Tuesday, August 14, 2018

O'Keeffe, Taos, and the Standard Oil Heiress

Georgia O’Keeffe was the reason Marsha and I came to northern New Mexico for the first time almost twenty-six years ago to celebrate our silver anniversary. 
            
 I had little familiarity with her art when earlier that year we went to a retrospective exhibit of her work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.  And, although not really fans of non-representational paintings, we both were, in the jargon of the day, totally blown away by what we perceived as O’Keeffe’s abstract interpretations of the desert southwest – recognizable, yet not realistic.
           
So when we were trying to choose where to celebrate our marriage milestone we recalled that artwork and decided to go see the land that was the inspiration for her non-pictorial pictures.
           
And quickly discovered when that we looked at things a certain way, particularly through a camera viewfinder, they were not that imaginary after all.  And we were forever hooked on the desert southwest.
           
 O’Keeffe’s first home in New Mexico was at “Ghost Ranch” in the town of Abiquiu about forty-five miles north of Santa Fe.  And following the advice of a fellow traveler we had met at breakfast we decided to make her first home our first sightseeing stop.
           
The ranch was then, and today, a Presbyterian Education and Retreat Center, donated to the church by Arthur Newton Pack and his wife Phoebe in 1955.  In the 1930s Pack had been a frequent guest at what was at that time an exclusive dude ranch run by Carol Stanley whose former husband by divorce Roy Pfaffle had won the deed to the property in a poker game sometime early in 1928.  Guests at Stanley’s high desert resort included Charles Lindbergh, Ansel Adams and John Wayne – and for most summers from 1929 to 1945, Georgia O’Keeffe.  Prior to that it had been the property of the Archuleta brothers, cattle rustlers who enjoyed the coverage and invisibility that the canyon provided and had a tendency to murder others who came onto their refuge.  To discourage their neighbors from snooping around the Archuletas spread the rumor that the land was haunted by evil spirits – from which it came to be called “Rancho de los Brujos” (“Ranch of the Witches.”)  Ultimately, and probably inevitably, one Archuleta killed the other – after which a group of local men came to the ranch, and hung the remaining brother and his gang from a cottonwood tree that still stands next to one of the casitas on the property.  On taking over the property Carol Stanley renamed it Ghost Ranch – a friendlier moniker that still captured a bit of its past history.
           
O’Keeffe’s casita could not be visited.  But on the way in to the ranch Marsha and I noticed a tall red rock formation, which we discovered at the visitor center was appropriately named Chimney Rock and was climbable via a three mile round trip trail with a 600 foot rise in elevation.  So, armed with our bottles of apple juice and some small snacks, we set upon our inaugural New Mexican hike at the top of which we found a panoramic view of the landscape which was so inspiring to O’Keeffe.  And to us.  I also personally learned that, with Marsha, I was willing to try things I once would never have thought I was capable of doing.
           
During her summers at Ghost Ranch O’Keeffe learned to drive an automobile. And on one of her motor trips came upon a property in the village of Abiquiu, which she decided she wanted as her own house.  At the time, it was a deteriorating adobe structure owned by the Roman Catholic Church, which for about fifteen years did not want to sell it. O’Keeffe persisted.  Eventually the church relented, and she was able to purchase it in 1945, renovate it, and reside there until 1984 when frailty forced her to move to Santa Fe for the two remaining years of her life.
           
It was this house which was itself the subject matter of over two dozen of her most iconic painting that we finally visited on a recent Friday with our friends Roberta, Doug and Elizabeth from our former home town of Wethersfield, CT who were visiting Santa Fe for the first time.  And who, like us on our maiden voyage to the Land of Enchantment, were drawn here (at least in part) by O’Keeffe’s work.
           
Access to the residence is available only by guided tour through the O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, which ferries tourists from the Visitor Center on the grounds of the Abiquiu Inn, through the tiny village, to the 5,000 square foot residence with acequia drenched gardens and a central patio that is one of her favorite subjects.
            
 In O’Keeffe’s mind, “Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.”
           
For example, our tour guide explained, the tiles shown in the picture below, as well as the doorway, are both real.  But the tiles are not on the bottom of the wall.  They actually form the walkway below.  However O’Keeffe noticed that when the light caused a certain type of shadow, the visual distinction between wall and walkway was almost invisible – so, why not build on that semi-illusion.  Recognizable, yet not realistic – abstract but not imaginary.


      
 After our house tour, and a delicious lunch at the Abiquiu Inn the five of us drove out to another of O’Keeffe’s favorite subjects, The White Place (aka Plaza Blanca) – an area of bone white hoodoos (rock pillars that do not maintain the same form from top to bottom).  Now on the grounds of the Dar Al Islam Education Center and Mosque and open to the public it is reachable via a circuitous pair of back roads culminating in an extremely unimproved quarter-mile entryway that could deter even the most devoted O’Keeffe enthusiast if they were not aware of what awaited.  (I cannot fathom how O’Keeffe herself got out here.)
           
It is monsoon season in New Mexico.  And when we got to The White Place the surrounding skies became decidedly non-blue, and the winds began blowing fiercely.  So we limited our visit to a short walk towards the formations and some zoom photos.  But even in the less than ideal lighting conditions I think all of us could see the possibilities, which Marsha, and I at other times on sunnier days have experienced up close and personal.

           
Two days later our quintet traveled the High Road to Taos – stopping along the way at ElSantuario de Chimayó – a Roman Catholic Church, and National Historic Landmark in the village of Chimayo.  Whether you believe or not, there is something about the peacefulness and serenity of old, small Spanish Colonial New Mexican churches that draws you in and wraps its arms around you.
            
 Plus, the dirt in a hole called “el pocitio” in a small closet-sized room is believed to be miraculous, making the church “one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage centers in the United States,” according to the National Park Service, which cares about this because of the site’s Historic Landmark status.  A Prayer Room next to el pocitio contains an amazing number of discarded crutches and rosary beads   And a walking procession of the faithful follows our thirty mile driving route from Santa Fe to Chimayo each Easter.

The youngest among us hunched herself into the tiny room to retrieve two cupped hands of the sacred soil for our group to share.
           
After fortifying ourselves with brunch at Doc Martin’s restaurant in the center Taos –”the best pancakes ever,” according to one of our group – we headed on to Taos Pueblo, constructed between 1000 and 1450 A.D., and “considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the USA” according to their website.  As well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
           
Unfortunately our monsoon luck struck again just as we pulled in to the visitor parking lot.  But armed with umbrellas and jackets we persisted and enjoyed the short walking tour of the Pueblo including Saint Jerome’s Church with its Virgin Mary/Corn Goddess at the center of the altar – a reminder of the forced conversion of the resident Tewa Indians to Catholicism, and of the Native American’s continuing practice of their indigenous Tewa Religion in parallel with their imposed Christianity.
           
