Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Civil War in New Mexico

Just east of Santa Fe is Pecos National Historic Park, a place Ron had wanted to visit for awhile.  It's always a little frightening to follow signs into an unknown parking lot, but it was well designed for RVs.  Pecos NHP is an interesting spot with varied historical significance.  Ron's curiosity was peaked by the fact that this was a pivotal Civil War site. 
Imagine that.  The visitor center had plenty of information about the battle and Ron was happy.  (BTW, the beautiful visitor center and some of the land was donated by Greer Garson.  I only remember the name, not her movies, but that was certainly generous of her.)

But this land had a long history before the War Between the States.  In the ninth century, the pre-pueblo people lived in pit houses along the rivers.  Around 1100 the first Puebloans built rock and mud villages in the valley.  In the 1300s, these small villages were abandoned and Pecos Pueblo atop the hill grew larger.  By 1450, it had become a four story fortress with 2000 people.

Now most of the pueblo has either collapsed or is buried, so one can only imagine.

The park service has rebuilt one of the kivas and you can climb down into it.  The popular notion is that the kivas were used for religious ceremonies, but personally I believe they were meeting rooms.  Then they could be used for anything - business meetings, judicial concerns, day care, bingo . . .  You get the idea.  Of course this is just my opinion.  One thing is sure, the pueblo really had quite a view and could spot potential attackers easily.

Ron and I looked around the area they had described as the trash pit and made some exciting finds.  I found a pot chard with a decorative black design along the edge and Ron found what he thought was flint.  Of course, we left them for someone else to discover.
I showed the picture to the volunteer at the visitor center and he agreed that Ron's find looked like alibates flint from Texas.  The Pecos Indians were very successful farmers and traded with the Plains Indians for buffalo and other useful things like the flint.

Then in the mid 1500s, the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors signaled the beginning of the end of their lifestyle.  They brought priests and built churches and tried to impose a different way of life on the Puebloans.
This is the church as it appeared in 1915.

They are currently working to stabilize it for the future.  I'm always torn on the stabilization issue.  Then it's no longer an artifact, but a recreation.  On the other hand it would eventually disappear if nothing was done.

Soon we continued on our way.  Next stop - Las Vegas.  (No, not that Las Vegas, but the one in New Mexico.)


  1. Nice choice of heading to the "cheaper" Vegas. It'll help keep money in your pockets. :c)

    Civil War in New Mexico? Who knew?

  2. Very interesting. I know very little about the early history of the US. I shall have to find out more on it.

  3. I think you're right about the kivas. In fact, I think an interpreter at one of the cliff dwellings I'd been to said the same thing - that they could have been used for anything. Probably not bingo tho. :-)

  4. Being underground I bet they are cooler in temperature too, what better place to gather in the desert?