Santa Fe Trail map.

Santa Fe Trail map.
Map of the Santa Fe Trail.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Into the Shadowlands, Santa Fe Trail book tour. Santa Fe (part C.)




Holly and I outside the San Miguel Chapel, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


The San Miguel Chapel needing a little TLC in the 1870s.


The San Miguel Chapel on the Old Santa Fe Trail in Santa Fe. Travelers entering (or leaving) Santa Fe along the Santa Fe Trail would have passed this mission church on their journey. I make mention of it as my characters enter the city in 1876 in my novel "Into the Shadowlands." Photos here are past and present, much like in the novel! A mission church has stood on this spot since 1610. Although the original adobe church was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, it was rebuilt in 1710. Over its 400 years of history, it has been in various states of repair. Some photos capture it in a dilapidated state (as in this vintage shot), others show different facades, especially the bell tower. Behind the chapel, just to its left in the vintage shot, you can just see the top of what is referred to as "The oldest house in Santa Fe." It is said to date back to 1250 AD as part of the Tiwa Indian Pueblo of Analco. Across the trail from the chapel is what is now De Vargas Street, which hosts some lovely secluded homes and leads to the main capital buildings. During its early history though, this was known as the Barrio de Analco. It was where many of the Indian servants of Santa Fe's elite resided during the Spanish colonial period. Santa Fe was divided into "los ricos y los pobres," the rich and the poor. Most of Santa Fe's elite, lived on the "other side of the river" (the meaning of Analco) near or around the plaza. The oldest house still stands, you can see it in the same spot in the 2019 photo. It has been restored and stuccoed.

The pup and I outside the San Miguel Chapel, standing on what was the "The old Santa Fe Trail," spring 2019.
(Photo by Stephen Lang.)


Same shot, different century!


Vintage photo taken just a little bit down the trail from the chapel as the road crosses the Santa Fe River.

This is another angle of the San Miguel Mission Church. This time the pics were taken from across the street... the Santa Fe Trail itself. Travelers of the trail would have passed right down this road on their way to the plaza. The building to the right of the church was St. Michael's College (or dormitory), built in 1878. It was another building commissioned by Archbishop Lamy. It is now known as the Lamy Building and serves as the HQ of the New Mexico Tourist Department. Unfortunately, on the day we were there to get our 2019 photo, the building was covered in scaffold. My photoshop skills only go so far! Although "Into the Shadowlands" is set in 1876 (before the college was built,) I have a scene in my book in which my characters ride into Santa Fe, following this exact route.


The Loretto Chapel sits snugly between the school and the convent dating this pic to at least the 1880s.


Here I stand, outside the chapel in the spring of 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


This vintage shot was taken from pretty much the same angle and location as its modern counterpart. 

The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, was another stop on my "Into the Shadowlands," Santa Fe Trail book tour. This was another building commissioned by Archbishop Lamy and construction begun in 1874. I do make mentioned of this chapel in my novel (set in 1876 and in present day) but at that time, the chapel was still under construction, and wouldn't be finished until 1878. The Santa Fe Trail ran right past this building and so my characters would have ridden by it as they came into town and no doubt would have heard the stone masons hard at it !  There is also a fascinating story about its 'Miraculous Staircase,' which I won't try to cover here, but this link can tell you more about it: https://www.lorettochapel.com/info/staircase
I have also included a wide shot of the Loretto Chapel and its original neighbors. To the left of it was a school, constructed by the nuns of the Order of Loretto in 1880. To the right of the Loretto (dedicated to Our Lady of Light) was the convent. In 1971, the whole property was sold and all but the Loretto Chapel were demolished. There is just open space to the left of the chapel now but where the convent once stood is now the "Loretto Inn," built in 1973 in the popular Spanish-pueblo revival style. It very much resembles the Taos Pueblo and has incorporated the chapel into its sprawling complex. 


Me on Water Street, outside the Collected Works Bookstore, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


A photo of the old jail on Water Street, sometime in the 1800s.