Marsha and I first visited Taos Pueblo on our initial foray into New Mexico – on a magnificently sunny day.  And what I recall most from back then was the way in which, as on O’Keeffe’s patio, the luminescence visually rearranged the architectural lines of the multi-story adobe apartments creating another recognizable, yet not realist – abstract but not imaginary scene.
           
The sun came back out during our drive from Taos Pueblo to the Millicent Rogers Museum on the outskirts of town.  The MRM was established by one of her sons and is filled principally with objects from Millicent Rogers' personal collection of jewelry, textiles and baskets.
            
           
Sometimes known as “the Standard Oil Heiress” as the granddaughter of the company’s co-founder (with J.D. Rockefeller) grew up in New York within privilege and wealth.  “Millicent’s life, before Taos, includes the things one would expect, such as travel, homes, marriage [three] and children. But she was also distinctive for her looks and her fashionable style, which resulted in popularity with photographers, clothing designers and fashion magazines.  Apart from photographing well and having a figure for couture design, Millicent had a way of combining fashion elements with an engaging flair, which in turn caught the eye and attention of fashion devotees.  So how does this answer why Millicent collected art of the Southwest? That Millicent approached fashion creatively is the key.”  (MRM website)
           
Looking to recover from her breakup with actor Clark Gable, Millicent came to northern New Mexico in 1947 – saw the light, and never left.
           
"Dear Paulie,” she wrote to her son, “did I ever tell you about the feeling I had a little while ago? Suddenly passing Taos Mountain I felt that I was part of the earth, so that I felt the sun on my surface and the rain. I felt the stars and the growth of the Moon; under me, rivers ran..."
           
While Marsha and I may not have felt a spiritual connection of the same depth as that of Millicent Rogers – or an artistic interdependence as profound as Georgia O’Keeffe’s – nonetheless there is something about northern New Mexico that has both changed us, and at the same time, made us immediately feel right at home.  After a quarter century of visiting we moved to Santa Fe last May.  Monica and Bram (our daughter-in-law and son) visited the area twice – once on their honeymoon – and moved to Santa Fe twelve years before we did.  Monica says that she still sometimes looks around and thinks “I just can’t believe I am really here!”
             
We hope that Roberta, Doug and Elizabeth experienced some of that same northern New Mexican
mystique – and that others who follow them will also.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Tumbleweed Hedges

Barbwire fences

 catch drifting parched plants, to form

 tumbleweed hedges.


O'Keeffe Country

Layers of paint chips

in gentle shades of blue, shaped

like mountain contours.



 

“Well! Well! Well!... This is wonderful. No one told me it was like this!


“Well! Well! Well!... This is wonderful. No one told me it was like this!” (Georgia O'Keeffe - on arriving in New Mexico)

Georgia O’Keeffe was the reason Marsha and I came to northern New Mexico for the first time almost twenty-six years ago to celebrate our silver anniversary. 
            
 I had little familiarity with her art when earlier that year we went to a retrospective exhibit of her work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.  And, although not really fans of non-representational paintings, we both were, in the jargon of the day, totally blown away by what we perceived as O’Keeffe’s abstract interpretations of the desert southwest – recognizable, yet not realistic.
             
So when we were trying to choose where to celebrate our marriage milestone we recalled that artwork and decided to go see the land that was the inspiration for her non-pictorial pictures.
             
And quickly discovered when that we looked at things a certain way, particularly through a camera viewfinder, they were not that imaginary after all.  And we were forever hooked on the desert southwest.
             
O’Keeffe’s first home in New Mexico was at “Ghost Ranch” in the town of Abiquiu about forty-five miles north of Santa Fe.  And following the advice of a fellow traveler we had met at breakfast we decided to make her first home our first sightseeing stop.
             
The ranch was then, and today, a Presbyterian Education and Retreat Center, donated to the church by Arthur Newton Pack and his wife Phoebe in 1955.  In the 1930s Pack had been a frequent guest at what was at that time an exclusive dude ranch run by Carol Stanley whose former husband by divorce Roy Pfaffle had won the deed to the property in a poker game sometime early in 1928.  Guests at Stanley’s high desert resort included Charles Lindbergh, Ansel Adams and John Wayne – and for most summers from 1929 to 1945, Georgia O’Keeffe.  Prior to that it had been the property of the Archuleta brothers, cattle rustlers who enjoyed the coverage and invisibility that the canyon provided and had a tendency to murder others who came onto their refuge.  To discourage their neighbors from snooping around the Archuletas spread the rumor that the land was haunted by evil spirits – from which it came to be called “Rancho de los Brujos” (“Ranch of the Witches.”)  Ultimately, and probably inevitably, one Archuleta killed the other – after which a group of local men came to the ranch, and hung the remaining brother and his gang from a cottonwood tree that still stands next to one of the casitas on the property.  On taking over the property Carol Stanley renamed it Ghost Ranch – a friendlier moniker that still captured a bit of its past history.
             

O’Keeffe’s casita could not be visited.  But on the way in to the ranch Marsha and I noticed a tall red rock formation, which we discovered at the visitor center was appropriately named Chimney Rock and was climbable via a three mile round trip trail with a 600 foot rise in elevation.  So, armed with our bottles of apple juice and some small snacks, we set upon our inaugural New Mexican hike at the top of which we found a panoramic view of the landscape which was so inspiring to O’Keeffe.  And to us.  I also personally learned that, with Marsha, I was willing to try things I once would never have thought I was capable of doing.
             
During her summers at Ghost Ranch O’Keeffe learned to drive an automobile. And on one of her motor trips came upon a property in the village of Abiquiu, which she decided she wanted as her own house.  At the time, it was a deteriorating adobe structure owned by the Roman Catholic Church, which for about fifteen years did not want to sell it. O’Keeffe persisted.  Eventually the church relented, and she was able to purchase it in 1945, renovate it, and reside there until 1984 when frailty forced her to move to Santa Fe for the two remaining years of her life.
             
It was this house which was itself the subject matter of over two dozen of her most iconic painting that we finally visited on a recent Friday with our friends R, D and E from our former home town of Wethersfield, CT who were visiting Santa Fe for the first time.  And who, like us on our maiden voyage to the Land of Enchantment, were drawn here (at least in part) by O’Keeffe’s work.
             
