Friday, March 30, 2012

New Mexico Indian Ruins



decorative line
About thirty miles to the south-east of the city of Santa Fé, and in the western sections of the district of San Miguel (New Mexico), the upper course of the Rio Pecos traverses a broad valley, extending in width from east to west about six or eight miles, and in length from north-west to south-east from twenty to twenty-five. Its boundaries are,—on the north and north-east, the Sierra de Santa Fé, and the Sierra de Santa Bárbara, or rather their southern spurs; on the west a highmesa or table land, extending nearly parallel to the river until opposite or south of the peak of Bernal; on the east, the Sierra de Tecolote. The altitude of this valley is on an average not less than six thousand three hundred feet, while themesa on the right bank of the river rises abruptly to nearly two thousand feet higher; the Tecolote chain is certainly not much lower, if any; and the summits of the high Sierras in the north rise to over ten thousand feet at least.p. 38
The Rio Pecos (which empties into the Rio Grande fully five degrees more to the south, in the State of Texas) hugs, in the upper part of the valley, closely to the mountains of Tecolote, and thence runs almost directly north and south. The highmesa opposite, known as the Mesa de Pecos, sweeps around in huge semicircles, but in a general direction from north-west to south-east. The upper part of the valley, therefore, forms a triangle, whose apex, at the south, would be near San José: whereas its base-line at the north might be indicated as from the Plaza de Pecos to Baughl's Sidings; or rather from the Rio Pecos, east of the town, to the foot of the mesa on the west, a length of over six miles. Nearly in the centre of this triangle, two miles west of the river, and one and a half miles from Baughl's, there rises a narrow, semicircular cliff ormesilla, over the bed of a stream known as the Arroyo de Pecos.] The southern end of this tabular cliff (its highest point as well as its most sunny slope) is covered with very extensive ruins, representing, as I shall hereafter explain, three distinct kinds of occupation of the place by man. These ruins are known under the name of the Old Pueblo of Pecos.
The tourist who, in order to reach Santa Fé from the north, takes the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fé Railroad at La Junta, Colorado,—fascinated as he becomes by the beauty as well as by the novelty of the landscape, while running parallel with the great Sierra Madre, after he has traversed the Ratonis at daybreak,—enters a still more weird country in the afternoon. The Rio Pecos is crossed just beyond Bernal, and thence on he speeds towards the west and north: to the left, the towering Mesa de Pecos, darkp. 39 pines clambering up its steep sides; to the right, the broad valley, scooped out, so to say, between the mesa and the Tecolote ridge. It is dotted with green patches and black clusters of cedar and pine shooting out of the red and rocky soil. Scarcely a house is visible, for the casitas of adobe and wood nestle mostly in sheltered nooks. Beyond Baughl's, the ruins first strike his view; the red walls of the church stand boldly out on the barren mesilla; and to the north of it there are two low brown ridges, the remnants of the Indian houses. The bleak summits of the high northern chain seem to rise in height as he advances; even the distant Trout mountains (Sierra de la Trucha) loom up solemnly towards the head-waters of the Pecos. About Glorieta the vale disappears, and through the shaggy crests of the Cañon del Apache, which overlooks the track in awful proximity, he sallies out upon the central plain of northern New Mexico, six thousand eight hundred feet above the sea-level. To the south-west the picturesque Sandia mountains;[90] to the west, far off, the Heights of Jemez and the Sierra del Valle, bound the level and apparently barren table-land. An hour more of fearfully rapid transit with astonishing curves, and, at sunset, he lands at La Villa Real de Santa-Fé.
Starting back from Santa Fé towards Pecos on a dry, sandy wagon-road, we lose sight of the table-land and its environing mountain-chain, when turning into the ridges east of Manzanares. Vegetation, which has been remarkably stunted until now, improves in appearance. However rocky the slopes are, tall pines grow on them sparsely: the Encina appears inp. 40thickets; Opuntia arborescens bristles dangerously as a large shrub; mammillary cactuses hide in the sand; even an occasional patch of Indian corn is found in the valleys. It is stunted in growth,[91] flowering as late as the last days of the month of August, and poorly cultivated. The few adobe buildings are mostly recent. Over a high granitic ridge, grown over with piñon (all the trees inclined towards the north-east by the fierce winds that blow along its summit), and from which the Sierra de Sandia for the last time appears, we plunge into a deep valley, emptying into the Cañoncito, and thence follow the railroad track again through a deep gorge and pleasant bottom, overgrown with pines and cedars, past Glorieta to Baughl's.[92] It required all the skill and firmness of my friend and companion, Mr. J. D. C. Thurston, of the Indian Bureau at Santa Fé, to pilot our vehicle over the steep and rocky ledges. From Baughl's, where I took quarters at the temporary boarding-house of Mrs. Root (to whose kindness and motherly solicitude I owe a tribute of sincere gratitude), a good road leads to the east and south-east along the Arroyo de Pecos. In a direct line the distance p. 41to the ruins is but a mile and a half; but after nearing the banks of the stream (which there are grassy levels), one is kept at a distance from it by deep parallel gulches. So we have to follow the arroyo downwards, keeping about a quarter of a mile to the west of it, till, south of the old church itself, the road at last crosses the wide and gravelly bed, in which a fillet of clear water is running. Then we ascend a gradual slope of sandy and micaceous soil, thinly covered by tufts of grama; a wide, circular depression strikes our eye; beyond it flat mounds of scarcely 0.50 m.—20 in.—elevation are covered extensively with scattered and broken stones. Further on distinct foundations appear, rectangles enclosed by, or founded originally upon, thick walls of stone, sunk into the ground and much worn,—sometimes divided into small compartments, again forming large enclosures. To the south a conspicuous, though small, mound is visible. Immediately before us, due north, are distinct though broken walls of stones; and above them, on a broad terrace of red earth, completely shutting off the mesilla or tabulated cliff, on which the Indian houses stand, there arises the massive former Catholic temple of Pecos.