An important scene take place at this location, past and present, in my novel. Even though the jail plays a very important part in my book, it is most famous for one its notorious inmates, Billy the Kid, who spent some time there in early 1881. Along with Dave Rudabaugh and William Wilson, Billy tried a bold escape from this jail. Digging beneath the cell wall towards the street, they hid the dirt and the stones in the bedticking. The sheriff (Romulo Martinez) had planted an informer in the jail and the plot was thwarted at the last minute. Billy also wrote letters to the then governor, Lew Wallace, while incarcerated at the jail. 
"I wrote you a little note the day before yesterday, but have received no answer I Expect you have forgotten what you promised me this month two years ago, but I have not, and I think you had ought to have come and seen me as I requested you to. I have done everything that I promised you I would, and you have done nothing that you promised me. I think when you think the matter over, you will come down and see me, and I can then explain everything to you. "
Lew Wallace (who wrote the book "Ben Hur" while stationed in Santa Fe,) resided at the Palace of the Governors, a couple of blocks away. Two years previously, Wallace had had a secret meeting with Billy, promising him a pardon for all of his crimes if he testified against Dolan, Campbell and Evans in the slaying of Huston Chapman, during the Lincoln County War. Billy did give testimony but could never stay out of trouble. The lure of outlaw life was irresistible and 'going straight' or leaving the territory (where he had many friends and paramours) probably didn't have much appeal either. Lew Wallace never replied to any of Billy's letters. But I will not even try to cover the story of Billy the Kid. SO much has been written about him, multiple books, theories and speculation surround his myth. Since he was a legend in his own time, and was very young when he died, (at the hands of Pat Garrett down in Fort Sumner a few months after Billy's Santa Fe incarceration,) I am sure he helped to fuel those flames and so much of the crime and murder attributed to him, probably was committed by somebody else.
Since my novel "Into the Shadowlands" is set in 1876 (and in current day), it is a little too early to cover the Lincoln County War and one of its most famous participants, but I do touch on that era in the sequel (still in the works) "Whispers across the Plane." 
The Collected Works Bookstore is one of my favorites! Dorothy and Mary have hosted several events for me in the past and it remains a good ole fashioned bookstore where you can sit on comfy couches, drink a fine espresso and leaf through 'real' books! Of course I had to have a scene set here in my book! 



Holly and I across from the SantaCafe in Santa Fe, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


Padre Gallegos' House in the 1800s.

The Padre Gallegos House on Washington Avenue. This building, past and present, has an important role in my novel and so I just had to include it in my "Into the Shadowlands," Santa Fe Trail book tour! Jose Manuel Gallegos was one of several priests who Archbishop Lamy defrocked. On arrival in New Mexico in 1851, the then Bishop Lamy was appalled to witness the vice and corruption that ran rampant through the clergy. Many gambled, danced and drank and indulged in "lascivious pleasures." Some had mistresses (who, in some cases, were married women) and fathered illegitimate children. Some took bribes, others socialized with politicos and businessmen. Gallegos was guilty of some, if not all, of the above and was defrocked in 1852. He was also a leading politician in the state too. He built his house in Santa fe in 1857. My novel, "Into the Shadowlands," is set in 1876, a year after Gallegos died. Although it is fiction, and so too is the baile (or dance) held at this location in my story, I thought that the ex-padre (given his love of dancing) would not have disapproved of such an event transpiring at his old home.  A baile, or fandango, was a frequent event in old Santa Fe. Here is a great account by Joseph Pratt Allen, taken from a wonderful book of his letters called "West by Southwest." Allen crossed the Santa Fe Trail in 1863. 
"There is one institution that affords all the amusement here, save gambling, that cannot be overlooked, as it furnishes the material for nine tenths of the opinions strangers form of the people; this is the baile or fandango. These entertainments take place nightly in some part of the town, and as far as I could judge, seem to be supported by the Americans. They are usually open to everybody - a bright light on the roof or in front of the portalles indicating that one is going on. You enter and find yourself in a bar room not unlike similar institutions in the smaller towns in the states. On one side will be a billiard room, and a table covered with greenbacks and ivory counters, at which monte is played; thence a door opens into a larger sala in which the dancing takes place. This is usually a long, narrow, room with benches arranged around the edge, two or three musicians posted on a stage at one end, the walls covered at least as high as your head with chintz calico to protect from the whitewash, a large number of various sized looking-glasses, interspersed with tin crucifixes and candle sticks, with an occasional cheap print, either of a saint or a woman, for the decoration of the walls. The floor of adobe is covered with a carpet. 
On the benches, if you come early, will be ranged round the female dancers, attended by their chaperones - horrid, ugly-looking old women, in uglier clothes. All these will be soberly and almost sadly smoking the little cornstalk cigarettes. The men will be grouped around the door or bar smoking pipes or cigars. Of course there is a dull, heavy cloud of smoke settled over the whole sala."
Despite the heavy smoke and somber cigarette smoking, these fandangos were lively affairs. Like I said, the one I depict in my novel is fiction, but based on historical truth.  What I love about New Mexico, past and present, is its mix of devout Catholic symbolism and its perfect opposite, vice! The fact that there were saints and crucifixes at these fandangos is a wonderful image! No wonder Gallegos never saw the harm in his duel life as priest and party-goer! One thing that Joseph says (back in 1863!!) that could still be said today and is one of the major reasons why I love to call New Mexico home is this...."Santa Fe is a strange chapter torn out of the past and stuck in between the leaves of American progress." Long may it be stuck in its time-warp! 
The Gallegos building now houses one of Santa Fe's most renowned eateries, the "SantaCafe." There is a modern day scene set there in my novel too. 



Into the Shadowlands, Santa Fe Trail book tour. Santa Fe (part B.)



Me standing on Fort Marcy Hill, Santa Fe, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


Same view, mid to late 1880s.