Access to the residence is available only by guided tour through the O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, which ferries tourists from the Visitor Center on the grounds of the Abiquiu Inn, through the tiny village, to the 5,000 square foot residence with acequia drenched gardens and a central patio that is one of her favorite subjects.
             
In O’Keeffe’s mind, “Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.”
             
For example, our tour guide explained, the tiles shown in the picture below, as well as the doorway, are both real.  But the tiles are not on the bottom of the wall.  They actually form the walkway below.  However O’Keeffe noticed that when the light caused a certain type of shadow, the visual distinction between wall and walkway was almost invisible – so, why not build on that semi-illusion.  Recognizable, yet not realistic – abstract but not imaginary     
  
             
After our house tour, and a delicious lunch at the Abiquiu Inn the five of us drove out to another of O’Keeffe’s favorite subjects, The White Place (aka Plaza Blanca) – an area of bone white hoodoos (rock pillars that do not maintain the same form from top to bottom).  Now on the grounds of the Dar Al Islam Education Center and Mosque and open to the public it is reachable via a circuitous pair of back roads culminating in an extremely unimproved quarter-mile entryway that could deter even the most devoted O’Keeffe enthusiast if they were not aware of what awaited.  (I cannot fathom how O’Keeffe herself got out here.)
            
 It is monsoon season in New Mexico.  And when we got to The White Place the surrounding skies became decidedly non-blue, and the winds began blowing fiercely.  So we limited our visit to a short walk towards the formations and some zoom photos.  But even in the less than ideal lighting conditions I think all of us could see the possibilities, which Marsha, and I at other times on sunnier days have experienced up close and personal.

          
Two days later our quintet traveled the High Road to Taos – stopping along the way at El Santuario de Chimayó – a Roman Catholic Church, and National Historic Landmark in the village of Chimayo.  Whether you believe or not, there is something about the peacefulness and serenity of old, small Spanish Colonial New Mexican churches that draws you in and wraps its arms around you.
            
 Plus, the dirt in a hole called “el pocitio” in a small closet-sized room is believed to be miraculous, making the church “one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage centers in the United States,” according to the National Park Service, which cares about this because of the site’s Historic Landmark status.  A Prayer Room next to el pocitio contains an amazing number of discarded crutches and rosary beads   And a walking procession of the faithful follows our thirty mile driving route from Santa Fe to Chimayo each Easter.
             
The youngest among us hunched herself into the tiny room to retrieve two cupped hands of the sacred soil for our group to share.
             
After fortifying ourselves with brunch at Doc Martin’s restaurant in the center Taos –”the best pancakes ever,” according to one of our group – we headed on to Taos Pueblo, constructed between 1000 and 1450 A.D., and “considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the USA” according to their website.  As well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
             
Unfortunately our monsoon luck struck again just as we pulled in to the visitor parking lot.  But armed with umbrellas and jackets we persisted and enjoyed the short walking tour of the Pueblo including Saint Jerome’s Church with its Virgin Mary/Corn Goddess at the center of the altar – a reminder of the forced conversion of the resident Tewa Indians to Catholicism, and of the Native American’s continuing practice of their indigenous Tewa Religion in parallel with their imposed Christianity.
             
Marsha and I first visited Taos Pueblo on our initial foray into New Mexico – on a magnificently sunny day.  And what I recall most from back then was the way in which, as on O’Keeffe’s patio, the luminescence visually rearranged the architectural lines of the multi-story adobe apartments creating another recognizable, yet not realist – abstract but not imaginary scene.
             
The sun came back out during our drive from Taos Pueblo to the Millicent Rogers Museum on the outskirts of town.  The MRM was established by one of her sons and is filled principally with objects from Millicent Rogers' personal collection of jewelry, textiles and baskets.

           
Sometimes known as “the Standard Oil Heiress” as the granddaughter of the company’s co-founder (with J.D. Rockefeller) grew up in New York within privilege and wealth.  “Millicent’s life, before Taos, includes the things one would expect, such as travel, homes, marriage [three] and children. But she was also distinctive for her looks and her fashionable style, which resulted in popularity with photographers, clothing designers and fashion magazines.  Apart from photographing well and having a figure for couture design, Millicent had a way of combining fashion elements with an engaging flair, which in turn caught the eye and attention of fashion devotees.  So how does this answer why Millicent collected art of the Southwest? That Millicent approached fashion creatively is the key.”  (MRM website)
             
Looking to recover from her breakup with actor Clark Gable, Millicent came to northern New Mexico in 1947 – saw the light, and never left.
             
"Dear Paulie,” she wrote to her son, “did I ever tell you about the feeling I had a little while ago? Suddenly passing Taos Mountain I felt that I was part of the earth, so that I felt the sun on my surface and the rain. I felt the stars and the growth of the Moon; under me, rivers ran..."
             
While Marsha and I may not have felt a spiritual connection of the same depth as that of Millicent Rogers – or an artistic interdependence as profound as Georgia O’Keeffe’s – nonetheless there is something about northern New Mexico that has both changed us, and at the same time, made us immediately feel right at home.  After a quarter century of visiting we moved to Santa Fe last May.  Monica and Bram (our daughter-in-law and son) visited the area twice – once on their honeymoon – and moved to Santa Fe twelve years before we did.  Monica says that she still sometimes looks around and thinks “I just can’t believe I am really here!”
             
We hope that R, D and E experienced some of that same northern New Mexican mystique – and that others who follow them will also.

Mud Houses on Dirt Roads

It is an axiom of the real estate business here in Santa Fe, New Mexico that the priciest residences are mud houses on dirt roads.
             
Like most such maxims this one is only partially true.  These houses are not really made of mud – but rather a mixture of clay, sand, straw, and sweat known as adobe.
             
I learned this the other day at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, the living history museum at which Marsha and I volunteer.  She works principally in the 18th century Golondrinas Placita where she sometimes guides visitors through its several rooms and buildings, but mainly is in the weaving section of that Placita where she has enough different things to do to keep her active mind and hands happily busy.  On this day Marsha was demonstrating weaving on a piece she is making for herself with the intent of later decorating it with colcha, a Spanish form of embroidery.
             
I have been assigned to El Grande Molino (the big water wheel powered grist mill) and Sierra Village, the late 1800s representation of the New Mexico lifestyle in the mountains.  This time however, while Marsha was weaving, I was assigned to the adobe brick making area to give hands on lessons to children and adults on how these quintessential New Mexican building blocks were manufactured. 
             
I went into this “job” not knowing much more about adobe than the aforementioned real estate rule of thumb.  But as the day went on, as frequently happens, I learned several things that I did not know about “mud houses.” – which I later supplemented with some internet searches. 
             