The building forms a rectangle, about 46 m.—150 ft.—long, from east to west, and 18 m.—60 ft.—from north to south. The entrance was to the west, the eastern wall being still solid and standing, Fig. 2, gives an idea of its form: á aare gateways, each capped by a heavy lintel of hewn cedar; b, carved beam of wood across.
The roof of the building is gone, and on the south side a part of the walls themselves are reduced to a few metres elevation. The church may originally have been not less than 10 m.—33 ft.—perhaps higher. It had, according to tradition, but one belfry and a single bell,—a very large one at that. The Indians carried it off, it is said, to the top of thep. 42 mesa, where it broke. It is certain that a very large bell, of which I saw one fragment, now in possession of Mr. E. K. Walters, of Pecos, was found on the western slope of the Mesa de Pecos, about three miles from its eastern rim, in a cañada of the Ojo de Vacas stream, towards San Cristóbal. Mr. Thomas Munn, of Baughl's, took the pains of piloting me a whole day (6th of September) through the wilderness of the mesa, and showing me the place where this interesting relic was finally deposited. I shall return to this by and by.
Mrs. Kozlowski (wife of a Polish gentleman, living two miles south on the arroyo) informed me that in 1858, when she came to her present home with her husband, the roof of the church was still in existence. Her husband tore it down, and used it for building out-houses; he also attempted to dig out the corner-stone, but failed. In general, the vandalism committed in this venerable relic of antiquity defies all description. It is only equalled by the foolishness of such as, having no other means to secure immortality, have cut out the ornaments from the sculptured beams in order to obtain a surface suitable to carve their euphonious names. All the beams of the old structure are quaintly, but still not tastelessly, carved; there was, as is shown in., much scroll-work terminating them. Most of this was taken away, chipped into uncouth boxes, and sold, to be scattered everywhere. Not content with this, treasure-hunters, inconsiderate amateurs, have recklessly and ruthlessly disturbed the abodes of the dead. "After becoming Christians," said to me Sr. Mariano Ruiz, the only remaining 'son of the tribe' of Pecos, still settled near to its site, "they buried their dead within the church." These dead have been dug out regardless of their position relative to the walls of the building, and their remains have been scattered over the surface, to become the prey of relic-hunters. The Roman Catholic Archbishop p. 43of New Mexico has finally stopped such abuses by asserting his title of ownership; but it was far too late. It cannot be denied, besides, that his concession to Kozlowski to use some of the timber for his own purposes was subsequently interpreted by others in a manner highly prejudicial to the preservation of the structure.
What alone has saved the old church of Pecos from utter ruin has been its solid mode of construction. Entirely of adobe, its walls have an average thickness of 1.5 m.—5 ft. The adobe is made like that now used, wheat-straw entering into it occasionally; but it also contains small fragments of obsidian,—minute chips of that material and broken pottery. This makes it evident that the soil for its construction must have been gathered somewhere near the mesilla; and the suspicion is very strong on my part that it was the right bank of the arroyo which furnished the material.It is self-evident that the grounds which were used for that purpose must have antedated, in point of occupation, the date of the construction of the church by a very long period. I have measured all the adobe bricks of the church that are within easy reach, at various places, and found them alike. They all measure .55 m. × .28 m.—22 in. × 11 in.—and .08 m.—3 in.—in thickness. They are laid as shown in ., Fig. 4.
The mortar is, as the specimen sent by me will prove, of the same composition as the brick itself.
The regularity with which these courses are laid is veryp. 44 striking. The timbers, besides, are all well squared; the ornaments, scrolls, and friezes are quaint, but not uncouth; there is a deficiency in workmanship, but great purity in outline and in design.
To the south of the old church, at a distance of 4 m.—13 ft.—there is another adobe wall, rising in places a few metres above the soil; which wall, with that of the church, seems to have formed a covered passage-way. Adjoining it is a rectangular terrace of red earth, extending out to the west as far as the church front. A valuable record of the manner in which this terrace was occupied is preserved to us in the drawing of the Pecos church given by Lieutenant W. H. Emory in 1846. It appears that south of the church there was a convent; and this is stated also by Sr. Ruiz. In fact, the walls, whether enclosures or buildings, which appear to have adjoined the church, extend south from it 74 m.—250 ft. , Fig. 2, gives an idea of their relative position, etc.: c is 4 m.—13 ft.—wide; d is 21 m. × 46 m.—70 ft. × 156 ft.; e is 25 m. × 46 m.—82 ft. × 150 ft.; f is 24 m. × 46 m.—78 ft. × 150 ft.
The divisions are not strictly marked, and I forbear giving any lengths, since there is great uncertainty about them.
The foundation walls, where visible, are generally about 0.60 m. to 0.75 m.—23 in. to 30 in.—wide, and composed of three rows of stones, set lengthwise, selected for size, and probably broken to fit.[95]