Another spot on my Santa Fe "past and present" book tour for my novel "Into the Shadowlands." The above photos were both taken from Fort Marcy Hill, overlooking Santa Fe. I am guessing the vintage shot was taken in the mid to late 1880s due to the fact that the cathedral looks either complete, or close to it. In the vintage shot, you can clearly see the St. Francis Cathedral's towers and you can see them today, just to the left of my shoulder. A star shaped fort was built on this hill in 1846, shortly after the Americans took over Santa Fe during their war with Mexico. But this fort was little used. Instead, the military created the Fort Marcy Reservation, utilizing the existing buildings, barracks and gardens of the old Spanish/Mexican presidio north of the plaza (behind the Palace of the Governors.) Prior to the Mexican War, the Mexicans had used the hill as a graveyard. By the 1850s, when Marian Russell and her mother and brother journeyed across the Santa Fe Trail and took up residence in Santa Fe, the star fort on the hill was derelict. In her beautiful memoir "Land of Enchantment" Marian recalls Fort Marcy.
"Fort Marcy had been in ruins many years, but an old two-story building still stood there. Inside the building was another smaller one that was supposed to have been used by sharp shooters during the Mexican War. Erosion was opening many old graves in Fort Marcy. Some bleached old bones were lying there. With the savagery of children we gathered up the old bones and played a game we called, "Steal The Dead Man's Bones."
Little remains of the fort now. A few swales and bumps in an open park. The Cross of the Martyrs was built on the hill in 1920. The Fort Marcy Reservation plays an important part (in 1876) in my novel "Into the Shadowlands," and the current Fort Marcy residential area also has a role too! 


In this photo, I am standing outside the Palace of the Governors. Spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


Vintage photo of the Palace of the Governors. Around the late 1870s? 

The Palace of the Governors was built in 1609-1610. The palace, also known as the casa real, was one of the very first buildings in the new Spanish city called Santa Fe. From the time of its construction, along the whole north end of the Santa Fe Plaza, this building, and the adjoining presidio, represented the main seat of government for the region and the residence of the governor through the Spanish era, the brief Mexican era and into the American Territorial period. The palace has been witness to so much of New Mexico's history, surviving the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and many renovations, excavations and face-lifts! It's main construction is adobe and until a tin roof was added (previously it had just been vigas, brush and dirt) in 1877, it had been famous for a leaky roof, which required that residence and visitors use an umbrella indoors during rainstorms! A Victorian balustrade was also added to the portal in 1877. When it became the Museum of New Mexico in 1909, it was remodeled again. This time in what was fast becoming a popular style in Santa Fe, the "Pueblo Revival" look, which now dominates the city. Native Americans, representing multiple New Mexico tribes, sell their beautifully crafted jewelry under the palace portal. One of the palace's most famous governors was Lew Wallace. It was while he was stationed in New Mexico in the 1880s, that he finished writing his novel "Ben Hur."



Here I stand in the middle of the junction outside the modern La Fonda Hotel. Spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


A group of men stand at the same junction in front of the hotel in the 1870s.


Another shot of the hotel, known as the Exchange Hotel back then (and in my novel). In the background you can see the St. Francis Cathedral, complete, or close to it. This dates this photo to at least the mid to late 1880s.

The La Fonda Hotel, Santa Fe. Another stop on my past and present visit to Santa Fe for my "Into the Shadowlands," Santa Fe Trail book tour. We had to get up really, really early for most of these shots, to avoid traffic and people, and you can see the long shadows as I stood in the middle of the intersection right at the southeast corner of the plaza.... just like the chaps in the vintage shot. There has been a fonda (or inn) at this location pretty much since the founding of Santa Fe in 1610. In its early days, it serviced the needs of the folks who traveled the Camino Real (King's Road) from Mexico, which entered Santa Fe on what are now Agua Fria Street and San Francisco Street. The inn has gone by different names and had countless proprietors over its 400 year history. There are also numerous stories surrounding it too.... some fact, some fiction and mostly all of them colorful! This hotel, past and present, is mentioned in my novel. Around the time my story is set (the past part of it, 1876,) this inn was known as the Exchange Hotel. The Exchange remained until 1919 when it was demolished and a new Pueblo-Spanish style hotel was built in the 1920s. Until the late 1960s, this new "La Fonda" was one of a chain of Harvey House Hotels, linked to Santa Fe Railroad. 



Holly (my dog) and I outside the New Mexico Fine Arts Museum, Santa Fe, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


The old Fort Marcy HQ building that stood on northwest corner of the Santa Fe Plaza.

The Headquarters building for the Fort Marcy Reservation. Although a star shaped fort had been constructed on a nearby hill in 1846, the military mostly utilized the old Spanish/Mexican presidio buildings and grounds just north of the Palace of the Governors building in downtown Santa Fe. This building, just to the west of the palace, does have a scene in my novel! Prior to it becoming the HQ (in 1868, when the reservation was created and the HQ was constructed,) this site must have served as a boarding house at some point. In Marian Russell's poignant memoir "Land of Enchantment," she makes reference to it. "In the spring of 1854, we moved to Santa Fe and mother leased a large adobe house on the central Plaza. That adobe house, our first home in Santa Fe was torn down later and the present New Mexico Art Museum erected in its place. We soon had our house filled with military boarders. They paid at the princely rate of $45.00 per month."
As Marian mentions, in 1916 this site became the location of the Fine Arts Museum which was built in the popular Spanish-Pueblo style that dominates modern Santa Fe. In the 2019 photo, Holly (my dog) and I are standing more-or-less where the portal of the old HQ used to be.