For example adobe, like most ancient inventions, is not made according to a formula but rather by feel. The ratio of clay to sand in the adobe that we were making was about 80% clay and 20% sand.  But in clays with more natural “grit” in them, the proportion of sand would be lower.  The purpose of the straw is similar to that of rebar in modern concrete construction – to increase the tensile strength (resistance to being torn apart) of the structure.  The volume of straw is, in general, the maximum amount that can be added and still be able to mix the adobe.  And water is the minimum amount that allows the clay, sand and straw to be combined. The sweat quotient is a function of the amounts of straw and water, as well as the temperature and amount of sun beating down of the workers.  Fortunately for my two fellow brick makers and me, the shade of a tree knocked down the heat by about fifteen degrees and made our five-plus hour workday more bearable.
            
 The word adobe /əˈdoʊbiː/ itself has been around for about 4000 years with basically no change in either pronunciation or meaning. It comes from the Middle Egyptian word ɟbt "mudbrick" (c. 2000 BC).  The word remained the same as Middle Egyptian evolved into Late Egyptian, Demotic or "pre-Coptic", and finally to Coptic (c. 600 BC).  It was then absorbed into Arabic (a-ūbu) and assimilated into the Old Spanish language as adobe [aˈdobe], probably in the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula, known as Al-Andalus.  English borrowed the word from Spanish in the early 18th century.
            
 So, when the Spanish came to New Mexico in the 1500s they brought with them the technology to make adobe bricks and houses.  However that engineering knowledge already existed among the Pueblo Indians who resided in the area for a least a half century before.  The particulars, or nitty-gritty if you will, of the Native American engineering technique was however slightly different from that of the Conquistadors.
            
 The bricks that the Spanish used were rectangular and were made in wooden molds similar to the demo models that our trio of adobe masons was using – but larger.  The building blocks of the Pueblo Indians were handmade in the shape and size of softballs.  Both types of “bricks” were however held together with a mortar made of the same mixture, minus the straw – and then painted over with a slightly more liquid layer of straw-less adobe.  Ultimately the Puebloans adopted the Spanish style  – in this case, unlike Catholicism, recognizing the practicality and efficiency of the technique rather than being coerced into converting.
            

             




 

However one aspect of the Indian architecture particularly caught the interest of the Spaniards.  Taos Pueblo, whose buildings have been in existence in situ for over 1,000 years –allowing for the occasional reapplication of the outer coat of adobe – used its local clay as the basic element of its adobe.  This earth, known now as micaceous clay, contains a high proportion of mica.  Mica is a great natural conductor of heat and as a result, allows the Taos Pueblo cookware to hold heat extremely well. 
            
 It also glitters brightly in the intense northern New Mexican sun.  Brightly enough to be mistaken for a more precious metal by Spanish explorers who had trudged thousands of miles in the desert heat in search of the Seven Gold Cities of Cibola – allegedly first rumored to exist in the area by Estebanico, the “Black Muslim from Azamoor,” who was the guide for Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his 600 hundred Conquistadors on their search for yellow metal in 1527 CE.
            
 Something that the Spanish apparently did find in the Pueblos is what has become the New Mexican way of putting a roof onto an adobe house.   Like the rest of the building, the upper covering was made of adobe (or sometimes mud), supported by a wooden substructure made up of “vigas” and “latillas”.
            
 Vigas – peeled logs with a minimum of woodworking – are the main structural members carrying the weight of the roof to the load-bearing exterior walls.  The exposed beam ends projecting from the outside of the wall are often replicated in modern Pueblo style, non-adobe architecture.  The vigas in turn support latillas – hewn boards, or in earlier buildings, simply peeled branches – which are placed crosswise and upon which the adobe roof is laid, normally with intermediate layers of brush or soil.
             
This technique dates back to the Ancestral Puebloan peoples – and vigas (or holes left by deteriorated vigas) are still visible in some surviving buildings.



Today Santa Fe is home to many adobe structures that are over 400 years old – including the oldest house in America located in the city’s Barrio Analco – and a much more modern building, which appeared on National Public Television’s “This Old House.”
             
“Barrio Analco” was initially settled by the Tlaxcalan Indians who arrived from Mexico with the first Spanish settlers under the leadership of Juan de Onate in 1598.  “Analco” means “across the water” in the language of the Tiaxcalans, who chose to build their neighborhood on higher ground just above the Santa Fe River.  Tree-rings (probably taken from the vigas) date the house to about 1650, but the building is believed to have been constructed on the ruins of earlier Pueblo settlements that could date back to the 1200s AD.   
             
Among other authentic adobes in Santa Fe is one built in the 1930s in the Historic District that Public Television program “This Old House” helped renovate in 1990.  According to the show’s website, “One memorable moment came when the crew began cutting a new window opening in the kitchen. They passed a length of barbed wire through a hole, attached sticks to each end for handles on the outside and inside, and sawed away through the thick mud brick walls!”
            
 The mission of El Rancho de las Golindrinas living history museum is to offer visitors an in-depth look into the celebrations, music, dance and many other aspects of life in the Spanish, Mexican and Territorial periods of the Southwest.  As such, several of the buildings are reconstructed examples of adobe structures that played a part in 18th and 19th century New Mexican history. On this day my part in this was to involve visitors in creating small one bite brownie-size adobe bricks using the traditional methods. 
             
“W” – who has several years experience in this – was in charge of our group, which consisted of “A”, a teenage girl who along with her mother and sister volunteer at el Rancho, and myself.  By the time I arrived W had set up a wheelbarrow with the adobe ingredients and a large shovel – and was laying out the wooden molds we would use to create the bricks, twenty in each template.  After introductions I began mixing the slurry while W tended to some administrative matters.  “A” and I then alternated blending the semi-liquid mixture until it was proclaimed ready – when made into a ball it stuck together and did not adhere to our hands.  That’s as scientific as it gets.
            
 For the next five hours, we and our visitors created almost one thousand baby building blocks.  The mini-adobes will be used in early September at the Fiesta de los Niños to provide a hands-on opportunity to actually construct some small-scale adobe buildings.  Just like the Tiaxcalan tykes and the children at Taos Pueblo did in the days before plastic Legos.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

El Camino de Barrio Atajo – The Royal Road's Shortcut Through Rancho Viejo


For more than two centuries, from 1598 to 1882, the 1,600-mile long El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro [“The Royal Road of the Interior”] was the main line of communication and trade between the Spanish government in Mexico City and its distant frontier outpost of New Mexico and its Capital City of Santa Fe.  Literally everything the people of New Mexico needed that they could not produce themselves had to be transported over this vital link to the outside world.

