Catalina has a Sun Wheel 
Vista de la Montaña United Methodist Church is on land previously owned by the U.S. Government. These ten acres were once a Titan 2 missile site complete with a silo, missile, and warhead (now deactivated, removed, and backfilled).

According to the National Park Service, the piles of rocks often found on hiking trails are called Bates Cairns. They are named after Waldron Bates, the lead author of the hiking maps still referenced to create today’s trail maps. The cairn found in Catalina at Vista de la Montaña United Methodist Church should possibly be named after Jim Bleess. He built it in the center of the Sun Wheel he constructed at the South end of the Church parking lot.

The Vista Sun Wheel is 63 feet/19.2 meters in diameter thus 197.8 feet/ 60.2 meters circumference. The circular edge and central cairn are made of broken limestone, 4 to 12 inch random. The bed is decomposed ½ inch granite with fines, standard landscape material for southern Arizona. The center post is marked by a sandstone block about 30inch/75cm tall. That post is nearly buried due to recent addition to the mass of the cairn.

The Sun Wheel was two years in the making. Underneath the cairn is where the base of the radio antenna for the Titan Ballistic Missile used to be. The antenna was to receive the signal to launch, not direct the flight of the missile, to its eventual location in the event of war. All the Titan Ballistic Missile sites around Tucson have been dismantled and the silos filled with rocks and concrete. There remains one that is kept as a museum for visitors. It is located just South of Tucson. (The Titan Missile Museum is at 1580 W Duval Mine Rd, Green Valley, AZ 85614).

Jim Bleess said it took twenty-eight tons of rocks to complete the Sun Wheel. There are seven viewing stations. One points to the equinox, and one station points to Kitt Peak. Viewing stations point to the Vernal Equinox on March 20th, the Summer Solstice on June 21st, the Autumnal Equinox on September 23rd, and the Winter Solstice on December 21st.

All are welcome from first light until the twilight hours. No overnight camping, tenting, or RV parking. Check-in at the church office, if open, as a courtesy. Please stay on the gravel path.
Stuart Watkins and James (Jim) Bleess