Holly and I outside the Santa Fe County Courthouse, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


A boy and burro outside Dona Tules' home in the same location.

This building on the corner of Grant Avenue and Palace Avenue (near the entrance to Burro Alley), in Santa Fe, plays a major role (in 1876) in my novel "Into the Shadowlands," so I had to include it in my Santa Fe Trail book tour. It is now the Santa Fe County Courthouse (which will have a role in the sequel to 'Shadowlands,' called "Whispers across the Plane,"... still in the works) but it once was the sprawling home of one of Santa Fe's most notorious characters, Gertrudis Barcelo, AKA Dona Tules. Born in Mexico at the turn of the 18th Century, by the 1840s, she had established a successful gambling enterprise on Burro Alley and was very wealthy. I'll borrow from the words of Josiah Gregg, an early trader on the Santa Fe Trail, and auther of a fabulous book about his experiences "Commerse of the Prairies."
"Some tweleve or fifteen years ago there lived (or rather roamed) in Taos a certain female of very loose habits, known as La Tules. Finding it difficult to obtain the means of living in that district, she finally extended her wanderings to the capital. She there became a constant attendant to one of those pandemoniums where the favorite game of monte was dealt pro bono publico. Fortune, at first, did not seem inclined to smile upon her efforts, and for some years she spent her days in lowliness and misery. At last her luck turned, as gamblers would say, and on one occasion she left the bank with a spoil of several hundred dollars! This enabled her to open a bank of her own, and being favored by a continuous run of good fortune, she gradually rose higher and higher in the scale of affluence, until she found herself in possession of a very handsome fortune. In 1843, she sent to the United States some ten thousand dollars to be invested in goods. She still continues her favorite 'amusement,' being now considered the most expert 'monte dealer' in all Santa Fe. She is openly received in the first circles of society: I doubt, in truth, whether there is to be found in the city a lady of more fashionable reputation than this same Tules, now known as Senora Dona Gerdrudis Barcelo."
"The love of gaming" (Josiah's words) was very much in evidence in Santa Fe. "It prevails in the lowly hut, as well as in the glittering saloon; nor is the sanctity of the gown nor the dignity of the station sufficient proof against the fascinations of this exciting vice. No one considers it a degradation to be seen frequenting a monte bank: the governor himself and his lady, the grave magistrate and the priestly dignity, the gay caballero and the titled senora may all be seen staking their doubloons upon the turn of the card; while the humbler ranchero, the hired domestic and the ragged pauper, all press with equal avidity to test their fortune at the same shrine." 
Dona Tules died in 1852 and after a very elaborate funeral, was buried at La Paroquia, the adobe church that once stood where the St. Francis Cathedral now stands. Her home on the corner of Grant and Palace went through several hands after that. At one point (in an account I saw dated 1883), I believe, it became the temporary chambers of the district court and was occupied by the territorial chief justice. A very important scene in my novel "Into the Shadowlands," (set in 1876 and in present day,) takes place here. The vintage photo shows a little boy with his burro carrying firewood standing outside Dona Tules' house, as it would have looked during that period. The home was demolished in 1939 and the new Santa Fe Courthouse (pictured with me and Holly -my dog- standing in front of it in 2019) was constructed.


Into the Shadowlands, Santa Fe Trail book tour. Santa Fe (Part A)



Although these posts about Santa Fe really should have come at the beginning of my previous Santa Fe Trail posts (given the direction our 'journey' took us.... from Santa Fe northeast to Missouri,) I have chosen to save Santa Fe until last. Since I didn't take my horse Fancy into the city itself, I chose a different way to visit it. To capture it during its Santa Fe Trail days, I have tried to recreate old photographs showing particular sites past and present. There are many different sites, all important to Santa Fe's history and most of them playing a part in my novel "Into the Shadowlands," and so I have covered Santa Fe in three different chapters for my 'book tour.'


Fancy and I outside Santa Fe, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


"Arrival of the Caravan at Santa Fe" Josiah Gregg.