           
So to have an historical connection, however tenuous, to this route without which New Mexico would not be what it is today – would be pretty cool.  So today’s question is, “Did El Camino Royal pass through what today is called Rancho Viejo?” – the 23,000-acre (39 square mile) parcel of land in southern Santa Fe County, which contains the HOA community in which Marsha and I now live.
             
A definite “yes” is what I am hoping for.  But I will certainly settle for a “possibly could have.” 
             
In 1582 Fray Bernardo Beltran and Antonio de Espejo led an expedition to New Mexico in search of Fray Agustin Rodrigues and his fellow priests who one year earlier had gone north from Mexico to explore the region traveled initially by Vasquez de Coronado in 1540.   Many of the priests of the 1581 odyssey were killed en route.  Fray Rodrigues and another cleric chose to stay to try and convert the Indians – but both disappeared and Beltran and Espejo failed to find any traces of either of them. The report of Beltran’s and Espejo’s travels is credited with the first official use of the term "La Nuevo Mexico" to describe the area – as well as being the first to enter this region with wagons.  In 1598, Don Juan de Onate followed these wheel tracks as he traveled northward to become Nuevo Mexico’s first governor in its initial capital at San Gabriel de Yungue-Ouinge, just west of present-day Ohkay Owingeh where the Rio Chama meets the Rio Grande.
             
Robert J. Torrez writes on newmexicohistory.org,
             
“Every two or three years, a supply train composed of several dozen wagons loaded with supplies would head north towards Santa Fe, nearly sixteen-hundred miles away. These sturdy, four-wheel vehicles were pulled by teams of up to eight mules or oxen and carried food items that were not grown in New Mexico, including sugar and olive oil for cooking as well as welcome treats such as chocolate. Transportation of many other items of Spanish material culture, such as paper, cloth, shoes, medicine, musical instruments, barrels of sacramental wine, iron, gunpowder, and other supplies needed by the mission churches and the Spanish colonists, made the royal road an important factor in the survival of the colony.
             
“Finally, six months after leaving Mexico, the caravan arrived at Santa Fe. Anxious government officials would eagerly open leather pouches bulging with important government papers; local citizens, eager for news from home, would inquire about mail from loved ones; the wagons would be unloaded and the supplies distributed throughout the province. For the next four to six months, trade goods from the missions and settlements would be gathered in preparation for the return trip to Mexico. Vast flocks of sheep were collected; raw wool, buffalo and deer hides, pine nuts, salt, wool blankets, and woven stockings were carefully packed and loaded on the wagons. Soon the caravan would begin its long trip south, completing another cycle of trade and communication over the camino real—New Mexico's royal road.”
             
Over time the travelers of El Camino Real developed alternate sub-routes within the overall path.
             
As the caravans approached Santa Fe there were three clear choices: “one gave travelers the choice of scaling the basalt behemoth [of La Bajada], another followed the Santa Fe River through the yawning canyon of Las Bocas (the Mouths), and the third required another, longer trek around La Bajada through the Galisteo Basin,” according to the National Park Service web site.
             
It is that third option that could cause the Royal Road to find its way through the Rancho Viejo – possibly just up the street and a few feet into the desert plains from our actual place of residence.  
             
A major reason for traveling through the Basin was the presence of the eponymous Galisteo Creek – aka Galisteo River.  (We do like to overstate the size of few water sources that we have out here.)  Santa Fe residents, and visitors such as soldiers of both the U.S. Cavalry and the Confederate Army during the 1800s would regularly water their horses, and themselves, at the perennial stream that flows from the eastern highlands down into the Rio Grande through Galisteo.  I learned this during a one-on-one meeting I was fortunate enough to have with Dr. Eric Blinman, Director of the state’s Office of Archaeological Studies.  I was asking him about possible historic and prehistoric transients through the present day Rancho Viejo property.  And he pointed out that it is a “straight shot” from “The City Different” through Rancho Viejo to the Galisteo Creek.
             
One Rancho that travelers on the Royal Road most definitely did pass through was what is today El Rancho de las Golondrinas (The “Ranch of the Swallows”) – the living history museum in La Cienega, NM at which Marsha and I volunteer.  The first owner of record for this large property was Miguel Vega y Coca who acquired the land in the early 1700s. For many years y Coca’s estancia (literally “stay”) was a paraje (wayside camping spot) on the Camino Real – providing goods for trade and serving as the last stop for travelers heading north to Santa Fe, and the first for those on the southbound journey to Mexico.  The paraje is mentioned explicitly by, among others, the Spanish military leader and governor, Don Juan Bautista de Anza, who he stopped there with his expeditionary force in 1780.
             
Rancho Viejo’s part on the Royal Road does not have the same written documentation as does The Ranch of the Swallows.   But sometimes all it takes for somewhere to be considered historically significant is for it to geographically come between two genuinely historic locales that historic people needed to travel between – the neighborhood shortcut (“barrio atajo”) that everybody knows about, and uses. 
             
That certainly sounds like a “possibly could have” to me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Litle Colcha

Many readers of this know that Marsha is an enthusiastic and (IMHO) quite talented knitter.  So when we moved to Santa Fe and decided to volunteer at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, the Spanish Colonial living history museum in the nearby “census-designated place”* of La Cienega, it was a natural that her major “character playing role” interest was to be someone who practices the fiber arts of that historic period.
           
And as the museum’s website indicates there are plenty of opportunities to “learn [and practice] traditional activities and crafts like colcha embroidery, washing wool with yucca root, carding, spinning on wheels and malacates (spindles), dyeing with vegetable dyes, and weaving on two & four-harness looms.”
         
Here in northern New Mexico weaving is the preeminent Spanish – and Native American – fiber craft.  In fact weaving with locally grown cotton has been happening in the Southwest since about 800 AD – eight centuries before the arrival of any Europeans.  The Chimayo Weavers website says, “When the Spanish came to the Southwest, the Pueblo Indians were made to weave as part of their subjugation. The churro sheep brought by the Spanish became the new fiber source, and the striped, longer-than-wide format of the Rio Grande blanket was adopted for Pueblo blankets. In 1680 the Pueblo Revolt occurred, and the Spanish were driven back to El Paso del Norte. When the Spanish returned to New Mexico, more cooperative arrangements were made for peaceful coexistence. Pueblo weaving today consists of mantas, including elaborately embroidered examples, sashes of varying widths and weave structures, and the striped blanket descendants of those woven for Spanish overlords.”

