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.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Spanish Colonial Drip Gardening

As newcomers, we have been told several times that in Santa Fe, , if you want to get something done you’ve probably got to know somebody who knows somebody.  And now we have learned that if you want to find out about the real dirt in town you absolutely, definitely need to know someone who knows someone.  And now we do.
While I am really enjoying experiencing new plants, grown in a new environment, in new ways – I have at the same time been missing the joy of gardening in real soil – something friable that I could run my fingers through, as opposed to the hardpan caliche that I can barely get my fork-tongued weed-digging tool into.  But now my dirt drought may be over.
El Rancho de las Golindrinas, the Living History Museum where Marsha and I are volunteering, has, of all things, a drip irrigation garden, which is located in one of the not-open-to-the-public parts of the 200 acre property along with a cold frame for starting seeds, and small fledgling “cider apple” tree orchard – two of which do not fit in at all well with the Spanish Colonial period being interpreted at the museum.
And it turns out that Marsha had a meeting with J, the Curator of Agriculture at las Golondrinas, to inventory what was growing the museum’s herb garden, which a group of us are trying to reestablish from its current semi-dormant condition.  And serendipitously  twelve rows in the drip garden needed to be hoed immediately for subsequent planting.
Las Golondrinas does not open until June so the grounds were empty of people as the three of us took the ten minute walk on the dirt trail behind the partially reconstructed 18th century Spanish Colonial adobe home in the Golondrinas Placita; past the 19th century Baca House; down the hill next to the Hide Tanning Area; across the Acequia Madre (aka “Mother Ditch”, which provides water to the historically maintained area and was running on one of the museum’s designated use days); turned left past the Carpenter Shop as we glanced at the deserted Las Milpas (“The Fields”, which later in the season would show traditional crops); and alongside the football field sized garden area – about one-third of which was currently being drip irrigated.

 After a quick tour of the cold frame and orchard – and a rapid run through of what I was to do, Marsha and J headed up to the mid-1800 Sierra Village – fifteen minutes away and the site of the herb garden – to catalogue what was coming to life in that plot. While I set to work on digging up the earth and thinning out the weeds and such that had taken root in the area alongside each side of the drip tubes.
My weapons du jour (actually “del día”) were (1) an old slightly rusted (but probably not Spanish Colonial) long hoe whose blade had one hole in each side – a type of implement known, according to my after the fact Internet searches, as a mortar hoe (“the 2 holes situated in the blade enable you to efficiently mix cement before leveling it”)  – (2) plus the basic plastic lawn rake that everyone in our old suburban Connecticut town had at least two of.  The drill was to weed out the bad guys and rake them into little piles, which would then be picked up by an unidentified person.
As it has been just about every day since we moved out here one year ago it was a cloudless, sunny day – with a slight breeze that gusted uncomfortably several times while I was working.  And I was alone, which I became fully aware of about five minutes into my project when the aforementioned wind tried to wrest my straw hat from my head and, as I grabbed the top to prevent its flight, glanced up to see nothing but dry land, green Cottonwood trees, and the orchard. I was wearing a black short sleeve tee shirt, chino cargo pants, running shoes, and a Silver Creek Golf Course straw hat.   But I could easily imagine looking down from above and seeing a tall, thin, breeches-clad, linen-shirted, solitary 18th century gardener toiling away in his fields with his rusted weeding tool.

 Sixty minutes later, just as I was wishing the Angels would come and help me with my work as, according to the hagiography, they had for Saint Isidore the patronsaint of farmers, Marsha and J appeared on the horizon – not to take over my workload so that I could spend more time at church, but to tell me it was time to head back home.
On our way back to the hill we noticed a man with his shovel directing the waters from the acequia into the furrowed rows of Las Milpas – also contemporaneously clothed – also a Spanish Colonial garden worker in spirit.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Brief History of New Mexican Cerveza

