In 1938 and 1939 the Logan Museum conducted field work at the Wheatley Ridge Ruin, 4 miles west of Reserve, New Mexico. Over these two seasons, 9 pitrooms and one surface pueblo were uncovered. The pitrooms were irregularly situated about the site, while the surface room was located at some distance from the rest. Fourteen burials were unearthed, four being definitely associated with the pithouses, although the remainder were also dispersed in the area of the pitrooms, away from the surface structure. Only three of these burials contained mortuary offerings. Numerous stone artifacts were recovered, as well as a small number of utensils and jewelry items.
Unfortunately, none of the field notes for the excavations remain in the archives of the Logan Museum, and the only evidence we have for reconstructing the site is the artifacts, the original accession catalog entries, and a preliminary draft of the MA thesis of Chandler Rowe, one of the students involved in the excavation of the site. However, to further complicate matters, Rowe's thesis refers to Houses 1, 1A, 2, 3, 3A, 4, 6, 7, and 8, while the boxes containing the artifacts are labeled 1, 2, 3, 3A, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Rowe also speaks of tree-ring dates for houses 2, 3, 4, and 5, while the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research lists samples for Houses 1, 3A, 4, and 5. At present, it is not possible to reconstruct which artifacts belong to which of Rowe's house designations, let alone determine the layout of the site.
The pithouses at the Wheatley Ridge site were found to be of three distinct types, relating to different phases in the occupation of the site. These correspond with the Georgetown, San Francisco and Three Circle phases of Mogollon culture. Unlike the Starkweather Ruin, where pithouses existed but material remains from this phase were few, the Wheatley Ridge site yielded a multitude of pithouse phase artifacts, and as such serves as a fine compliment to the Starkweather site. The most recent tree-ring dating for Wheatley Ridge places the major construction phase from 850 to 900 AD.
House 7 was apparently a communal room, and its size - 36 feet by 31 feet - suggests that the community was considerably larger than the nine pithouses excavated. It is hoped that an upcoming visit to the site will provide an answer to this tantalizing question.
The surface phase is represented by a single room, identified as a "Pueblo kiva" by Rowe. House 9 was located some distance from the pithouses, and as it was both culturally and geographically distinct from the rest, it was not treated in Rowe's paper. However, it was quite evident in sifting through the artifacts that at least one and possibly two of the pithouses were used as refuse dumps during the surface phase, as these contained "intrusive" sherds which were no doubt discarded by the later inhabitants of the site.
Until the preparation of this component of the Logan Museum web site, the early pottery types of the Mogollon had not been well represented. The 'rediscovery' of the Wheatley Ridge artifacts has filled this void admirably, and has shed considerable light on the ceramic complex of the Three Circle phase. Apart from several of the Alma series of plainwares, Three Circle Neck corrugated was well represented. San Francisco Red was also prevalent. Of the painted types, Mogollon Red-on-Brown, Three Circle Red-on-White and Boldface Black-on-White were found in significant numbers.
I have tried to include as many representative samples of other material remains as possible, to give a more complete picture of what life might have been like at Wheatley Ridge. Tools made of bone, antler and stone are presented, ceramic artifacts other than pottery and ornamental artifacts are also presented. In total, they present a fairly complete material complex from the Three Circle phase of Mogollon culture.