Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Mexico State Monument System

The New Mexico State Monument system was established in 1931.  Since that time, 16 have been named, although some have been returned to the National Park Service. The following six are still open to the public.

Bosque Redondo Memorial:  Navajo and Mescalero Apache people were forced from their homelands in 1862 - 63 by Colonels James H. Carleton and Kit Carson on a walk of 450 miles in what became known as "The Long Walk", only to be imprisoned on a million-acre reservation near Fort Sumner.  Today, the Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner State Monument, which is located six miles south of Fort Sumner, is a monument to this great military atrocity.
Walking the quarter-mile trail around the site brings back to those dark days and the resilience of the Native American people who were eventually allowed to return to their homelands.  The monument was designed by Navajo architect David Sloan, and is shaped like a hogan (a Navajo dwelling) and a tepee, and features a video that describes how the Navajo people feel about the Bosque Redondo.

Coronado State Monument:  Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, a Spanish explorer in 1540 came looking for the elusive Seven Cities of Gold, found welcoming Native Americans at the Kuaua Pueblo.  Visitors today can descend into the remains of the Pueblo's ceremonial kiva at the Coronado State Monument, which is located 17 miles north of Albuquerque.  The kiva which is unique for its square shape, opens into a large room just below ground.  Thick walls support 17 layers of murals representing some of the finest pre-Columbian mural art in the US.  At the Visitors Center, children can don conquistador armor and grind corn on a metate (slab) with a mano (grinding stone).  As easy half-mile trail winds around the site, other trails allow visitors to explore the nearby Rio Grande bosque.

El Camino Real Heritage Center:  El Camino Real parallels I-25 and dates to 1519, when Spanish explorers headed north from Mexico to trade with Native tribes.  Standing on El Camino Real's (the Royal Road) windswept overlook today, it's easy to envision 16th-century travelers trudging through the desert to trade everything from live macaws to turquoise.  Visitors today see virtually what travelers saw 400 years ago.  Along with hand-hewn carts and tools, the Cultural Center, 35 miles south of Socorro, features a replica of a turquoise studded funeral mask once used by Native Americans and Mexicans, and offers an unbelievable look at this historic road.

Fort Selden State Monument:  Fort Seldon is quiet now although the wind sweeps through the adobe ruins.  It wasn't always that way.   Beginning in 1865, buffalo soldiers patrolled the desert, protecting travelers on El Camino Real from outlaws and Apaches.  Built near the Rio Grande, 13 miles north of Las Cruces, this isolated post comprised a central parade ground, officers' quarters, enlisted men's barracks, and corrals.  A young Douglas MacArthur called the fort home while his father was post commander (1884-86).
A 12-pound cannon ball, period firearms, soldiers' uniforms, utensils, and tools are displayed at the Visitors Center.  The second Saturday of each month, reenactors sound reveille and spend a day as 19th-century soldiers.  And every Saturday, a ranger prepares food as it was done 100 years ago, using hornos, fireplaces, and Dutch ovens.

Jemez State Monument:  Explorers declared the Pueblo at Jemez a Spanish colony in 1598.  Catholic priests forced the Puebloans to build grand missions, but in 1680, the Jemez people helped oust the Spanish during the Pueblo Revolt.  The Mission fell into disuse.  Beginning in 1910, archeological excavations and subsequent WPA and CCC restorations revealed colorful frescos on the mission walls, which visitors can see at the monument, a mile north of Jemez Springs.  A rare octagonal bell tower of the San Jose de los Jemez Mission (1610) still watches over the stone walls of the 500-year-old Giusewa Pueblo, where the ancestors of today's Jemez Pueblo people lived.

Lincoln State Monument:  Just the name "Lincoln" brings images of the state's Wild West days.  Except for the gunplay, little has changed since the famous Lincoln  County War - a real-life tale fueled by greed, corruption, violence, and ambition - and the legend of Billy the Kid and Sheriff Pat Garrett, who is credited with killing the Kid in 1881.
The State Monument comprises the entire town of Lincoln.  Among its 17 historic buildings sits a torreon (guard tower) built before 1860, and the Wortley Hotel, once owned by Pat Garrett. The Tunstall Store holds 1870s merchandise such as spats and a coffee grinder.  Walk the halls of the County Courthouse, where exhibits today recount past dramas.

All of these sites are wonderful places to visit with your family on short day trips around New Mexico.
(Taken from New Mexico magazine).

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