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Detailed map of Mesa Verde National Park and environs, which likely accompanied the Annual Report of the Superintendent of Mesa Verde National Park.

Detailed topographical map, which includes the Southern Ute Indian Reservation, Montezuma Valley, etc. A large section of the park is still labeled as unsurveyed.

The map is perhaps most interesting for its location of early ruins and other archaelogical sites, some of which are named, but others are simply located with symbols, especially along the Rio Mancos, Navaho Canyon, and Wetherills Mesa, which are located just outside the park, in the 5 mile boundary limit identified as "Five mile limit defining jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Interior over pre-historic ruins. The map key identifies:

  • Major Trails
  • Important Pueblo Ruins
  • Pueblo like cliff dwellings
  • Tower
  • Boulder Site
  • Pictograph locations

One of the first maps of Mesa Verde National Park.

Mesa Verde National Park was created in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt to protect some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the world, or as he said, "preserve the works of man". The area in and around Mesa Verde had been home to the Utes. Mexican-Spanish missionaries and explorers Francisco Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, seeking a route from Santa Fe to California, faithfully recorded their travels in 1776. They reached the Mesa Verde region, which they named after its high, tree-covered plateaus, but they never got close enough, or into the needed angle, to see the ancient stone villages. They were the first white men to travel the route through much of the Colorado Plateau into Utah and back through Arizona to New Mexico.

In 1868, a treaty between the United States government and the Ute tribe recognized Ute ownership of Colorado land by identifying land west of the Continental Divide as Ute land. After there had become an interest in land in western Colorado, a new treaty in 1873 left the Ute with a strip of land in southwestern Colorado between the border with New Mexico and 15 miles north. Most of Mesa Verde lies within this strip of land. The Ute wintered in the warm, deep canyons and found sanctuary there and the high plateaus of Mesa Verde. Believing the cliff dwellings to be sacred ancestral sites, they did not live in the ancient dwellings.