Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law Charles Mason rode out on what is now Sun Point in search of lost cattle 124 years ago today (1888) and found Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde. That afternoon, Richard found Spruce Tree House, and the next day, the two men discovered Square Tower House. Al Wetherill, Richard’s brother, saw Cliff Palace sometime the year before, but he did not enter the dwelling, so the credit for “discovering” the dwelling has been given to Richard Wetherill and Charles Mason.
In 1901, Richard Wetherill homesteaded land that included Pueblo Bonito, Pueblo Del Arroyo, and Chetro Ketl in what is now Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Wetherill remained in Chaco Canyon, homesteading and operating a trading post at Pueblo Bonito until his murder in 1910. Chiishch’ilin Biy, charged with the murder, served time in prison, but was released in 1914 due to poor health. Wetherill is buried in the small cemetery west of Pueblo Bonito.
NewMexiKen took the photo of Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park in 2006 and that of the Richard Wetherell [sic] grave marker at Chaco Culture National Historical Park in 2003. Click images for larger versions.