Marsha has already taken her first weaving steps at El Rancho, wefting several inches on the museum’s pedal loom during the recent Fiber Fest.  She also plans on learning colcha embroidery, which was popular from the early 1700s to late 1800s in the southwest United States.

          
According to nordicneedle.net, “the traditional Spanish Colonial colcha designs were influenced by East Indian prints and 18th century crewel. So, the designs included flowers, leaves, birds, often with a central medallion. The stitch that became known as ‘colcha’ was a self-couching stitch [aka Convent Stitch, Klosterstitch, Span Stitch, and Spannstitch.”]  I am guessing that the “East Indian prints and 18th century crewel” that influenced colcha designs must have somehow come to northern New Mexico by way of the Camino Real and/or the Santa Fe Trail, which were really the only sources of new ideas for this at-the-time really isolated part of the North American continent.
           
While the majority of colcha embroidery was done on bedspreads made of “sabanilla”, a loosely-woven wool fabric with a 12- to 22-thread count, it also appeared frequently on runners and altar cloths.
          
But did the Spanish knit?  Indeed yes.
           
The oldest knitted pieces that have been discovered are some intricately patterned socks (sometimes called Coptic socks) made of white and indigo cotton in Egypt around 1000 - 1400 AD.  But the complexity and level of skill exhibited in these pieces of footwear clearly indicate this was not that first knitter’s first ever project.
           
So it is likely that knitting began closer to the low end of the above date range and was an extension of an earlier fiber art known as “nålbinding” – an hand craft known to have been in existence circa 250 – 420 AD that uses a single needle and produces a very similar-looking product.  Knitting likely began when an early nålbinder, possible under deadline to get that birthday present done, picked up a second needle and tada! – a brand new craft is born.
           
And, according to sheepandstich.com this Egyptian invention then spread to Spain “carried over by Arabs during the Islamic Conquest or brought back by Spaniards during the Crusades – before exploding into the rest of Europe [where initially] it was mostly confined to the very rich, very royal or very religious (as in the Catholic Church).”
           
To that point, the oldest European knitting relics are some detailed silk pillow covers that date to around 1275 A.D., which were found in the tomb of Prince Fernando de la Cerdo of Spain.  Most of the early knit objects in Spain, not surprisingly, were liturgical garments and accessories for the Catholic Church, knitted of very fine yarn and sometimes stitched with gold and silver threads.
           
By the 14th century knitting had spread to Italy and Germany as evidenced by my personal favorite thing I discovered in this research, the “knitting Madonnas” – paintings depicted the Virgin Mary sitting beside the baby Jesus, needles in hand, slipping, purling, and decreasing.      
              

So why was the BVM knitting?  The Cambridge History of Western Textiles believes these paintings indicate that knitting had more become commonplace and even fashionable among upper-class women – “sweetly domestic” according to Donna Kooler in the Encyclopedia of Knitting.  As we will quickly see, knitting in the 1500s was very much of a guy-thing, so “it is unlikely that reverent altarpieces of the Madonna and Christ would introduce a revolutionary theme of the Madonna usurping a male-dominated trade.”
           
As mentioned earlier the hard-core knitters in Spain were the all-male knitting guilds that kept the Spanish men of style, in style.  “Men in knee breeches depended upon elegant legs for their fashion status, and baggy stockings were a disaster,” says historian Irena Turnau.  In addition to form-fitting stockings members of the guild had to demonstrate their expertise in making felted caps, embroidered gloves, shirts, waistcoats and knitted carpets.
          
My own las Gomondrinas character is that of a “vecino” farmer or miller (depending upon where I am needed) – neither of which call for the display of my elegant legs in knee length breeches.  In fact the trousers I wear are largely indistinguishable from Levi jeans but for the stiffer canvas material, button fly, and lack of belt loops.  So I will not be beseeching my favorite vecina for any custom-made leg ware.   Marsha has however offered to crochet a red sash to add a little color to my gray, black and white ensemble.
           
And in return for this kind gift I am going work on finding an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe – our favorite icon (southwest or otherwise) – wefting away on a pedal mill.  Or better yet perhaps convent-stiching colcha roses onto the cape of Juan Diego – the recently canonized native Mexican peasant to whom the Virgin appeared in 1531.
           
Since moving out here we have seen Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe's image just about everywhere, e.g. tattooed onto the backs, arms, and legs of women and men – or decorating the hoods of highly polished low-rider cars.  So why not doing a little colcha?

          






El Casa de las Golondrinas

When the swallows started clinging to our front door screen and looking longingly into the house we became a little concerned.  We have after all, like most of you, seen Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds” – or at least some of the scarier, more ominous scenes from it.
           
We had already figured that a pair of the fork-tailed, fast-flying, insect-eating birds were looking to set up some form of joint residency with us during their summer stay in the Santa Fe area.  One of the recent conversations on “Nextdoor”, the private Internet social network for our neighborhood centered around how to “cure” the birds from “building mud nests near ceiling of entry.”  Suggestions included hanging glittery tape and/or CDs, “bird netting laced through 2 thin drapery tension rods”, red Christmas wrapping ribbon, incense sticks, and “Amazon Bird Blind tape, hung around the porch.”  On the other side – there always is at least one other side on the Nextdoor app – many folks cited the bird’s mosquito-eating benefit, said the nest would only be there a few weeks, and to let it be and “just clean up the poop on [your] front step.”
           
Our instinct was to go with the latter “live and let live” approach – especially since we are volunteers at an historic rancho and living history museum named El Rancho de las Golondrinas – “The Swallows Ranch.”  Not to put too much faith into what could be a simple punctuation error, but we noticed it did not say “swallow’s” with an apostrophe, which would have implied avian ownership.   So we figured the little golondrinas, which also have nests in various populated places around the ranch, were the type of co-residents who wouldn’t be too demanding.
           
Before the whole screen scene we were noticing the pair of them hanging out atop a two foot tall plastic owl that came with the house and dangles from the ceiling in the outermost corner of the portal entry – about six feet from our house’s front door.  The purpose of the statue as we understand it is to scare pigeons and other birds away from our garden or property.  It sure isn’t decorative.  Obviously however “other birds” do not include golondrinas.  We couldn’t see up high enough to tell what the little guys were doing up there – but they we there, and we were here – and that all seemed just fine.
           
Suddenly we noticed them clinging to our screen – which incidentally is not a swinging door but instead a sliding barrier that curls up into one side of the doorway when not in use, and is held in place by magnet when fully unfurled.  Then, looking more carefully, Marsha realized they seemed to be coveting the dried flower and straw wreath that hung on the outside of the wooden front door itself – and, when opened, stood at a right angle to the mesh insect excluder – clearly visible and teasingly close.  Perhaps that was the source of their building materials we mused.  But when we ourselves looked closely at the apparent object of their affection we could see the concave beginnings of what would ultimately become a tiny mud and straw nest on the main entry to our house.
           
