Pueblos Of The Salinas Valley
The Salinas Valley Pueblo Ruins are just a few of the many ancient architectural sites that New Mexico has to offer. They are evidence of the communities that lived there 300 years ago. Before these pueblos were abandoned in the 1670's, Pueblo Indians had created a stable agricultural society. Two ancient southwestern cultures, the Anasazi and the Mogollon, overlapped in the Salinas Valley to produce the later societies of Abo, Quarai, and Gran Quivira. These groups had roots as far back as 7000 years and were preceded by nomadic people who may have arrived as early as 20,000 years ago.
Gran Quivira is by far the largest, and possibly the oldest, of the Salinas Pueblo Mission sites. The site, also known as Las Humanas, includes two churches, a cemetery, several kivas, and numerous housing structures with tiny rooms that give new meaning to the term "studio apartment". In addition to all of this, while walking through the site it is obvious that there is at least as many un-excavated areas as there are excavated areas.
Due to it's remote location, Gran Quivira also seems to be the least visited of the three sites. When Johnpaul and I were here, we only saw one other small group of visitors. To get there, go to Mountainair and then drive south on NM55 for about 45 minutes. It's a ways out in the middle of nowhere but absolutely worth the drive, plus you could stop for lunch at the Shaffer Hotel in Mountainair (which has been renovated and is once again open for business) on your way home!
To view my posts from the other Salinas Pueblo Mission Ruins click here.
Abandoned in the mid-1670's, the Abo ruins sat undisturbed for nearly two hundred years until they were rediscovered by Major J.H. Carleton on a stormy evening in 1853. If you've spent any time in New Mexico, you know exactly what Carleton meant when he wrote that, "the cold wind... appeared to roar and howl through the roofless pile like an angry demon."
Similar to the other Salinas Pueblos, Abo was already a thriving community prior to the Spanish showing up and forcing the inhabitants to build giant churches. The church at Abo was completed in the late 1620's.
According to the brochure,Gran Quivira was the largest of the Salinas Pueblos but Abo must run a close second because it too is massive in size. While the church atQuarai takes your breath away, I believe that it and the entire site are quite a bit smaller than Abo. Along with the church, the Abo site has expansive excavated ruins and numerous mounds of earth that are obviously un-excavated ruins.
Eventually a perfect storm of problems including drought, famine, and the Apache raids forced the inhabitants of the Abo to leave their home and assimilate into neighboring communities along the Rio Grande. By 1678, Abo was abandoned.
To see my posts from the other Salinas Pueblo Mission Ruins, click here.
Ruins From A More Recent Time
As soon as you turn off the highway onto the road that goes to Abo, there are two little abandoned houses. Thinking that perhaps it had been a ranger station, I only photographed the smaller one because it was more easily accessible.
To my surprise, when I posted the photos on Facebook, someone I went to college with said the houses belonged to his grandparents and that the little one was his grandmother's art workshop. He even had a photo of the family standing out front in the 1980's. How cool is that?
It's a small, small world.
All photos shot with Motorola Moto X4 and edited with Snapseed.
Abandoned For 350 Years
The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument in New Mexico consists of three sites: Quarai, Abo, and Gran Quivira. Quarai and Abo are fairly close together and both are within easy driving distance of the town of Mountainair while the Gran Quivera site is farther south on HWY 55.
I've always felt a special affinity for Quarai. It's easy to see why people would've wanted to live in this area. The ruins are surrounded by lush grass, wild roses, and towering Cottonwood trees (that are probably as old as the ruins). Beyond that the landscape gives way to beautiful desert mountains that provided the stone for the architecture. There several are hiking trails that are not terribly long or difficult should one feel so inclined to go for a walk.
It's important to note that this site was inhabited by native people for hundreds of years prior to arrival of the Spanish in 1598 and subsequent forced construction of this church. Needless to say, life here was probably better before Onate showed up and brought the inquisition with him.
All three Salinas Pueblo Missions were abandoned in the 1670's and the surviving inhabitants assimilated into neighboring pueblos.
To see all of my posts from the Salinas Pueblo Missions,click here.
The Best Photo I Never Shot
You really have to appreciate the scale of the structure when you first enter it. The church is huge and I don't think that photos do it justice. When Johnpaul and I walked through the entrance, I immediately felt eyes on me and looked up to see two beautiful owls perched about three quarters of the way up on the right hand side. They looked to be a mamma and her almost grown chick staring down at us with their saucer-sized peepers. And guess what I didn't have? That's right, I didn't have my "real camera" or real telephoto lens needed to get this shot. I was planning on shooting the location with my phone and never considered the possibility of encountering owls. I zoomed in as much as I could but it's not close enough and of course the resolution is crap due to the digital zoom. I call this The Best Photo I Never Shot. The owls watched us the entire time we were there but they never left their perch on the church wall. The entire trip was worth while just for this moment.
All photos shot with Motorola MotoX4 and edited with Snapseed.
I am DeAnna Vincent, fine art and portrait photographer in Los Lunas, New Mexico. These are the photos from my everyday adventures.