The WS Ranch Project encompasses the work of the University of Texas Archaeological Field School in west-central New Mexico between 1977 and 1994. Participants got hands-on experience learning the principles of archaeological excavation while working on a site left behind by people from the Mogollon culture. This work resulted in a significant number of artifacts and scientific documentation that have never been available to the public.
The WS Ranch Project encompasses nearly 20 years of archaeological excavation and survey in the Gila National Forest and surrounding areas in west-central New Mexico. Excavations occurred mainly at the WS Ranch site but also included work at nine other locations.
Surveys and test excavation began at the WS Ranch site in 1977 under the guidance of James A. Neely, PhD. Shortly thereafter, surveys and test excavations began at the nearby WS-17 (or HO-Bar) site. Similar test excavations occurred at the WS-5 and WS-41 sites (also known as the McKeen Ranch Site), Eva Faust Site, Devil’s Park, Apache Creek Pueblo, O Block Cave, and the Squirrel Springs Site. Several of these sites—including the WS Ranch site, Eva Faust site, and the McKeen site—are partially located on private land. Volunteers from Earthwatch also participated during the field seasons. The archives contain field research reports, scholarly research, student reports, theses, and dissertations, and other materials.
The archival papers of the project were transferred to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science in December 2017; we began processing the papers shortly thereafter. We began by conducting a survey and inventory of the materials, which measured in excess of 70 linear feet. Minimal culling was done—items removed include blank forms, duplicate and irrelevant materials, and non-annotated maps.
We are currently in the process of cataloging this massive collection. We are organizing the papers chronologically by each subsite name within the project, followed by additional surveying work performed on and around the site. Once complete, this collection of papers will support the work of our colleagues in the Anthropology Department, whose job will be to catalog the thousands of artifacts excavated from the site over the two decades that the field school was active.
To view a current inventory of the papers, click Collection Finding Aid.
Learn more from the Mogollon Fact Sheet.