This potential situation brought to mind a similar story about an aunt and uncle of Marsha’s who retired to Green Valley, Arizona that resulted in them bypassing that means of entry for the duration of the bird’s building, birthing, and ultimate empty-nesting.
           
Not to be cruel and since the nest was far enough along to recognize its possibility but not so complete as to be yet usable, we took down the wreath.  And to our relief the little house-builders seem to have simply transferred their nesting spot to the top of the head of the decoy owl – previously their on deck area – and from which they now look down less wistfully at the activities in our front entryway, and no longer need to cling like predatory home invaders eagerly waiting for their next chance.
           
So for this summer at least, welcome to El Casa de las Golondrinas – without the apostrophe, we hope.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Battle of Glorieta Pass or Why New Mexico is not a Southern State/


Recently Marsha and I toured the Glorieta Pass Battlefield, the site of one of New Mexico’s two military engagements during the U.S. Civil War.  

             
Back in 1792 French explorer Pedro Vial blazed a trail from Independence, Missouri to northern New Mexico.  In 1828 – when merchants from the eastern United States sought to take advantage of new trade opportunities with Mexico, which had just won independence from Spain and taken control of  New Mexico – Vial’s way west, soon known as the Santa Fe Tail, would become the preferred way to get there.
             
At this end of the trail lay the snow-capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains through which two passages were established.  Raton Pass, on the border between Colorado and New Mexico, was narrow and steep and initially proved suitable only for packhorses.  A 7,432' high, one-half mile wide crossing at Glorieta Pass between the mountains and the red wall of Glorieta Mesa proved to be easier to negotiate and became the path of choice.  The surrounding forests possibly inspired the name Glorieta, which translates to “bower” meaning “a pleasant shady place under trees.”  The Spanish word also can mean a small square, or a roundabout – as in traffic circle, which is how it is commonly used today in parts of Spain and South America. 
             
New Mexico had become a U.S. Territory in 1848 when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (named for the villa in which it was signed). ended the Mexican American War. So what was the “War Between the States” doing in The Land of Enchantment?
             
According to Charles S. Walker writing in the New Mexico Historical Review, “The Confederate invasion of New Mexico was the initial movement of a campaign the object of which was the seizure of the entire American Southwest and the northern Mexican states. The cause of the invasion was the desire to see the Confederacy a sea-to-sea power with all the advantages which a nation reaching from the Atlantic to the Pacific between the parallels twenty-six and thirty-six north latitude might enjoy.”
             
A big part of this equation, according to H, our tour leader, was the possibility of a coast-to-coast collection of “slave states”.  Texas, with its cotton farming economy, already was pro-slave.   However, while the people of the southern portion of the New Mexico had closer economic and cultural ties to the South, the northern section with more voting power had strong business connections with the Union states via Missouri and The Santa Fe Trail.  As evidence of that southern discontent with being overruled, a convention held at Mesilla New Mexico on March 16, 1861 adopted a decree of secession, and called on the citizens of the western portion of the New Mexico Territory to "join us in this movement".
             
U.S. Army General Henry H. Sibley had been stationed in Arizona before the outbreak of the war, and, like many other southern officers, resigned his commission.  He then traveled east to inform Confederate President Davis of the situation in New Mexico, and outlined a campaign to takeover the entire Territory.   It was the execution of this strategy that culminated in the Battle of Glorieta Pass.
             
Sibley’s plan, of which Jefferson Davis approved, was: to raise an army of three regiments in West Texas; march up the Rio Grande River; capture Santa Fe; turn northeast on the Santa Fe Trail; capture the supplies of equipment and food at Fort Union; head up to Colorado and take control of the gold fields; and then turn west to conquer California and its seaports.  Fort Union (1851 – 1891) and the soon to be mentioned Fort Craig (1853 – 1885) were among the series of forts constructed in the wake of the U.S. – Mexico war and outlined in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
             
Marching to that plan Sibley and 3,500 men invaded the New Mexico Territory in February 1862 with the immediate objective of capturing Fort Craig located along El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, near Elephant, New Mexico.  They were met near the town of Valverde at a ford of Valverde Creek on February 20, 1862 by 3,000 men led by Union Colonel Edward Richard Sprigg Canby who had left that fortified building to prevent the Confederates from crossing the river. 
             
Initially Canby’s troops drove the Rebels back, but the Texans regrouped and launched a frontal attack that drove Canby into retreat.  After two days of fighting Canby requested a truce under a white flag in order to remove the bodies of the dead and wounded.  During the cessation Sibley decided that he had lost too many men and supplies to take Fort Craig itself, and went north to Albuquerque, where the Federals had stored more goods. They reached Albuquerque on March 2nd and attacked, however the Union defenders had already left town with all of the supplies.
             
Sibley continued slowly north to Santa Fe where he dispatched a group of 600 men to take the Capital city – which they did on March 13, however, once again, there was no federal ammunition or supplies.  They did however hoist the Confederate Battle Flag over the plaza – then headed to Fort Union, some ninety miles to the northeast.  Meanwhile Union reinforcements from Colorado, under the command of Colonel John Slough, reached Fort Union.  Canby then ordered Slough to “harass the enemy by partisan operations, obstruct his movements and cut off his supplies”, which Slough chose to interpret as “advance on the enemy.”  He gathered 1,342 men from Fort Union and began the march to Santa Fe.
             
Both Union and Confederate forces moved north to the Santa Fe Trail at Glorieta Pass.  Sibley, who had remained in Albuquerque, sent a Confederate force of 200-300 Texans under the command of Maj. Charles L. Pyron on an advance expedition over the Glorieta Pass, and six companies led by of Col. Tom Green to block the eastern end of Glorieta Pass.  Meanwhile Union forces made a fourteen-day, 400-mile forced march from Denver, over Raton Pass, to Fort Union and then to Glorieta Pass.  On March 26, 27 and 28 both sides locked horns in what some have called the "Gettysburg of the West" – a term that "serves the novelist better than the historian" according to historian Thomas Edrington.  To that point– casualties at Gettysburg totaled 23,049 for the Union (3,155 dead, 14,529 wounded, 5,365 missing); Confederate casualties were 28,063 (3,903 dead, 18,735 injured, and 5,425 missing) versus at Glorieta Pass Union casualties were (51 killed, 78 wounded, 15 captured, 3 missing); and Confederate (50 killed, 80 wounded, 92 captured.)  But while Gettysburg was the “high-water mark of the Confederacy”, Glorieta effectively ended any possibility of Jefferson Davis’ dream of a coast-to-coast collection of “slave states”. 
             