This sketch from Josiah Gregg's book "Commerce of the Prairies" is titled "Arrival of the Caravan at Santa Fe." After crossing hundreds of miles of prairie and rough and dangerous country from Missouri, reaching their final destination was met with relief and euphoria.... and, in some cases, disappointment.  As Fancy and I stood for this photo, I truly felt the same euphoria. We had finally covered all of the major Santa Fe Trail sites within New Mexico, which has been a dream of mine for a long time.
There are many accounts of first impressions of 1800s Santa Fe. In Josiah Gregg's book, his comments mirror that of many other 'first-timers.'
"A few miles before reaching the capital city, the road again emerges into an open plain. Ascending a table ridge, we spied in an extended valley to the northwest, occasional groups of trees, skirted with verdant corn and wheat fields, with here and there a square block-like protuberance reared in the midst. A little further, and just ahead of us to the north, irregular clusters of the same opened to our view. "Oh, we are approaching the suburbs!" thought I, on perceiving the cornfields, and what I supposed to be brick-kilns scattered in every direction. These and other observations of the same nature becoming audible, a friend at my elbow said, "It is true those are heaps of unburnt bricks, nevertheless they are houses - this is the city of Santa Fe." 
And, Marian Russell, seeing Santa Fe for the first time as a child, describes it so beautifully in her memoir "Land of Enchantment."
"How our hearts waited for a sight of the Santa Fe of our dreams. We thought it would be a city, and waited breathlessly for the first sight of towers and tall turrets. We were in Santa Fe before we knew it. We crossed a water ditch where half-naked children stood unashamed and unfrozen to watch us. Then we passed through a great wooden gateway that arched high above us. We moved along narrow alley-like streets past iron-barred windows. We were among a scattering of low, square-cornered adobe houses. We saw a church with two cupolas. Mexicans, Indians and half-breeds shouldered by us. We saw strings of red peppers drying, and brown babies asleep by old adobe walls.
    Our caravan wriggled through donkeys, goats and Mexican chickens. We came to the plaza and found there a man, a tall man, leaning on a long rifle. He had a neck like a turkey, red and wrinkled, but he was the boss of the plaza. We went where he told us. Under his guidance, wagon after wagon fell into place. Dogs barked at us. Big-eyed children stared at us. Black-shawled women smiled shyly at us. We were in Santa Fe."


Me on the plaza in Santa Fe, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


Photo of the Santa Fe Plaza taken around the 1860s.

 The city of Santa Fe was founded by the Spanish in 1610 and there has pretty much been a plaza at this location since then. The Santa Fe Trail was opened in 1821 and this spot was the terminus of it (for wagons journeying towards Santa Fe - in what was then Mexico - from Missouri in the east.) Thousands of trade wagons ended their journey from the American states on the Santa Fe Plaza and unloaded their cargoes at the many stores and warehouses that lined the square. Prior to the Santa Fe Trail, the main trade route out of Santa Fe had been the Camino Real, the main road south to Chihuahua. As you can see, not much has changed! In the background of the vintage pic, you can see the Parroquia, the old adobe church that had stood where the St. Francis Cathedral now stands. The Paroquia was built in 1714-17, replacing the orignal church (built in 1626) that had been burned down during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The stone Cathedral (which was commissioned by Archbishop Lamy,) was constructed between 1869 and 1884. It was built around the existing adobe Parroquia, which was then dismantled, 'brick by brick.' In the vintage photo, if you look very closely, you can see the lower walls and the beginning of the arched doorway of the cathedral growing around the base of the Parroquia. My book "Into the Shadowlands," is set in 1876 (and also in present day Santa Fe,) right when the new Cathedral was in the midst of construction.
Special thanks to the Thunderbird Bar and Grill for allowing us to utilize their balcony for our 2019 shot! 


Me sitting on the plaza, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


The Santa Fe Plaza park around the 1860s-70s.

In the above photo, I am sitting more or less where the fellas in the vintage shot were sitting. Behind us is the Soldiers Monument. It is dedicated to the Union soldiers who died at the Battle of Glorieta on the Santa Fe Trail near Pigeons's Ranch. It is also dedicated to pioneers who died at the hands of Indians. The word "savage" (when describing the Indians) has been somewhat controversial and, as always, is one sided. This monument was erected in 1867 and so has been witness to much history from its vantage point in the middle of the plaza!


In this pic I am standing in front of the St. Francis Cathedral, spring 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang.)


The St. Francis Cathedral under construction, late 1870s, early 1880s.

 The St. Francis Cathedral was commissioned by Archbishop Lamy, a French clergyman who came to Santa Fe in 1851, and was built around the the Parroquia, an existing adobe church that had stood in that location since 1714-17. In the vintage photo, you can still see the two crenelated towers of the old Parroquia peeking up above the growing walls of the stone cathedral. The first cornerstone of the cathedral was laid in July 1867, but construction was slow and went in fits and starts. Craftsmen were brought over from Europe and there were several changes in architects and contractors and funding was always an issue. Finally, the cathedral was finished in 1884. The Parroquia was dismantled 'brick by brick' and used to pave a terrace around the cathedral. Since my book "Into the Shadowlands" is set along the Santa Fe Trail in 1876 (and in present day,) the cathedral was very much under construction during the time Abby and Tate arrive in Santa Fe! 


Here I am standing next to the burro monument at the entrance to Burro Alley in the spring of 2019.
(photo by Stephen Lang)


Traders and burros at the entrance to Burro Alley in the 1800s.

