Posted by Dr. Honora Norton
Rotary Club of Scottsdale welcomed Kraig R. Nelson, historian for the accredited and internationally recognized Cave Creek Museum, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Mr. Nelson is one of the co-authors of the Museum’s 2013 book, Images of America - Cave Creek and Carefree. Mr. Nelson has published in America’s oldest western publication, True West Magazine, based in Cave Creek; and, has been honored as “Volunteer of the Year” for the accredited Desert Foothill Land Trust and “Docent of the Year” for the Cave Creek Museum. 
Since 2011, Mr. Nelson has been a member of the Arizona Archaeological Society, which facilitates lectures from some of America’s top archaeologists.  Mr. Nelson has completed advanced coursework for the “Avocational Archaeologist” program. Since 2013, Mr. Nelson has given public tours and private presentations for corporate groups at Taliesin West, in Scottsdale, since 2013. Taliesin West is Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school and is the only National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Arizona. Mr. Nelson is a Booster for the Carefree/Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce and has been writing about local history since 2013, including the history of Cave Creek and Carefree for the yearly Chamber Guide, distributed locally and globally, as well as, the online magazine, A Peek at the Peak (The Peak).
Mr. Nelson noted in his talk and within in a recent The Peak article, that the Hohokam were living in the Cave Creek area about 1,270 years ago, arriving in approximately A.D. 750. In the 1870s, their abandoned canals (“ditches”) were revitalized by early Cave Creek Anglos to nurture thirsty crops. We know the Hohokam were master engineers as demonstrated by the fact approximately 1,000 miles of primary and secondary canals have been identified in the Phoenix Basin. The Hohokam were the only prehistoric cultural group to rely on a canal system, irrigating approximately 110,000 acres. Impressively, sixteen types of crops were cultivated by the ingenious farmers.
Per Mr. Nelson, Abraham Lincoln created the Arizona Territory in 1863, separating the future 48th state from the Territory of New Mexico. Fort Whipple, near what is now Prescott, became the first territorial capital. During his talk, Mr. Nelson shared historical aspects of the State of Arizona:  Tucson was established in 1775; initially Arizona was a confederate territory; Fort McDowell played a major role in development of the Valley of the Sun; Scottsdale was established primarily as an agriculture area in 1894; and many more interesting historical perspectives of the area.  Mr. Nelson suggested that the Valley’s canals, which were initially dug by hand and flow via gravity, would span from Phoenix to South Dakota (over 1,000 miles).   
For more information about the Cave Creek Museum see: