Talk: Handwriting on the Wall

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Friday, September 20th

Event Summary

There’s more to Aztec Ruins’ history than meets the eye – at least when looking at eye level. Visitors must look up at the site’s 900-year-old ceilings to see the hundreds of inscriptions, including signatures and pictures, left from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Historian Fred Blackburn will give a free talk on Friday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. about his ongoing survey and research of historical graffiti at Aztec Ruins. The lecture called “Handwriting on the Wall” will be in the visitor center theater. Gates will open at 6:30 p.m. to the first 60 people.

Blackburn will discuss the interesting inscriptions found so far, which he has traced to early settlers, explorers and Native communities of The Four Corners. Quite a few names belong to families that still live in Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington.

Blackburn is hoping that some audience members may even recognize their family name on the beams and can help expand his knowledge of Aztec Ruins’ more recent history by sharing memories and historic photographs.

He said names first began to appear on the wooden beams in the latter part of the 1870’s. Some people carved their names while others used quill pens and ink or lead pencils to essentially write, “I was here.”
Born in the miners’ hospital in Telluride, Colorado, Blackburn is a fourth generation Coloradan. His is a historian, guide and the author of “The Wetherills: Friends of Mesa Verde” and coauthor of “Cowboys & Cave Dwellers: Basketmaker Archaeology in Utah's Grand Gulch.” He researchers and writes about archaeological and historical expeditions in the Four Corners region.
For more information go to, call 505-334-6174 x0 or email

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About Aztec Ruins. Aztec Ruins National Monument is home to a 900-year old ancestral Pueblo Great House of over 400 masonry rooms.

Price: free

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Aztec Ruins National Monument
Ruins Rd.

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The event runs from 7:00pm to 8:00pm on the following dates.
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