley, the Montezuma Well has to be the most fascinating since it is a physical reality with depths unlike anywhere else in the world. The fact the Native American Indians knew and spoke of the place as being the home of a god featured in another segment in this series called “Legend of the Plumber Serpent” long before any dives or other tests were done to determine the false bottom is astonishing! It gives some credit to the people who lived in ancient times who showed there knowledge was correct and insightful before science could even dream to prove it.
Lastly, other religions in the Middle East believe powerful beings are bound in the earth specifically within “Wells” where they await an appointed time to be released. The fact there are beliefs in Islam through prophecies which state there are subterranean personalities that will emerge from a “Well” who one of their leading personalities went down into centuries ago and is scheduled to come back up through the same well to lead an Islamic revolution to victory at a certain time in the future gives some credit the legends found here in the Verde Valley at Montezuma Well.
The idea that such a being could live in and come up out of the well is biblical in scope since the bible itself speaks of these gateways existing on earth. Indeed the Montezuma Well is the Verde Valley’s most legendary vortex and gateway for you can truly see its swirling motion in reality!
NOTE: This information has been taken from a chapter in the book the Sedona/Verde Valley Vortex and or will be added on the next update.
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