One of Santa Fe's most notorious streets, Burro Alley was home to saloons, brothels and gambling dens.. and, of course, burros! Many diaries and memoirs from folks who had visited Santa Fe in the 1800s mention Burro Alley, and one of its most famous business owners, Dona Tules, also known as Gerdrudis Barcelo. Dona Tules ran a monte parlor and was a very colorful character in Santa Fe's history from the time she opened her gambling hall on Burro Alley in the 1830s until her death in 1852. She had an elaborate funeral and was buried at La Parroquia (where the St Francis Cathedral now stands) which was a sign of her influence and esteem, especially given that she was a proprietress of sin!    Numerous people frequented her monte parlor over the years, including Governor Manuel Armijo (during Mexican rule), many preists, Santa Fe Trail traders, mountain men, US soldiers and even some of the social elite of Santa Fe. You can see the window of her sprawling home at the end of Burro Alley in the vintage photo, which is now the location of the Santa Fe County Courthouse. An important scene in my book also takes place in that building! Burro Alley got its name from the profusion of burros that were tethered there. The burro was a true beast of burden and many a tiny donkey was seen half buried in loads of firewood and other wares in the streets of Santa Fe. Their enormous contribution to Santa Fe's history is now commemorated with a statue at the San Francisco Street entrance to the alley. The east side of the alley hasn't changed much over the years, but the west side is now the location of the Lensic Theatre, built in the 1930s it is a mix of art deco and Moorish-Spanish influence.



Thursday, September 12, 2019

Into the Shadowlands, Santa Fe Trail book tour, part ten.

The Raton Pass.



Fancy and I look down into New Mexico from the Raton Pass.


Well Fancy and I (and Holly, my pup) finally did it! We have visited ALL of the Santa Fe Trail sites, both the Cimarron Cutoff Branch and the Mountain Branch, in New Mexico! This has been my version of a book tour for my novel "Into the Shadowlands." This past July we went to the New Mexico side of the infamous Raton Pass, one of the more daunting hurdles encountered by trail travelers using the Mountain Branch. Its steep climbs on narrow, treacherous roads brought many a wagon train to a stand still with broken wagons, accidents and death to the livestock. This was the only site I have visited in summer. Most of my 'tour' was conducted in the spring, with cooler temps and no bugs or tourists. Raton was so beautiful this summer though, with lush green range and running streams that I just couldn't resist, but, with temps in the high 80's, my critters and I were soon pooped out by the heat and burning sun. Most travelers of the Santa Fe Trail journeyed in the summer months and so it was a reminder of what those trail travelers (and their beasts of burden) endured. Not just in the high, dry New Mexico summer heat (or during its monsoon season with daily thunderstorms), but also in the more humid states of Kansas and Missouri. Ugh! How did they do it!? No shade, save what could be offered by the wagon canvas, no sunscreen, dehydration from scant water, no bug spray, dust and no showers. In my novel, there is a key scene set along the Raton Pass and so of course it is a highlight of my book tour. 

Switchback along the Raton Pass.


Vintage sketch of wagons on the Raton Pass.

Fancy and I hiked a small section of the switchbacks near the end of the New Mexico side of the trail. Looking down onto the New Mexico plains and back at the jagged Colorado Mountains. Perhaps, when things are cooler, I will go back and hike deeper along the pass trail. I was delighted to see the paw print of a bear where it had passed shortly after the rain had turned the trail to mud. I thought of Susan Shelby Magoffin and the "Mr. Bruen" she mentions in her lovely account of navigating the Raton Pass in her diary "Down the Santa Fe Trail and into Mexico" written in the summer/fall of 1846. The section of the trail we walked was wide and beautifully graded, with just a few potholes and washouts, but back in the days of the Santa Fe Trail, it was a rough, narrow trail, rife with boulders, crumbling scree and trees whose branches reached out and played havoc with the passing wagons. In 1865, "Uncle" Dick Wooten opened a toll road for wagons over the pass. The road was somewhat improved from its mule path origins but still presented a major challenge to wagon trains. His ranch, inn and toll gate were on the Colorado side of the pass. I have read several first-hand accounts by travelers of the pass, all of whom were traveling from Colorado into New Mexico when they traveled the Raton Pass. But of course, trail traffic went both ways.


Fancy and I (and my pup, not pictured) walked a section of switchbacks.

"Next day we reached the top just about sunrise, and the finest view perhaps I ever saw met the eye. It is very difficult to contrast these pure American landscapes with any other; everything is on so grand a scale. There may be finer single mountains, like Vesuvius, lonelier valleys, like some in Switzerland, but there is nowhere such vastness and grandeur. The most striking feature of the scene was the contrast in tone and color between the view to the north and that to the south. To the north the outline was cut clear and distinct, and the picture cold and majestic; to the south there was warmth and richness of color, a light velvetty purple haze seemed draped over the stretch of mountains and plain; the one awed, the other attracted."
Joseph Pratt Allyn, in a letter dated November 1863, in the book "West by Southwest" 


Looking into Colorado.


