Odd Pueblo: Strange things in the Rillito riverbed

From a giant Paul Bunyan to dozens of giant Magic Carpet statues, Tucson is stocked with pleasingly strange stuff.

But the strange stuff need not be several stories tall to catch our eye. And sometimes it’s more creepy than pleasing.

Since the Rillito River has not held any substantial amount of water in more than a year, eerie things keep piling up in the riverbed.

Like graves.

Mia resting in peace/Ryn Gargulinski

Mia resting in peace/Ryn Gargulinski

We’re guessing Mia was some kind of cat or small person who has miraculously not been dug up by coyotes. Mia’s is not the only gravesite in the riverbed, as a larger grave marked only by a cross but no headstone sits near the entrance to one of the paths. A man was once near it looking sad. There are also things that could be graves but we’re really not sure.

Rillito hut/Ryn Gargulinski

Rillito hut/Ryn Gargulinski

This fine stick hut, which was in better shape but soon repaired after a windstorm, appears to house some kind of dead thing. Either that or it could be a ritualistic shack of some sort, although you’d have to sit pretty low to perform any rituals as the roof is sloped and only about 2 feet high. Eerily, the hut appeared around the same time a homeless person’s camp disappeared.

Rillito living room/Ryn Gargulinski

Rillito living room/Ryn Gargulinski

This cozy camp, which has now become defunct, was in the riverbed for as long as two years. Sometimes there would be a lump shaped like a person nestled inside the sleeping bag while at other times it stood vacant. Graham cracker boxes and tin cans were regularly found strewn near the campsite. Then one day it was simply gone. No more sleeping bag, no more shopping cart and the open area was covered in thick ugly brush as if no one had ever been there.

Rillito Child Crusher/Ryn Gargulinski

Rillito Child Crusher/Ryn Gargulinski

This giant log structure is another puzzle. Also known as the Child Crusher, the structure stands more than 10 feet tall and has fallen apart at least once. The following day it was back in place. The only thing holding it up appears to be hope. My dogs get admonished when they carouse beneath it, as it could be some kind of trap that is just waiting to nab it’s next meal.

Other Rillito riverbed mysteries include small rock formations. Some feature rocks teetering atop each other in ways that defy gravity, others resemble mini Stonehenges, and still others look like fire pits where goats or small children could be sacrificed. We just hope none of the goats or children was named Mia.


This stretch of the Rillito riverbed, between Dodge Boulevard and Swan Road, is also where the homeless dog named River hangs out. River now has a blog in her honor to keep folks posted on the progress of the big-hearted volunteers who are trying to save her. Check out the blog at http://rescuingriver.blogspot.com/



What do you think?

Any theories on the Child Crusher or other Rillito riverbed objects?

Have you seen eerie or mysterious things around town?

Do you ever hide out overnight to help clear up the mystery?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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13 Responses to Odd Pueblo: Strange things in the Rillito riverbed

  1. Jennatoolz says:

    Good Morning Ryn! Those types of things are always fascinating and mysterious! I’m the type of person to check it out, but then continue on my merry way.

    When I was a kid living in Capitan, NM, my siblings and I found this really cool place on the top of a hill. It was pretty much huge boulders piled on top of each other, which created caves and crevices to crawl around in. It was obvious someone else had been there to, since there was a little fire pit in the biggest cave. It was a lot of fun at the time, but looking back, it probably wasn’t the safest place for us kids to be playing. I’ll admit, it was pretty awesome to be able to stand on the very top and look out over our neighborhood. We could see everyone’s house! 😀

    • Rynski says:

      mornin’ jenna!
      i, too, am a big fan of strange, mysterious things. that boulder formation in capitan sounds FABULOUS and a perfect little getaway. unless, as you mentioned, it became dangerous and the boulders decided to fall and crush everyone to death.
      and i thought the child crusher looked hazardous – hahaha.
      i’ll check things out, too, as evidenced by this entry. i don’t think i’ve lost sleep wondering about any of it, but i do like to make up stories behind some of them. i also wonder who has the time and patience to play around with such stuff.

  2. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! Certainly some interesting folks around your neck o’ the woods. Isn’t this the same area that the elusive lost dog now inhabits? You might want to check for variations in the earth’s magnetic field like the Bermuda triangle or possible crystal formations similar to Sedona which every ‘new ager’ worth their salt knows attract aliens. 😉 …or perhaps there is just a loony bin with an open door policy in the vicinity?

    • Rynski says:

      hahah – mornin’ radmax!
      yes, i enjoy these interesting folks’ antics in this neck o’ the woods – and like your theories. the magnetic field is a particularly good one. it also reminds me of tucumcari, n.m., where a good number of folks i met just “ended up” because their cars mysteriously broke down and they didn’t have the money to get them fixed.
      so they ended up living there for the rest of their lives.
      double YES on this being the same area where the dog named river lives.
      the folks who are trying to help her actually set up a blog in her honor – i’ll add an addendum to the riverbed post, but you can also view it HERE.

    • radmax says:

      Oh, and I believe this is where the mysterious lost ‘Chair of Anguish’ mentioned in the apocrypha was discovered, correct me if I’m mistaken…

      • Rynski says:

        ohhhhh, you are right, so right.
        i did not include the ‘chair of anguish’ as i didn’t want people to get TOO freaked out. hahahha.
        i’m gettin’ chills just thinking about it!

  3. Wildfire says:

    I used to live in the sand hills of West Texas. The area of the country I lived in was known for Mexican voodoo rituals. My dogs were constantly dragging animal parts up to the house that had strange markings on them or we would find slaughtered animals in the ditch or blood covered stones… creepy.

    • Rynski says:

      heck ya, that’s creepy, wildfire!
      very creepy. thanks for your input. it makes the rillito stuff look like child’s play!
      i have seen animal parts in the rillito area, but none had strange markings and they looked more like they were ripped apart by coyotes then sacrificed by voodoo-ers.

  4. koreyk says:

    There is a tree in the wash near my house that has been carefully decorated with hundreds of  beer cans hanging from fishing line.  It showed up shortly after Thanksgiving, in the spirit of Christmas no doubt.  We in the neighborhood kind of like it, in spite of having a constant battle with litter in the wash. 

    • Rynski says:

      in some twisted way, that does sound quite festive, koreyk – hahahha.
      it also reminds me of a budweiser beer ornament i saw one christmas. hopefully the trash from the wash is not increasing if people see a beer can tree.

  5. Andrew Ulanowski says:

    hi Ryn,
    I have walked in the wash a time or two behind the house i am living in and there are both a labyrinth and a couple of ‘rooms’ (cleaned up areas in groves of bushes or small trees) down there. I have never seen another person down there. it is a little like being in an alien world . . .
    kind of cool!
    love all of the structures you’ve identified!

    • Rynski says:

      hey andrew – and thanks!
      i also love the alien housing you have by your wash! sometimes just walking through the wash – even if i don’t see anything weird – gives me a sense as if my dogs and i are the only people left on earth. and then the sun goes down, making the sky all pinkish orange and it looks like an alien planet.

  6. Rynski says:

    a man and three kids were by the CHILD CRUSHER this evening, with the three kids toddling and digging all around it. they  must have seen this blog and realized it would be a great place to play.
    i am tickled!

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