In the heart of Mesa, Ariz. are subtle, Hohokam ruins. The inconspicuous dirt mounds mark a pivotal place for the development of the City of Phoenix.
“I bet most people driving by have no idea what they’re driving by,” said Marshall Shore, Arizona’s Hip Historian.
The unassuming historical site sits in the middle of suburbia, bordered by Banner Health’s corporate office and the All Metro School of Driving.
The site acted as a hub for the Native American Tribe, at the gateway to the Salt River, but not everyone knew that history.
“Kids would come out and ride their bikes over all these great ramps and bumps and hills,” said Shore. “And there were stories about how they would be finding arrowheads and bits of pottery.”
The land changed hands for decades before the City of Mesa purchased it in 1980 from actor Aquanetta, who was known for her B-list movies such as ‘Captive Wild Woman.’
It was renamed Mesa Grande Cultural Park and the City of Mesa opened it up to the public.
“We mostly focus on our educational field trips,” said Alison Stoltman, Curator of Education, Arizona Museum of Natural History. “We have real archaeologists teaching those kiddos.”
“The beauty of that is that there is still so much to be discovered, and I love when you walk into the park you see this big mound and it leads you on this path to discovery,” said Shore.
Discovery spots are set up around the ruins mimicking the types of tools and pottery the Hohokam used to spark a civilization.
“We would not be here if it was not for the Hohokam and the work that they had done,” said Shore. “This was that control center for where the water was handled, managed, dealt out. So this is where it all happened right in this space.”
The Mesa Grande Cultural Park is closed for the summer and reopens in mid-October.