|Black Bear - New Mexico's State Animal|
Wildlife includes bear, coyote, mountain lion, mule deer, antelope, fox, and a host of other smaller critters. I once had to stop my car on the road to Sandia Peak to allow a big black bear sow and her cub to cross the road. More than once, I’ve rounded a curve and come upon two or three mule deer browsing roadside. I recall scrambling for my car while the biggest coyote I’ve ever seen ran in the other direction to get away from the scary biped he’d happened upon. With a wide variety of bird life—including raptors such as owls, hawks, and eagles—this is a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Disdainng the beautiful chalchihuitl, or Sky Stone, the Spanish appropriated the natives as labor for their gold and silver mining activities. The El Real de Los Cerrillos camp was formed to support these activities, but lasted only about a year. The mining continued in the area until the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. Just as in Madrid to the south, activities began again when the Spaniards took control of the area once again.
|Antonio Simoni Store|
The railroad arrived in 1880. The notorious Billy the Kid was supposedly one of its passengers. In 1879 it brought a man named Major D. C. Hyde, who was president of a gold and silver mining company. Major Hyde began promoting turquoise, and even though he vanished from the area under mysterious circumstances the following year, Tiffany & Co. and other New York jewelry companies began marketing turquoise as a gemstone, Tiffany even acquired property at Turquoise Hill. The boom in mining the sky stone lasted until the 1900s.
The Cerrillos Mining District is now the Cerrillos Hills State Park (only we Anglos would tack “Hills” onto a word that means hills) of about 1,100 acres marked with trails that tell the story of the mining along the Turquoise Trail.
Next, it’s North to Alaska—well to Santa Fe. On the way, we pass the Lone Butte/San Marcos area. Archaeologists say the Galisteo Basin had a very large Pueblo Indian population in the 14th and 15th Centuries. Yet when Don Diego de Vargas returned to New Mexico in 1692 after the Revolt, the basin was practically deserted. Galisteo village was founded 15 years later to take advantage of good grazing land. The formations around the area called the “Garden of the Gods" are easily seen from space. This is now a residential and service area for the Turquoise Trail. The San Marcos Café and Feed Store with its yard full of chickens and peacocks is a good place for a meal or a snack. Ranches in the area have been used as sites for numerous movies and seasonal music festivals.
Just north of here, the Trail ends in a meeting with historic Route 66 and Santa Fe.
Next week: Shall remain a mystery to you…as well as to me (at the present).
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