DRY STONE WALLS ENCIRCLE THE SITE OF THE PUEBLO
This week I would like to finish my survey of images I captured during my recent trip to New Mexico. We had planned to visit several National Monuments on the way back to Albuquerque and our trip home. Two of our choices were still closed due to the remnants of Covid, still a big concern for the Native American population. After a quick survey of the map, we discovered another site, Pecos National Park, a short drive to the East out of Santa Fe.
A WIDER VIEW IN B&W - THE CHURCH RUINS ARE BACKGROUND LEFT
The Park is a large slice of history that even includes one of the Western battlefield sites of the Civil War, where Union Volunteers defeated an equally small contingent of rebels with dreams of Confederate territories to the West of Texas. Who knew? But the most important aspect of the Monument is the archaeological remains of one of the largest pueblos in New Mexico. This pueblo was "discovered" by the Spanish Conquistadors in their trek of conquest through New Mexico in 1600. Seemingly located in the proverbial "Middle of Nowhere", the pueblo actually was tied to trade routes that extended all the way to both the Pacific Northwest and the Great Plains and beyond to the East. The pueblo was home to almost two thousand inhabitants who all lived in one five- story adobe "apartment building" surrounded by defensive walls located above the Pecos River in the valley below. The pueblo had been thriving for 150 years before the Spanish arrived.
THE VAST SURROUNDINGS; THE PECOS RIVER IS HIDDEN BELOW, BETWEEN THE PUEBLO AND THE GIORIETA MESA
In typical colonial fashion, the Spaniards ignored hundreds of years of a successful settlement as they endeavored to control and "civilize" the Pueblo. Once it became clear that there was no gold in the area, (that search would be pursued all the way to present-day Kansas), the Spanish turned to religion as the main reason to assert their control. They built a church next to the Pueblo that was significantly larger than the adobe communal dwelling itself.
DRAMATIC SKIES IN B&W OVER THE SANGRE DE CHRISTO MOUNTAINS TO THE EAST
The various Pueblos banded together in a secret revolt in 1680 that successfully threw the Spaniards out of New Mexico. The Native Americans, in a tell-tale assertion of their revolution, built a Kiva right smack-dab in the middle of the remains of the church. But of course it took only a dozen or so years for the Spanish to return to retake their colony. Seemingly humbled, the new church they built was much smaller, dwarfed buy the foundations of the old cathedral around it. It now also lies in ruins.
THE PATH AROUND THE SITE
The pueblo lasted through the Mexican Revolution. The Santa Fe Trail from Missouri to Santa Fe ran right past the pueblo. But by the time the Americans arrived disease, depopulation and Comanche raids had forced the last few inhabitants to move West to join other Jemez pueblo. Native Americans who can trace their family history back to the Pecos come once a year to celebrate their old settlement.
NOT YET SPRING
Fran and I had a great time walking the path around the pueblo ruins in a stiff wind that only increased the atmosphere of the historic settlement. Archaeologists have unearthed most of their finds from the land fills that surrounded the pueblo. The only real remnants of the Native settlement are the defensive ring walls of stone that surrounded and demarcated the pueblo. They reminded me of Hadrian's Wall at the Scottish border of the Roman Empire, built one thousand years before. It took a lot of imagination to conjure up the settlement itself, except for the fact that the 19 existing Pueblos in New Mexico are still there and resemble in many ways this lost city. In the visitor's center we were confused by videos of "Mrs. Miniver" on sale, until we discovered that the English actress Greer Garson had married a Texas oil baron, moved west to New Mexico, and was instrumental in the development, expansion, and preservation of the park. For all its faults, is this a great country, or what?
A LESSON IN ADOBE
The land dwarfs the human history contained within the walls. It was so vast and empty that I had a hard time figuring out how travelers - Natives, Spanish, Mexicans, and Americans - ever actually found the settlement itself. But we were very glad we did.
THE SMALLER ADOBE CHURCH, NOW ALSO IN RUINS