During a vacation to Flagstaff, Dr. and Mrs. Harold S. Colton come upon a ruin while horseback riding and name it Sheep Hill Ruin after a nearby cinder cone.
J. Walter Fewkes of the Smithsonian excavates the site for three months, digging through 35 rooms, uncovering some 165 burials, and recovering nearly 2,500 artifacts; he calls it Elden Pueblo after the name of the mountain on whose flank it is located
Upset by removal of the Elden Publo artifacts to the Smithsonian, prominent Flagstaff citizens persuade the Coltons to help found the Museum of Northern Arizona to provide a future home for artifacts and other objects of scientific interest from the region
Fewkes dies without completing his major study on Elden Pueblo; the following year, the artifacts are dispersed to institutions across the country (a human skull is even sent to the University of Moscow in what is then the USSR). Over the next 30 years, the site is forgotten by archaeologists, but targeted by local pothunters and outside collectors
Roger Kelly conducts two seasons of excavations at Elden as a training course at Northern Arizona University, examining four rooms not dug by Fewkes and re-investigating part of a large community room, along with a curio shop built at the site in 1927 or 1928 and abandoned a few years later. The excavation recovers 550 artifacts and 50,000 sherds.
An archaeological advisory committee recommends to Coconino National Forest that the Forest Service retain Elden Pueblo because of its importance to the development of archaeology in the region and as a site that, although largely excavated and poorly recorded, could serve as a testing ground for theories developed at more pristine sites.
Testing by Forest Service Archaeologists, with members of the Youth Conservation Corps, reveals susbtantial deposits remain in areas where Fewkes dug. Enthusiasm and interest of YCC workers leads to concept of developing site as a public involvement project in which excavation and stabilization of the ruin would be done as a means of educating the public about archaeology, local prehistory, and cultural values of other groups.
Summer camp in archaeology for school children instituted with Museum of Northern Arizona. Also, the Arizona Archaeological Society, an avocational group, begins its summer field school at Elden for their certification program.