A Brief History of New Mexican Cerveza
A few weeks ago the group of us who are working to reestablish the herb garden at El Rancho de Las Golindrinas were tossing around ideas for types of plants and chatting about their historical, medical or culinary uses.  Someone brought up the question of when beer arrived in New Mexico.  We all agreed that the yeast-fermented, malt-flavored, alcoholic drink seemed to be pretty much a worldwide food staple.  But it obviously didn’t spontaneously come to life everywhere at the same time.   Did it come with the Spanish Colonialist beginning in the late 1500s?  Was it the Mexicans who brought it after they achieved independence from their southern European conquerors in 1821?   The Americans when New Mexico became an U.S. Territory in 1848?  Or was it possibly here “pre-contact”, as the period of time prior to non-native boots on the ground is known.
Or maybe even a little bit of all of the above.

Spain – Abundant and Inexpensive Wine

Beer has been in Spain for quite a while – and apparently Rome.  The writings of Pliny the Elder  (23 AD to 79 AD), the Roman philosopher and author (who coincidentally has an American beer named after him) indicate that he himself did not care for the brewski from Hispania, which he also felt the Iberians themselves were drinking way too much of.  However it is uncertain from whence or when this fermented beverage arrived in Spain – whether it was introduced into the country by the Greeks or Phoenicians who often traded in the southern part of España – or perhaps by some Libyan soldiers who brought it with them – or some other way.
In any event Spanish beer went largely unnoticed throughout Europe until Charles V (aka Carlos Quinto) arrived in the country from Flanders in 1516.  (He later would become Holy Roman Emperor from 1519-1558 while remaining King of Spain until 1556.) Charles had acquired an affinity for the malt beverage in Flanders, which, unlike his new home country, was not a wine producer.  Finding nothing local to his liking he imported that with which he was familiar, and hired a central European brew master to establish and run a small beer factory located in a nearby monastery.
But the Spanish people hated Carlos V and, possibly by extension, his favorite drink – so it too quickly fell by the popular wayside.  And the brews of his son and successor Philip II did not fair much better – even though he commanded the reestablishment of beer production on the Manzanares River in central Spain.  Nonetheless, despite the lack of popularity within both the country’s commoners and gentry alike, beer continued to be brewed in varying quantities.  Which disfavor was due, most likely, to the fact that wine in Spain was abundant, good and inexpensive.
Beginning in 1611 more factories were opened in Madrid – all named after their owners, all of whom were Flemish, Alsatian or German – anything but Spanish.  Still, not until the beginning of the 20th century did the beverage become popular enough for large factories such as Mahou (1890); Águila (1900); Cruz del Campo (today called Cruzcampo) (1904); and Damm (1910) to achieve some degree of success. 
 It took until the 1960s for beer to finally became less expensive than wine and take over as the preferred drink of the summer.  This trend was also helped by the advent of the small glass of beer known as a “caña”, which allows present day Spaniards to hop from one bar to another for an evening of “Cañas y tapas.”