Looking out at New Mexico.

"The summit of the ridge was reached after an hour's toil; and, stopping a moment for the fatigued animals to blow, we rapidly descended. The immense precipices of bare rock and earth, the confusion in which nature seemed involved, caused all to remark the forbidding aspect on the 'Canadiano' side of the summit. At some steep hills, near the pass terminus, we picked our way over a road, which, in verity might be termed rough. Pine trees interfered with the free use of the whip; large rocks obtruded their rude fronts in the torturous road; one "wo-ha-a" too many or a "gee" too few here endangers the safety of the unwieldy teams and burdens. The debris of wagons, such as fellies, loose tire, and tongues snapped short off shewed unmistakable signs of mismanagement and told plainly that "government" was a loser in the Raton Pass."
Lewis H. Garrard, "Wah-to-yah and the Taos Trail." 1846-47.
(Note: The 'Canadiano' side is the New Mexico side. It refers to the Canadian River.)
"Worse and worse the road! They are even taking the mules from the carriages this P.M. and a half dozen men by bodily exertions are pulling them down the hills. And it takes a dozen men to steady a wagon with all its wheels locked - and for one who is some distance off to hear the crash it makes over the stones, is truly alarming. Till I rode ahead and understood the business, I supposed that every wagon had fallen over a precipice. We came to camp about half an hour after dusk, having accomplished the great travel of six or eight hundred yards during the day."
Susan Shelby Magoffin, "Down the Santa Fe Trail and into Mexico."


Another vintage sketch of a wagon train navigating the Raton Pass.



Thank you, thank you, thank you to my darling horse Fancy for putting up with all of my book tour silliness! I love that sweet horse (and of course my pup Holly) for their patience and tolerance during our Santa Fe Trail adventures! XX I am so moved and delighted to have shared this dream come true with two very lovely souls. The Raton Pass plays a crucial role in my book "Into the Shadowlands," and so I was delighted to include it in my book tour. Stay tuned for my coverage of Santa Fe. Although, technically, it should have been the first of my blog posts along this journey (given the direction I chose to follow the trail,) I have saved it for last. Fancy, Holly and I visited it this past spring and had fun recreating historical photographs at various locations within the old city.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Winter on the Santa Fe Trail.

Happy New Year everyone. I am going to take a brief pause in my "Into the Shadowlands" book tour blogs to contemplate winter on the Santa Fe Trail....


"With all our steady travel, we made no more than five or six miles, and encamped, as the sun was waning beyond the snowbanks ahead, sheltered in the rear by a sparse growth of stunted willows.
      We felt with our feet, on the river's edge, for pieces of wood, and, with numbed fingers, knocked the snow from them. These, with the aid of a few handfuls of dead willow twigs, served as fuel. Watering the animals through a hole in the ice-bound river, they were hobbled in a hollow and left exposed to the "storm's pitiless peltings," to eke a scanty meal from the weeds and stray blades of grass laid bare by the frame-pervading blasts.  We cut brush, and clearing a small space of the snow, laid our robes and blankets on the boughs, and sitting with crossed legs, stared at the flickering blaze rising through the still and piercing air, our pipes charged with fragrant "honeydew" or "single twist"; the holders every moment blowing out blue clouds of smoke, calculated at most any other time to sicken, but now not a bit too strong.  By turning our eyes to the darkness, we could see the dusky forms of our congregated caballada, with backs bowed and tails to the blast, too cold to paw for grass, now snorting as a hungry wolf crossed the wind, or feebly answering an inquiring whinney from a timid mule, scared at its own tramping in the dry, frosty snow."


Lewis H. Gerrard, "Wah-to-yah and The Taos Trail"

~From a wonderful memoir he wrote about crossing the Santa Fe Trail in 1846.



One of my mustangs, Solo, "with back bowed and tail to the blast."


    Over Christmas and New Year we had very cold temps and snow and it made me think of those Santa Fe Trail travelers a lot. With temps below freezing during the day and below zero (F) at night, I can't even imagine what that would have been like with just a wagon canvas to protect you from the elements and the wind chill (which I have known to be 30 below out here!! Other locals remember it when it was 50 below!) Especially on the open plain where the snow would be blowing sideways and drifting. Ugh! Most Santa Fe Trail travelers didn't cross the plains in winter, but for those who thought they could tempt the fates or who got caught in an early (or late) snowstorm, the losses were enormous. And, there was nobody coming to pull you out or rescue you either. No 911 calls!

"In 1844, Dr. H. Connelly and Mr. Spyre, as early in the season as the 12th of October, encountered a storm near the Arkansas River, in which a number of mules perished, and the remainder were only saved by running them into the timber on the river, a distance of some 15 miles. 
     The same party, a few days subsequently, met a second storm, on the Cimarron, in which they lost in one night over 300 mules, and were compelled to remain until mules were sent from Santa Fe to their relief."


The above is from a report on winter travel (along the trail) by James L. Collins in 1852. 

