A Wind In The Hills
On this day it was soooo windy. Wind that rips the car door out of your hand and chokes you when you open your mouth to speak. Wind that makes your eyes crusty. You know... New Mexico wind.
Santo Nino Cemetery in Carnuel, is located off I-40 (Route 66) in the canyon that separates Albuquerque from the east mountains. It includes 259 grave sites, some dating back to the 1800's. I don't believe this cemetery is still in use but it is certainly still watched over by the local residents of Carnuel.
Should you decide to visit Santo Nino Cemetery, arrive quietly, tread lightly, take your photos (and nothing else) and head on down the hill to get some pizza.
As a matter of practicality, do spirits get blown around by the wind?
Click here to view my other posts about cemeteries.
The Ojito Wilderness
The Ojito Wilderness in New Mexico is an 11,000 acre site located north of Bernalillo, around the vicinity of San Ysidro. It is a BLM owned public open space full of desert jewels such as petrified wood, rare plant species, dry river beds, ancient petroglyphs, hoodoos and a generally alien landscape.
Some things to be aware of when visiting Ojito is that it is closed to motorized vehicles. I don't recall there being any proper parking lots and it is in no way ADA accessible. There are no bathrooms, water fountains, tour guides or snack bars. What there is is wind and lots of it. If you come here, be prepared to pack in anything you might need and carry it all out too. The desert doesn't want baby wipes and beer bottles so, as always, leave only footprints and take only photographs.
No one remembers the Trading Post
I guess that's why it closed, you know, because no one knew it was there. I found plenty of sites with information about the Ojito Wilderness but I couldn't find even one mention of this abandoned trading post that once sat out in the middle of it all.
These photos were recovered from my (previously missing) archives. They were shot in 2006. I know the trading post was still there for at least another five or six years but I heard a rumor that it had since fallen down - either by itself or with the help of bulldozers. With that in mind, these are likely the last photos of this forgotten place.
The dragonfly pictured below was stuck to the window in the above photo. I do recall that on a subsequent trip, the window in question had been broken thus marking this image as a one of a kind moment in time. And for the record, the dragonfly was already dead when I found it, I did not harm the dragonfly for the sake of staging a weird photo (because I would never do that!).
The Last Page
The photo above is one of my all-time favorite images. In fact, there is a large framed print of it hanging front and center in my living room so the three people that come to my house can say, "Wow, that's a great photo!"
Believe it or not, I didn't stage this photo. In the back room of the trading post was an over turned stove. Sitting on the stove was a copy of The Red Badge Of Courage that was well past it's prime. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it is always windy in the Ojito Wilderness. So all I did was turn the book slightly so that the draft coming in through the broken window and exiting the missing door would blow the book open. Then I set myself up across the room with a telephoto lens and a slow shutter speed and waited for the wind to make the book do just the right thing, which it did... eventually. Good things come to patient photographers.
To see my posts about other Abandoned Places, click here.
Directions To The Ojito Wilderness
To reach the Ojito Wilderness, start in Bernalillo and travel north on U.S. 550 for about 21 miles. Then turn left (west) on Cabezon Road (County Road 906). After approx. 9 & 1/4 miles there should be a sign for the Ojito Wilderness. Continue for another 3/4 mile and start looking for some kind of parking area. There should be two trail heads here; the Seismosaurus Trailhead and the Hoodoo Trailhead. I honestly have no idea which of these trails might lead to where the trading post is (or was). What I remember doing was driving until a sandy dry river bed forced us to park the vehicle for fear of getting stuck and then walking across the river bed to the trading post. That being said, even if the trading post is no longer standing, there is still plenty of cool stuff to see and I think a hiker wouldn't be disappointed with either trail.
What's up with the diner booths?
These photos were shot on September 15, 2019
This abandoned house is on NM 55 is just a few miles south of Mountainair. If you make it all the way to Gran Quivira, you passed it about 20 minutes ago. Every room in this house, including the back hallway, is packed with overturned furniture. The desk and chair pictured below are about the only things sitting right side up. The other rooms of the house were very dark and piled high with all kinds of crazy stuff. One room had about seven mattresses in it. Here in the main room, there are what appears to be diner booths that are tossed about willy-nilly like the tornado version of Joanna Gaines arranged the furniture.
If you come here, wear boots and don't touch anything. Hantavirus is real, y'all.
Not Exactly Here Or There
These photos were shot on September 15, 2019
Best I can figure, this abandoned school house is considered to be in the town of Center Point, but there is no town; just this school and the spot where a shack was across the street. Claunch is nearby, but it's not in Claunch and it's certainly not in Mountainair. The school was apparently operational in the 1940's but, from the looks of it, probably abandoned shortly thereafter. And here it sits, watching the tourists drive by on their way to Gran Quivira.
Tech Specs: As part of an ongoing experiment to make various cameras perform in ways that mother nature never intended, all of these photos were shot with a Canon Powershot Elph 360 (and, yes, it is the purple one) and edited with Fotor.
A Treasure From The Archives
Included in my recently discovered treasure trove of lost images was this trip to Cuervo, New Mexico in September of 2005. The photos were unedited so, to match the look of my more recent ghost town work, I transferred the images to my phone and edited them with Snapseed. I'm pretty sure I shot these with a first generation Canon Digital Rebel and the 18-55mm kit lens that came with it.
One Day They All Left
While visiting Cuervo, you expect to see the word "Croatoan" carved in a tree. It's like the inhabitants of the town all went on an ill fated field trip. Many of the houses are still furnished and even the hair salon looks ready for business... sorta. Do keep in mind that this was in 2005, there's no telling what is or isn't there now.
A Bit Of History
Cuervo was founded in 1901 when the railroad came through. In 1910 the surrounding land was opened to cattle ranching and this gave more people a reason to live there. In the 1940's, when Route 66 came to town, the population peaked at over 300. Despite a rapidly dwindling population, Cuervo managed to keep it's own post office until September 10, 2011 but it does still have it's own zip code of 88417.
Today, Cuervo is considered an unincorporated community. It is located roughly 17 miles east of Santa Rosa off I-40. If you go there, don't go alone. There are still a few observant locals living in the hills above and they are most certainly aware of any visitors to the ghost town. In fact, the last time I was there (circa 2011) my group was confronted by a local with a rifle. After chatting with him for awhile, he turned out to be friendly but nonetheless you wouldn't want to be there alone. Additionally, there are plenty of things like uncovered wells that are overgrown with weeds and many ways to get hurt. Don't go ghost town exploring alone, it's just not a good idea. And, as always, take only photos and leave only footprints.
I am DeAnna Vincent, fine art and portrait photographer in Los Lunas, New Mexico. These are the photos from my everyday adventures.