Tiny Hovenweep National Monument, remote and rural as it is, has a site on the World Wide Web that a Yosemite or a Yellowstone might be jealous of.
The brainchild of John Parmley, an education professor at Kansas State University, "The Towers of Hovenweep" program is cosponsored by the national monument and KSU. The Web site was devised as a resource for teachers and students as much as for cross-country travelers."We get 800 to 900 letters a year," Hovenweep Superintendent Art Hutchinson said, "half of them from schoolkids who say: `Hi, I'm working on a project on archaeology, and would you send me information.' "
Now, instead of printing up education guides, which are difficult to keep up-to-date, the Hovenweep Web site presents all kinds of information, much of it tailored to the needs of students.
"This way they can call it up and have it right then," Hutchinson said. "It's quick and cheap - and more exciting in a lot of ways."
Over 4,000 browsers tapped into this information source in the past year, according to one online count.Parmley, he said, grew up in the Four Corners area, "mostly in Cortez." A specialist in applying new technologies to classroom needs, the educator was looking for ways to make the Internet interesting to children.
Ever-popular dinosaurs seemed one possibility - and so did ancient American archaeology.
Hutchinson said he has been deeply involved in what is essentially a pilot project. The Park Service has administrative control over what goes into the site. KSU graduate students help design and operate the pages, which have already earned such honors as "Site of the Day" on the Web.
With text, photographs and maps, the Web pages outline "The History of Hovenweep," "Sights and Experiences of Hovenweep" and offer "A Visitors Guide to Hovenweep." Those who call up the "Media Center" can, with powerful enough computers, see a short video or hear the superintendent himself talk, in an audio segment, about life in the Southwest a thousand years ago.
"It's just been fun to do," Hutchinson said.
The Hovenweep/Kansas State University site can be found at (www2.educ.ksu.edu/projects/Hovenweep/Hovenhome.html).
Other Hovenweep-related Web pages, many with excellent photographs, include:
- The National Park Service site: (www.nps.gov/hove/)
- The Utah Travel Council site: (www.utah.com/destin/
- The GORP site (Great Outdoor Recreation pages): (www.gorp.com/resource/us(underline)
- The site of the Montezuma County (Colorado) Economic Development Council: (swcolo.org/tourism/hovenweep.html).