The Rio Grande Cottonwood, a welcome sight to pioneer desert caravans because it often signaled water, typically reaches 50 to 60 feet in height, with a trunk of three feet in diameter. Some of the grand old cottonwoods in the Rio Grande Valley have reached 90 feet in height, with trunks five feet across. In open areas, the tree may divide into branches near its base, producing a spreading crown. . . .
The Rio Grande Cottonwood reproduces by seeding, unlike many other flood-plain trees which regenerate by sprouting. It flowers in the spring, before it leafs out. It releases its seeds, each carried by downy white tuft, or “parachute,” in anticipation of traditional spring floods and winds, the principal mechanisms for dispersion. A mature Rio Grande Cottonwood can produce as many as 25 million seeds in a season, covering wide areas with a blanket of “cotton.”
Here’s a slideshow from Albuquerque’s “Snow-of-the-Century” — back before hoaxers started warming the planet — six years ago today (about 25-26 inches at Casa NewMexiKen). Click for larger versions and slideshow, or scroll over image for caption.
Those bags with sand and candles that are a New Mexico Christmas Eve tradition; the correct name for them is farolitos.
Often farolitos are called luminarias. Lumanarias traditionally were actually small bonfires.
Farolitos (literally “little lanterns”) replaced lumanarias (“altar lamps”) as towns became more densely populated. The purpose of both was to light the path to midnight mass.
Farolitos are the coolest Christmas decoration ever, especially when whole neighborhoods line their sidewalks, driveways and even roof-lines with them. (Electric versions are common and can be found throughout the season. The real deal are candles and displayed only on Christmas Eve.)
Buy some sand (for ballast), some votive candles and some lunch bags and bring a beautiful New Mexico Christmas Eve tradition to your neighborhood this year. Get your neighbors to join you. You could become famous if it’s never been done in your area. And the kids love it.
These photos were taken on November 13th last year at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge about 100 miles south of Albuquerque. Snow geese, some of the 30,000 there at the time.
Click for larger versions.
… was opened on this date in 1821.
Between 1821 and 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was primarily a commercial highway connecting Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. From 1821 until 1846, it was an international commercial highway used by Mexican and American traders. In 1846, the Mexican-American War began. The Army of the West followed the Santa Fe Trail to invade New Mexico. When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war in 1848, the Santa Fe Trail became a national road connecting the United States to the new southwest territories. Commercial freighting along the trail continued, including considerable military freight hauling to supply the southwestern forts. The trail was also used by stagecoach lines, thousands of gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, fur trappers, and emigrants. In 1880 the railroad reached Santa Fe and the trail faded into history.
The 1940 film Santa Fe Trail, with Ronald Reagan playing George Armstrong Custer — and starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland — has little basis in historical fact other than that there was a Santa Fe Trail.
“New Mexico’s historic bars reflect the lives and times of the common and not-so-common people who made our history. They include rough saloons that catered to miners, polished hotel bars for traveling merchants, and flashing-neon honky-tonks to attract Route 66 tourists.”
Click the link to read about the five:
The Buckhorn Saloon & Opera House, Pinos Altos
No Scum Allowed Saloon, White Oak
Hotel Eklund, Clayton
Silva’s Saloon, Bernalillo
The 49er Lounge, Gallup
Once the largest army post in the southwest, Fort Union is now little more than a shadow of its former self set among beautiful grasslands north of Las Vegas, New Mexico. For 40 years in the second half of the 19th century, it was the Santa Fe Trail equivalent of an interstate truck stop and regional warehouse.
When New Mexico became United States territory after the U.S.- Mexican War, the army established garrisons in towns scattered along the Rio Grande to protect the area’s inhabitants and travel routes. This arrangement proved unsatisfactory for a number of reasons, and in April 1851, Lt. Col. Edwin V. Sumner, commanding Military Department No. 9 (which included New Mexico Territory), was ordered “to revise the whole system of defense” for the entire territory. Among his first acts was to break up the scattered garrisons and relocate them in posts closer to the Indians. He also moved his headquarters and supply depot from Santa Fe, “that sink of vice and extravagance,” to a site near the Mountain and Cimarron branches of the Santa Fe Trail, where he established Fort Union.
Photos were taken four years ago yesterday with iPhone 3G.
Five-years-ago, driving along Tramway across Sandia Pueblo, I was reminded of one of the best things about living in Albuquerque. I began to think, NewMexiKen you can live anywhere, why do you stay here?
There are a lot of ways to answer a question like that. One way is to make a list.
These aren’t the only reasons, and they aren’t in any particular order, but these are ten that came to mind.
- The weather, except sometimes in March and April. Four seasons, all of them distinct, none of them oppressive, or too long. And September and October — amazing!
- The food, red and green — and sopapillas with honey.
- The Rio Grande, though we fail to do anything with it. A historic river — third longest in America — how about a river walk with cafes and shops (tastefully and environmentally correct, of course)?
- The Plaza. Not as historic as Santa Fe’s, or even Taos’s. Still it’s always inviting and often filled with people celebrating a wedding at San Felipe de Neri. In other words, while a tourist attraction, it’s still “our” plaza.
- Santa Fe, Taos, Chaco, Pecos, Valles Caldera and more, world-class tourist venues that are day trips for us.
- The sky, whether bluer than blue, or lit dramatically by sun or twilight, or with clouds, white or dark. Our sky is always something to behold, most gloriously at sunrise over the mountains and sunset over the volcanoes.
- The pueblos nearby with their cultures, feasts and dances.
- The Sandia mountains right here, rising a mile right above us.
- The diversity of people. It’s a community without a majority population.
- The Indian land north and south of the city, the national forest land (and wilderness) east of it. If it weren’t for the permanently undeveloped land that surrounds so much of Albuquerque, I fear it all would look like Rio Rancho.
And a few more.
- The Buckhorn, The Owl and Los Ojos, the funkiest saloons anywhere.
- The Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge and the Festival of the Cranes.
- The Sunport.
- Living, as I do, at 6,000 feet above sea level.
And one visual aid.
The battle of Glorieta Pass concluded 150 years ago today (1862). Union troops from Fort Union, New Mexico, joined by volunteers from Colorado, effectively ended Confederate attempts to march north up the Rio Grande and on to the gold fields in Colorado.
Estimated casualties: Union 142, Confederate 189.
The Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Battle Summary: Glorieta Pass provides somewhat more detail on the three days, including this:
Glorieta Pass was a strategic location, situated at the southern tip of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, southeast of Santa Fe, and on the Santa Fe Trail. . . . Both Slough [Union] and Scurry [Confederate] decided to attack and set out early on the 28th to do so. 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 soon left the field also, thinking he had won the battle. Chivington’s men, however, had destroyed all Scurry’s supplies and animals at Johnson’s Ranch, forcing him to retreat to Santa Fe, the first step on the long road back to San Antonio, Texas. The Federals had won and, thereby, stopped Confederate incursions into the Southwest. Glorieta Pass was the turning point of the war in the New Mexico Territory.