Mexico – Supply Side Economics and Independence
Before the Spanish conquest of Mexico there were many local fermented beverages in that country– the best known being “pulque”, made from the sap of the maguey or agave plant and “tesgüino” or “izquiate”, a light, amber-colored corn-based liquid which is whisked before drinking.   The soldiers of Hernán Cortés likely produced the first barley beer in Mexico during his 1518 expedition.  But a lack of supplies abruptly ended that self-help enterprise.
The first official license (“concession”) to brew European-style beer in Mexico was granted to Alfonso de Herrero in 1543 or 1544.  The brewery was likely located either south of Mexico City (where Metro Portales is today) or in Amecameca.  The factory struggled to get started due to a lack of supplies, which in turn drove up its price – and from competition by traditional local, less expensive drinks.  It did catch on though with colonial officials – however heavy taxation and regulations from the mother country, which were designed to force the colonies to import commodities from Europe, eventually drove de Herrero’s and other breweries out of business.  As in Spain however, Mexican beer production never totally stopped, and just prior to the War of Independence beer consumption was well established enough to prompt disputes over who was legally entitled to produce it.   Two Englishmen, Gillons and Mairet, and a pair of Mexicans Miguel Ramos Arizpe and Justino Tuallion all claimed exclusive rights to produce beer in Mexico.   When the war ended the beer put out by the Tuallion brewery proved to be the most popular.
After independence the Spanish restrictions were lifted – and the industry was allowed to develop.  In 1845, a barley beer flavored with piloncillo (unrefined whole cane sugar) was introduced under the names “Pila Seca” and “La Candelaria” by Swiss brewer Bernhard Boldgard and Bavarian Federico Herzog respectively.  However the influx of German immigrants in the second half of the nineteenth century and the short-lived Second Mexican Empire headed by Emperor Maximilian I of the House of Habsburg was what truly began the Mexican brewing industry.  The Emperor brought in his own brew master to produce Vienna-style dark beers for his boss – an influence that can be seen today in the popular Negra Modelo and Dos Equis Amber brands.
This was followed over the next fifty years by the establishment of a large number of breweries (“cervecerías”) in various parts of the country, among them: Cruz Blanca in Mexico City by Emil Dercher in 1869 (which produced the first lager); Yucateca by José Ponce Solis in Mérida in 1869 (with German equipment and a German brewer); and the Cervecería Chihuahua by Juan Terrazas in Chihuahua in 1896.
The arrival of the Mexican railroad system at the end of the nineteenth century brought good news – the import of machinery and malt from the United States – and not so good news – U.S. produced beer.  By 1890, the first industrial-size cervecería, Cuauhtémoc, was built in Monterrey – followed four years later, by Moctezuma in Orizaba.  Corona, the best-known and best-selling Mexican beer in the U.S. began in 1925 at Cervecería Modelo in Mexico City, with exports to the United States beginning in 1933.
So did either the Spanish or Mexicans introduce any of their beers into New Mexico?  Or was it already here, pre-contact?

