WINSLOW — Wandering across her parents' cattle ranch in the 1950s, Georgia Nagel often found pottery shards, petroglyphs and other remnants of an ancient Anasazi village along the Little Colorado River. Unfortunately for Homolovi Ruins and its treasures, so did a lot of people with less honorable intentions.
One time she spotted a fish painted on a rock wall, a find so interesting that she and her parents drove into town to report it. By the time they returned, someone had tried to pry it off the painting.
“Of course, it fell into pieces,” she said.
That kind of damage was all too common as relic hunters and the curious descended on the site just outside of town with shovels and even backhoes.
“They did so much damage to it,” Nagel said. “And it breaks my heart.”
The problems eased stopped when local leaders and the Hopi Tribe, whose ancestors lived here, rallied for the state to protect the area, which led to Homolovi Ruins State Park opening in 1993.