A Landing a Day

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Leupp, Arizona

Posted by graywacke on January 27, 2009

This is the first visit for somebody out there, right?  If so, please check out “About Landing,” above.

Dan –  Oh well, back to the WB . . . AZ; 68/61; 5/10; 7; 166.6.  I landed right next to the Little Colorado R (13th hit); on, of course, to the Colorado.  Here’s a map of my landing:


I landed in Cen-N AZ.  (Note that if I say “N-Cen,” it means I’m way up north; if I say “Cen-N,”  it means I’m in the northern part of the central part of the state).  Anyway, the map shows the landing very close to the “town” of Dennehotso.  Well, take a look at the map.  Funny thing, eh?  No roads, not even a trail leading to Dennehotso.  Of course, I Googled Dennehotso, and I got quite a bit of information about a Navajo town – 1700 people, a school, etc.  This didn’t make sense, and it turns out that the real town of Dennehotso AZ is quite a bit to the NE of my landing (and isn’t the “Dennehotso” on my landing map at all.)  So, I guess the bottom line is, I’ll forget Dennehotso for this landing, except for this about the word origin:

The name “Dennehotso” is a Navajo word that means “it is lush green” or “green meadow converging to upper end.”

Here’s a wider view, showing the relationship of my landing to the closest real town, Leupp (pop about 1000), as well as Flagstaff:


Anyway, here’s a beautiful picture from Leupp.  The picture’s caption is printed below:


The San Francisco Peaks viewed from Old Leupp.  This was the view that the Japanese American inmates at the Leupp Isolation Center observed daily during their six-month confinement in 1943.  To the Navajos, the peaks are Doko’oosliid, Abalone Shell Mountain, the Sacred Mountain of the West.

Here’s some more info:

The Leupp Isolation Center, in northeastern Arizona about 30 miles northwest of Winslow, was located at an abandoned Indian boarding school on the Navajo Indian Reservation.  Historical photographs show the boarding school, built in the 1920s, with substantial red sandstone buildings which housed 500 Navajo children.  The school was closed in early 1942, apparently due to its location in the flood plain of the Little Colorado River.   However, the US Government selected this location for the internment of Japanese Americans.  The site was bulldozed after the government was done with it.

Here’s a picture of the boarding school:


And here’s a modern picture of some ruins of the school (that evidently escaped being totally bulldozed):


But, drum roll please, the big story with this landing has to do with a apparently-minor place name on the close-in landing map, above.  Check it out, and you’ll see “Roden Crater” southwest of my landing.  FYI, it’s about 3 miles away. 

Being a geologist, I thought I’d Google it, and see what happens.  Boy was I surprised!  Here’s a write-up from deputy-dog.com:

For the past 30 years or so an astounding renovation has been underway below Roden Crater, a 3 km-wide dormant volcanic cinder cone located northeast of Flagstaff, the brilliance of which probably won’t be apparent until this large-scale artistic endeavor opens when ready, apparently in 2012.

The artist responsible, James Turrell, purchased the crater in 1979.  He studied ‘optics and perceptual psychology’ and is known as a sculptor of light.  Over the years, he has used natural and artificial light to help create his work (many in the form of optical illusions) and challenge people’s perceptions of the world around them.

Many of his pieces involve something called a “skyspace,” essentially a room which has had precisely calculated sections of the ceiling and/or walls removed in order for light to enter the room at a specific angle.

The Roden Crater project is an enormous task which is surely one of the most ambitious art projects ever undertaken.  After years of meticulous planning, Turrell set about sculpting and hollowing the upper parts of the volcano by removing endless tons of earth. He has since filled those spaces with numerous light-filled chambers and a huge 854-ft long concrete tunnel which serves as an entrance from the side of the volcano.

Depending on the location of these chambers and/or the current position of the sun, moon and stars, different light shows will be experienced by the viewer and various astronomical events will be given a truly unique viewpoint.

Here’s a picture of Roden Crater:


And a satellite view of the crater:


Here’s e picture of the project taken from the rim of the crater looking down (from deputy-dog):


Here are other pictures showing some of the various structures:




If this has piqued your interest, I suggest that you Google “Roden Crater.”  There are many, many references, including a NY Times article.  I don’t know about you, but I’m making the trip when it opens.  I wonder what the entry fee will be . . .

One last thing (on a personal note):  On a 1972 Lafayette College geology field trip, I visited Sunset Crater, a National Monument which is not far from (and is similar to) the Roden Crater (about 15 miles from Roden).  Sunset crater was formed about 1000 years ago, and I assume that Roden is of a similar age.  I wonder what the Native Americans thought of this wild volcanic activity? 

Anyway, we climbed to the top (about 1000 vertical feet up loose volcanic cinders), and then we ran all the way back down, screaming like banshees.  The trip down was so much fun – each step included a long slide in the loose cinders.  Guess what?  You can’t do that any more . . .

Here’s a picture of Sunset Crater:




© 2009 A Landing A Day

2 Responses to “Leupp, Arizona”

  1. Big Al Tuna said


    Roden Crater is amazing. Maybe the road trip you’re organizing to Roden should coincide with the 2012 Solstice. I’ll bring all my Mayan friends from Sherwood.


  2. gene bowlds said

    hello the current date is 4/17/2012 from what isurmise much has transpired since the article i happened upon was first published is there an update any ‘new’ pix ,data ,etc would be greatly appreciated wow wow how wonderfula project thanks for the story and pix

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