They stood empty for centuries, simple dwellings, small villages, and large complexes in the mesa and canyon country of what is now Southwest Colorado. The forces of weather and geology had taken their toll, but many remained remarkably intact. In the late 19th century they were explored, excavated, and plundered for the pottery, baskets, tools, and even human remains they contained. Establishment of Mesa Verde National Park was their only hope for long-term preservation, but it would be a never-ending challenge. Dirt, Water, Stone is the story of that challenge, from the earliest preservation projects to the lessons still being revealed by the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde today.
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