Near Beer and Boomtown Breweries
The Franciscan Monks who followed Don Juan de Oñate and the Spanish Colonists in 1598 into the upper valleys of the Rio Grande had need of sacramental wine to be used in their holy masses.  The nearest source was several months’ travel away.  So In 1629, Franciscan friar García de Zúñiga and Capuchín monk Antonio de Arteaga planted the first wine grapes in the Río Grande valley of southern New Mexico.  By the year 1880, grapes were grown on over 3,000 acres, and New Mexico Territory wineries were producing over 1,000,000 US gallons of wine – fifth in the United States. That year the Socorro (New Mexican) Bulletin predicted, "We see in the present attention given to grape culture, an important and growing industry which, in a few years, will assume proportions of no ordinary nature."
But was this The Land of Enchantment’s first intoxicating beverage?
"There’s been an artificial construct among archeologists working in New Mexico that no one had alcohol here until the Spanish brought grapes and wine. That’s so counter-intuitive. It doesn’t make sense to me as a social scientist that New Mexico would have been an island in pre-Columbian times," wrote botanical archaeologist.
Glenna Dean.
Early tribes in Mexico and Arizona are known to have produced a weak (low alcohol content) beer called “tiswin” from fermented corn.  But no evidence of this brewing had been found in The Land of Enchantment until Dr. Dean, with the help of Sandia Laboratories, discovered bits of alcohol residue typical of beer production on several 800-year-old potsherds that had been found in ancient New Mexico pueblos.
Glenna Dean warns, “It’s always possible that corn fermented in a pot without the intent of the owner."  But still…
My Internet searches for the “history of beer in America” all produced results that tell of the history of that beverage in Colonial East Coast America.  This Brit-centric view of the past will not of course be a shock to any New Mexican who has ever tried to investigate their home state’s past.  So just to tell THAT story – according to beeradvocate.com:
“1607  First shipment of beer arrives in the Virginia colony from England.
“1609  American "Help Wanted" advertisements appear in London seeking brewers for the Virginia Colony.
“1612  Adrian Block & Hans Christiansen establish the first known brewery in the New World on the southern tip of New Amsterdam (Manhattan).”
The list of landmark beer events continues – but nowhere do the words “Spain” or “Mexico” (old or New) appear.  However beginning in the 1800s and extending mostly throughout the latter part of that century some of New Mexico’s own landmark events conspired to draw the map of the territory’s first beer trail.  Fabled mines such as Bridal Chamber, Confidence, Little Hell, Calamity Jane, Hardscrabble, Mystic Lode, North Homestake, Little Fanny, and Spanish Bar drew thousands of thirsty prospectors to New Mexico in search of the mother lode and instant wealth.  Most were Anglo settlers who came from parts of the country where beer was available.  And at the end of the day they were used to having a tall cool one. 
But apparently not all of them.  The “New Mexico Nomad” website reports, “These communities varied in character. Some set the precedent for the bawdy old west mythos of brothels, gamblers, saloons and shootouts. Some were quiet, calm communities of law abiding, god-fearing folk. For example, Kingston and Chloride [3,000 people, 8 saloons] were party towns, with an impressive ratio of saloons to citizens and a dearth of chapels, whereas Winston was established by people who thought Chloride was unruly so they set up their own town down the canyon.”
There were however enough “wet” towns to support a small, burgeoning industry.  Jon C. Scott writes in “New Mexico Beer”, “Although Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas, all towns along the Santa Fe Trail and later the railroads, had their share of breweries, many others operated in places that are now ghost towns, or at best tiny villages.  Mogollon, Bland, Elizabethtown, Georgetown, Kingston, and Sapello were boomtowns, built during the silver, and to a lesser extent, gold rushes in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and disappearing or dwindling to a few dozen people when the boom ended.”  (Sapello was also the original site of El Molino Grande (The Big Mill) at El Rancho de las Golondrinas.)
These breweries did not last for a long time – thirteen of them for three or less years, and four of them for a single annum.  When the mines closed so did they.  And, with the arrival of the railroads, beer was now being shipped into the region from other parts of the country cutting in to the rest of the local market.
The vast majority of these beer factories were owned and/or operated by German or German trained brew masters – the same ethnic group that were establishing the American Midwest based brands that would come to dominate the industry into the twenty-first century with names such as Pabst, Schlitz, Strohs, Anheuser-Busch, and (Marsha’s and my personal favorite) Yuengling – America’s Oldest Brewery begun when David G. Yuengling migrated from Wuerttemberg Germany to the coal-mining town of Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
According to Jon C. Scott, the first actual record of a brewery was in Sante Fe around 1855.  A flood destroyed the business and I was unable to find its name.  Among the known early New Mexico beer producers were the Illinois Brewing Company (1882–1918) in Socorro, a liquor wholesaler that moved into brewing in the mid-1880s; and the Southwestern Brewery and Ice Company (1888–1918) in Albuquerque maker of the well-known Glorieta brand. Both never resumed beer production after prohibition but continued selling ice and soda.
Improved transportation and distribution systems – plus lower production costs – brought the midwestern beers to New Mexico in the early 1900s, basically closing down the territory/state’s producers.  And Coors, a Colorado beer began selling in New Mexico, becoming the state’s de facto “local” beer.
Then, in 1988 the Santa Fe Brewing Company became the first New Mexico brewery to open since 1909 – to be followed by a multitude of local producers including Bosque, Broken Bottle, Chama River, Marble and Tractor.

I think I should stop here before the topic gets stale – nothing is worse than a flat beer.  It is time instead to reconvene the herb garden restoration quintet for another planning session – this time though perhaps accompanied by an ice cold “Twisted Root” from Santa Fe Brewery, or a nicely chilled “Sauvage Rosé” from Albuquerque’s Gruet winery.  Or maybe even some home-brewed tiswin fermented in the garage of local Paleo-Indian.
Whatever our beverage, let’s have a toast – “To history, and to beer’s part in it!”


“New Mexico Beer: A History of Brewing in the Land of Enchantment”, Jon C. Scott, American Palate, 2014