Free ‘Brown Bag’ talk on prehistoric Mount Graham bajada ‘Hanging Canals’ at BLM on Thursday

A free “Brown Bag” talk will discuss prehistoric “Hanging Canals” of Mount Graham. This picture showed an aproned check dam, which is a common feature of the area.

Contributed Article

SAFFORD – On Thursday, April 4, local author and researcher Don Lancaster will present his and Dr. Jim Neely’s latest updates to a recently discovered spectacular series of prehistoric Mount Graham bajada “Hanging Canals.”

The event will be held at the Bureau of Land Management office at the intersection fo 8th Street and 14th Avenue, starting at 12 p.m.

There are now more than 100 canal study areas dating from C.E. 1350 that have a combined total length of more than 150 miles and now seem to surround Mount Graham.

Many of these canals were literally “hung” on the sheer edges of remnant bajada mesas. A bajada consists of a whole fan-shaped mass of water transported material. Hanging made their slope largely independent of local terrain and thus represented highly unique and unprecedented Stone Age engineering. This feature meant that the builders could construct across, rather than along the canal route for vastly improved labor efficiency.

The canals seem to have exploited every reasonable drop of Piñaleno and artesian water. At least 250 person-years of labor went into their construction. The hanging canals are liely unknown elsewhere in the American Southwest, although some unrelated historic “Levada” examples dating from the 1400s are present in the Portuguese Canary Islands. The talk can be previewed here and a preprint of the latest brand new Journal of Field Archaeology 44-1 paper can be found here. One of this paper’s authors can be contacted via email at or by calling (928) 428-4073.

Bring your own lunch and drinks and join us for this fascinating talk!