Museum Exhibits

Museum Entrance

Building a Fountain
Founding a Community

Throughout human history desert dwellers have found ways to create an oasis in arid environments. In Arizona's Lower Verde River Valley, developer Robert McCullough envisioned a community surrounding the largest fountain in the world and on December 15, 1970 the Fountain Hills' Fountain was turned on for the first time.

Orientation Room

3 Communities 3 Sources

The Ft McDowell Yavapai Nation, Rio Verdes and Fountain Hills are the three modern communities of the Lower Verde River Valley. Although all three are on the banks of the perennial river they are sustained through a complex system of water rights, with some getting much of their water from the Colorado River transported along the Central Arizona Project.

Specimens of Pottery

Ancient Lower Verde Civilizations

From the canal building Hohokom to the early wikiup shelters of the Yavapai, the past of the Lower Verde River Valley can be read in the pottery and petroglyphs left behind. Discover the locations of ancient sites and explore the recent archaeology of the Lower Verde River Valley.

Geology and Archaeology

Rock hunt along the river
that reversed

Between 5 and 10 million years ago the Colorado Plateau uplifted creating a change in elevation. The change caused the Verde River to reverse direction, as well as exposing rock formations. These formations include the Mountains of the lower Verde River Valley have both spiritual and scientific significance.

Explorers and Trappers

Mining for Minerals

The Lower Verde River Valley is home to two mines. The historic Little Dixie is located in the McDowell Mountain Park accessible by hiking trails. The Four Peaks Amethyst mine is privately owned and is actively mined twice a year.

P-Bar Ranch

Rio Verde Ranching

In the early 1900’s the land west of the Verde River was used for cattle ranching. As rules governing resources changed ranching became less profitable and The Box Bar and P Bar ranches were sold to create the communities of Fountain Hills and Rio Verde.

Roosevelt Dam

What's Salt got to do with it?

The Salt River Project (SRP) is a major supplier of water and electricity for the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. SRP is named after the first project on the Salt River, the Theodore Roosevelt Dam, but SRP is also responsible for dams and lakes on the Verde River.

Explorers and Trappers

What's in Your Water?

The water used by the people of Fountain Hills originates from the Colorado River, but it doesn’t go from the Central Arizona Project directly to homes and business. EPCOR Water buys the water wholesale form SRP and puts it through a six step process.

Fort McDowell (US Army Post)

Fort McDowell (US Army Post)

The establishment of a military fort near the Salinas (Salt) River was authorized on May 21, 1865 by general John S. Mason. The fort was initially named Camp Verde, but a few months later was changed to Camp McDowell in honor of Major General Irvin McDowell, who served under Gen. Winfield Scott in the Civil War.