Cosnino Caves

Cosnino Caves

To the left is Harold Colton’s plan of the “Turkey Tanks Caves” from his 1946 book The Sinagua.  Colton counted 21 caves in the side of the lava wall.  John Sherburne of the Railroad Survey says there were 30 or more.  May Humphreys Stacy claims (erroneously, I think) that Whipple reported there were around a thousand caves here.

I was surprised to discover that the caves had been covered with a pile of large rocks from the construction of the Leupp Road (Indian Reservation Route 15), which runs immediately above the caves.  The Cosnino Caves are located at Turkey Tanks, which is about 5 miles north of Winona on the Leupp Road.  Here’s what the site looks like today:

In the photo at right  the roof of the upper tier of caves can be seen as a dark horizontal rent near the top of the pile of rocks.  You can look into some of the upper caves but the lower tier is completely buried.  Below is a picture of a nearby cave that was not covered by debris.  You can see the plastered walls inside and the rock wall across the front.  There are also small cubby-holes in the wall for storage.  I wonder if they might have laid poles from the top of the lava to the rock wall to make a roof (that’s what I would do).  By the way, no pottery remains in the area.

Turkey Tanks was an important stop on the Beale Wagon Road and even had a post office for a short time during the construction of the railroad in the early 1880s.  After the railroad began operations travel on the wagon road dropped sharply and, like many other important sites, this one has almost faded into oblivion.

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