Chimney Rock, a majestic sandstone pinnacle, rises 300 feet atop a tall sloping mesa that shares the name of this dominant feature. Visible from intersecting highway routes 151 and 160 just west of Pagosa Springs in southwestern Colorado, this stately spike is partnered with its twin pinnacle, Companion Rock. Both stand prominently along the eroded north end of the Chimney Rock mesa and can be seen for miles from almost every direction of the compass, inspiring the imagination of many travelers who pass through this high desert landscape-both now and for centuries past.
It was in those times past that ancestors of the contemporary southwestern Puebloan people intimately linked themselves with Chimney Rock, Companion Rock and the surrounding landscape. From 700 to 1150 AD, ancestral Puebloans lived in the low valleys and elevated mesas of the Chimney Rock area. They established their villages on both the valley floors and along the mesa tops. In addition to these communities, celestial observatories and ritual centers were also built. The Chimney Rock Great House Pueblo, in particular, constructed on the upper mesa just south of the twin pinnacles of Chimney and Companion Rocks offers an intriguing example of a site used for astronomy-based ceremony and ritual. This structure offers clues as to how the ancestral people observed movements of the sun and moon, how this information influenced ritual and ceremony and how it contributed to their calendar year.
The disciples of archaeology and archaeoastronomy (a combination of naked-eye astronomy, archaeology and ancient texts revealing the role of sky-watching in ancient cultures) provide many of the answers to questions about Chimney Rock; yet many intriguing questions remain. The ancestral Chimney Rock settlers’ relationship with the land, the sky ad the dominant culture of Chaco Canyon 9 miles tot he south in present day western New Mexico suggest a place in the past that may have been endowed with the kind of “spiritual magnetism” that is associated with major ceremonial centers around the world.
This is an excerpt taken from Mysterious Chimney Rock: The Land, The Sky, The People