Goodman Lake: An Ancient Reservoir

Goodman Lake, located in the central Mesa Verde region, is a good example of an ancient Pueblo reservoir. Hundreds of years ago, probably sometime during the Pueblo II period, Pueblo farmers constructed a stone-and-earthen dam downslope from a large expanse of exposed bedrock. Rainwater and melted snow would run off the bedrock and accumulate behind the dam, forming a small "lake" that provided community residents with water for domestic, and possibly agricultural, purposes. Ancient trails leading from nearby Pueblo sites to Goodman Lake are still visible today.

Much later, in historic times, area homesteaders of European descent further enhanced the ancient dam and reservoir. Old-timers recall hauling water from the reservoir to water their livestock and provide for various domestic needs. In fact, through the early part of the twentieth century, Goodman Lake was one of the most relied-on sources of water for the families who lived on nearby homesteads.

Below are several photographs showing Goodman Lake and the ancient trails leading to it.

Goodman Lake, before the monsoon rains. Photo by Greg Hobbs.

Goodman Lake as it appeared on July 21, 2010, before the monsoon rains began.

Goodman Lake, after the monsoon rains. Photo by Kristin Kuckelman; copyright Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.

Goodman Lake as it appeared on September 11, 2010, after the monsoon rains began. There is standing water in the lake, but it is obscured by the tall grasses that have grown in only three weeks.

Ancient trails leading to Goodman Lake. Aerial photo courtesy of the USGS; trails, lake, and site information added by Kristin Kuckelman, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.

Aerial photograph (courtesy of the United States Geological Survey) highlighting ancient trails leading from nearby Pueblo sites to Goodman Lake.