The conflict played out at and around three major stops on the Santa Fe Trail – Johnson’s Ranch, Pigeon’s Ranch, and Kozlowski’s Ranch.
             
Anthony P. Johnson established his ranch at the western end of Glorieta Pass in what today is called Cañoncito at Apache Canyon.  From St. Louis Missouri, Johnson, came west along the Santa Fe Trail in the late 1840s and worked as a teamster at Fort Union. He bought the land on which he built his ranch of adobe and rock in 1858. Johnson sold the ranch around was found murdered ten years later.
             
Moving north to the village of Pecos and then west on State Road 50, still following much of the Santa Fe Trail nearly to Glorieta, New Mexico, was Pigeon’s ranch – a small portion of which remains today.   The ranch was built by Alexander Vallé, a French-American also from St. Louis, Missouri who followed the Santa Fe Trail westward until settling upon this narrow spot on the trail. The 35th Congress awarded him title to a land grant in 1857 or 1858, indicating that he had received a Mexican land grant during that country’s occupancy of New Mexico, possibly from Governor Manuel Armijo in the 1840s. Armijo granted tracts of land to many foreigners who promised to settle the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and act as a buffer between the settlements along the Rio Grande Santa Fe corridor and the Plains Indians.
             
On his land Vallé built a twenty-three-room complex with a principal structure that “formed a kind of Asiatic caravansary”, and a double corral for enclosing and protecting loaded wagons with attached sheds with stalls for draft horses and mules. Initially named Rancho de la Glorieta, it popularly came to be known as Pigeon's Ranch, according to folklore because of the way in which Vallé stuck out his elbows while dancing at local fandangos.  However at least one historian avers that Vallé’s given name was Alexander Pigeon.  Whatever the owner’s surname, the hostelry was the largest and most convenient stop on the trail between Las Vegas (New Mexico) and Santa Fe, housing up to forty people and several hundred animals.
             
The easternmost of the three hostels belonged to Martin Kozlowski.   Born in Warsaw, he became a refugee from the wars with Germany at the age of twenty-one and moved to England where he married. By 1853 he and possibly his wife were in America where he enlisted in the 1st Dragoons who were stationed at Fort Union from 1851-1856.  Kozlowski mustered out in 1858 and settled down on 600 acres of land alongside a plentiful spring on the Santa Fe Trail and also began a business of catering to travelers – featuring a good meal prepared by his wife, often fresh trout from the Pecos River.  The hostelry, sometimes referred to as Gray's Ranch by the soldiers, was later expanded to encompass a stage station for the Barlow and Sanderson line.
             
According to the Legends of America website,  “Union troops came into contact with a Confederate force of 200-300 Texans under the command of Major Charles L. Pyron, who were encamped at Johnson’s Ranch, at one end of the pass. [Under orders from Colonel Slough] Union Major John M. Chivington led more than 400 soldiers on the morning of [March] 26th in an attack, capturing some Confederate advance troops before finding the main force behind them.  Chivington advanced on them, but their artillery fire threw him back. He regrouped, split his force to the two sides of the pass, caught the Rebels in crossfire, and soon forced them to retire.
             
“Pyron and his men retreated about a mile and a half to a narrow section of the pass and formed a defensive line before Chivington’s men appeared. The Union troops then flanked Pyron’s men again, firing heavily into their ranks. When the Confederates fled again, the Union cavalry charged, capturing the Confederate rearguard. Chivington then retired and went into camp at Kozlowski’s Ranch. No fighting occurred the next day [March 27] as reinforcements arrived for both sides. Lieutenant Colonel William R. Scurry’s troops swelled the Rebel ranks to about 1,100 while Union Colonel John P. Slough arrived with about 900 men.
             
“Both Slough and Scurry decided to attack early on March 28th. As Scurry advanced down the canyon, he saw the Union forces approaching, so he established a battle line, including his dismounted cavalry. Slough hit them before 11:00 am. The Confederates held their ground and then attacked and counterattacked throughout the afternoon. The fighting then ended as Slough retired first to Pigeon’s Ranch and then to Kozlowski’s Ranch.”
             
Scurry left the field believing that he had won the battle – which at that point he had.  However unbeknownst to him a detachment led by Major Chivington and guided through the unfamiliar Glorieta Pass terrain by Lt. Col. Manuel Chaves of the New Mexico volunteers secretly rappelled down a mountain overlooking Johnson’s Ranch wherein the remaining Confederate supplies and animals were sequestered. Chivington’s sharpshooters picked off most of the small number of guards.   Union forces then destroyed the entire storehouse of food and weapons (driving spikes into the touch holes of the cannon to prevent their further use), and ran off the horses and mules.
             
“Facing defeat and starvation, Sibley and his men began their retreat to Texas. They were pursued all of the way to Fort Craig by Canby’s troops, but, finally slipped from the Federals by a circuitous route. Nearly dead of thirst and starvation, 1,700 Confederate survivors eventually reached safety in El Paso, Texas on May 4th.”
             
Time and progress have replaced most of the battlefield with roads and thick pinyon juniper woods.  On our tour however we were still able to pull off the road at the keys points of the battle – Johnson’, Pigeon’s and Kozlowski’s Ranches – get a sense of the physical surroundings and be able to picture the action in spite of the noise and backdrafts of nearby semis, cars, and motorcycles.  We also walked part of the Glorieta Battlefield Trail, a 2.3 mile loop that brought us to “Artillery Hill” from where the Union directed fire on the third day of battle, and to a vantage point from which we could look down upon Pigeon’s Farm and “Sharpshooter’s Hill” where Slough established his battle headquarters from which he was driven when the Confederates attacked from the one direction the Union was not guarding, even though its was by far the easiest way up the mountain. 
             
Our tour ended at the site of Johnson’s Ranch – the site of Chivington’s  destruction of the Confederate supplies, equipment, and horses, which effectively ended southern combat activities in New Mexico.  By the end of July, 1862 all Confederate troops had left the territory, never to attempt a return visit.
             
Marsha and I moved to northern New Mexico from Wethersfield, Connecticut – a place from which most people retire to “The South” – North Carolina, Florida, etc.  One of the principal reasons for our choice, in addition to the lack of humidity and hurricanes, was the unique ambiance of Santa Fe.  Which, but for the unguarded Confederate supplies at Johnson’s Ranch, might not have been.