Like I said, I have known it be 30 below zero (F). Before I moved up to Watrous full time, I used to come up (from Cerrillos, just south of Santa Fe) every other day to check on my horses and spend the night in a tiny camper trailer I kept on the land. I did this winter and summer and I can remember several hair-raising trips up I-25 in blizzards, trying to get some hay to my horses. On one trip, I managed to get out onto the land (about 10 miles off the interstate - down dirt roads) and sighed a big breath of relief when I got the heater going in my trailer and settled in for the night. Just after sundown though, the heater sputtered out. Despite many tries to get it re-started, it just wouldn't fire up. I later learned that moisture had gotten into the regulator and frozen. It was a sinking and somewhat scary feeling. I knew it was forecast to be at least 20 below that night and it would be easy to freeze to death. Getting back on the interstate (which had been closed by now) was not an option. To cut a long story short, I put on every article of clothing (which included several pairs of thermal underwear, hats, gloves and a coat) I had and then my dog and I squashed ourselves into my sleeping bag together, which I then covered with a comforter. We survived the night but by morning everything was brutally frigid and frozen and I was relieved when my very reluctant truck started.

I was lucky, I had a camper trailer and a truck I could start up in the morning (with heater up on high). I can only imagine the misery and danger those kinds of conditions presented to the travelers of the trail in the 1800s. I was also lucky enough to have tree cover to help break the howling wind. Watrous is just a few miles east of the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Although we have open plain here, it is still broken country with canyons and ridges where ponderosa pines and pinon and juniper trees offer some cover. Out on the flat plains to the east of us, the only lumber or forest would have been what grew along the infrequent rivers. I am also amazed at how much the horses can stand. If they can get into a tree line and put their backs into the wind, they seem to do OK. I am sure they have their limits, but I know mine have gotten through 2-3 days of 30 below. But in many accounts of travelers caught in blizzards along the trail, it was not uncommon for a train to lose most, if not all, of their animals. In some cases the losses of horses, mules and cattle could be as high as 1000 head in just a matter of a few hours. On other occasions, half buried wagons were chopped up for firewood, leaving any surviving travelers stranded, sometimes for months.



An old covered wagon in the snow at Shadowlands Ranch. A thick layer of frost covers all of the tree branches.


Santa Fe Trail wagon ruts in the snow.


"In the morning, seeing that the caballada had had but little to eat and the cold being so intense, a day in camp was thought best. A snowstorm, with all its blustering fury, burst upon us during the morning and lasted half the day, driving the rotting-wood smoke in our eyes, so that small comfort was gained by the fire. We would sit in one position until nearly stifled; a change to the opposite side was only for the wind to veer and drive us again away. We had no tent, of course, and the shifting wind monopolized every good position. 
   What prospect was in advance! Snow twenty-two to twenty-eight inches deep; our mules starving; the oxen broken down with fatigue; not more than one day's scanty portion of dried meat, and nothing else; an attempt at hunting almost certain death; and, at least, two days' travel to William Bent's village, although there were but forty miles between the two (one day's trip in pleasant weather, now five for us). Verily, this is the dark side of prairie life!
     We ventured to start the following morning, but dared not ride for fear of freezing to the saddles, though tramping in the snow was severely fatiguing."

Lewis H. Gerrard,  "Wah-t-yah and The Taos Trail."


My herd of frosty mustangs running to the hay truck after a winter storm. At the time I took this photo, 8.30 am with the sun fully up, it was 1 degree (F).


The Mora River in winter, with ice and snow. Willows line its banks with a small bosque of cottonwood trees.



Fancy and I in the snow at Shadowlands Ranch.

Once again I wish you all a happy and healthy 2019. Stay warm and safe and long may we get moisture up here in New Mexico's arid plains!! I will try to endeavor to look upon any of this new year's challenges the way Lewis does in his memoirs. To see the bright side in even the most harshest of situations:

"It is strange how self-satisfied one is, when safely in camp.  There we, almost at an unapproachable distance from anywhere, amid snowstorms, with scarce a hearty meal, in a barren country, and too freezing cold to hunt, sat on our soft robes, acknowledging the grateful warmth of the coals (shuddering, perhaps, as a cold puff of wind, coursing on the crusted snow, struck our backs and caused us to pull the blankets more closely to our necks) - chatting as unconcernedly as if surrounded by luxuries, such as large fires and plenty to eat. It is by some experience in a prairie voyageur's life that I can say, never was I more contented, silently happy than when, with snow wreaths drifted interminably for miles and miles around, with a choice companion or two, cosily seated by a small comfortable fire, with plenty of tobacco and a modicum of meat to sustain life, I have listened to the baying of wolves and have imagined the Hamadryads' tuneful sighs mingling with the crackling of the frosted tree branches, while the mournful cadences of the wind, sweeping up the vale with wild fury, would burst over our heads with the shrieks of crazy delight - now dying away in harmonious deflections, anon increasing in vigor, yet never ending."

Lewis H. Gerrard, "Wah-to-yah and The Taos Trail."   


Winter sunset.