Past Santa Fe, we decided to continue south on state road 41. We found it to be not exactly the best road, but wanted to stop at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. The monument is comprised of three pueblo sites and we decided to only stop at Gran Quivira because it seemed to have the most to see and was right on our way. :-D
First we checked out the visitors center which was small, but interesting.
Then we walked around the grounds. These pueblos were major trade centers. Salt from nearby dry lake beds was an important commodity traded between Pueblo and Plains Indians. Gran Quivira grew from a cluster of pithouses 1200 years ago to a stone and adobe village with 2000 people.
The plaza was the heart of the pueblo.
In the 16th century, Spanish explorers came to New Mexico looking for riches. They were disappointed. But the Pope was not so easily dissuaded and charged the Spanish crown with Christianizing the natives. In 1630, the first mission church was started at Gran Quivira. The remains of the church is in the foreground, with the cemetery in the rear.
In 1659, work was begun on a new church. Men of the pueblo carved and placed the wooden beams. How they did that, I don't know.
Here you can see more of the beams from the side view.
The new church was never completed and the pueblo was abandoned during the 1670s. The theory is that this was due to raids by the Apaches, drought with wide-spread famine, and epidemics from introduced diseases.