Pecos National Historical Park
Gateway to the Plains:
In the midst of piñon, juniper, and ponderosa pine woodlands in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains not far from Santa Fe, the remains of an Indian pueblo stand as a meaningful reminder of people who once prevailed here. Now a national historical park demonstrates to modern visitors the cultural exchange and geographic facets central to the rich history of the Pecos Valley.
There are four churches located in Pecos National Historical Park. Of the four churches built at Pecos Pueblo three are located in the mission complex south of the Pueblo along the main loop trail. One is located to the northeast of the Pueblo; visitors can visit it through a ranger guided tour.
Between the Sangre de Cristo mountains and the Glorieta mesa lies the Glorieta Pass, through which a continuously unfolding story of human culture has travelled to and from the Pecos Valley for thousands of years.
Pueblo and Plains Indians, Spanish conquerors and missionaries, Mexican and Anglo armies, Santa Fe Trail settlers and adventurers, tourists on the railroad, Route 66 and Interstate 25...the Pecos Valley has long been a backdrop that invites contemplation about where our civilization comes from and where it is going.
Glorieta Mesa represents millions of years of geologic history. An outstanding feature of the mesa is red Glorieta sandstone capped by yellowish San Andreas limestone.
Thousands of years of this rich history is preserved for visitors to Pecos National Historical Park.
Santa Fe Trail:
There are not only Santa Fe Trail ruts at Pecos National Historical Park, but also other visible forms of trail history, including the storied stage stop and trading post that once belonged to Martin Kozlowski.
During the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass--when the Santa Fe Trail in this part of the country became a military trail--Kozlowski's was used by the Union Army as its headquarters, for encampment, and for medical care. However, there is as well a rich history at this site before and after the Civil War battle.
Westward expansion played an important role in the use, development and demise of the trail. And as the Santa Fe Trail increased its variety of travelers headed west--trappers, traders, Gold Rush and other fortune seekers, adventurers, journalists, naturalists, and everyday Americans--the route became central to the story of the expansion and development of the United States.
Journeying on the trail from Missouri to the New Mexico was long and arduous, and there were many stops along the way...Boone's Lick, Switzler Creek, Lost Spring, Point of Rocks to name a few...but you can visit one of the most welcome stops right here at Pecos National Historical Park: Kozlowski's stage stop and trading post. You can see the structure (and learn the story of what happened at Kozlowski's, and when visitors took detours to the mysterious Indian ruins nearby) when you sign up for one of the park's ranger-guided tours.
People of Pecos:
The People of Cicuye/Pecos
In the midst of piñon, juniper, and ponderosa pine woodlands in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains 25 miles southeast of Santa Fe, enfolding the memory of those who came before, from nomadic tribes to pit house dwellers, the remains of an Indian pueblo stand as a meaningful reminder of a culture that once prevailed in this region. Weathered adobe walls of a Spanish church share a ridge with the pueblo ruins, which extend for a quarter-mile along a ridge in a valley shared by the Glorieta Creek and the Pecos River. Long before Spaniards entered this country, this pueblo village was the juncture of trade between people of the Rio Grande Valley and hunting tribes of the buffalo plains. Its nearly 2,000 inhabitants could marshal 500 fighting men; its frontier location brought both war and trade.
At trade fairs, Plains tribes-mostly nomadic Apaches-brought slaves, buffalo hides, flint, and shells to trade for pottery, crops, textiles, and turquoise with the river Pueblos. Pecos Indians were middlemen, traders and consumers of the goods and cultures of the very different people on either side of the mountains. They became economically powerful and practiced in the arts and customs of two worlds.
Pecos Indians remained Puebloan in culture-despite cultural blendings-practicing an ancient agricultural tradition borne north from Mexico by the seeds of sacred corn. By the late Pueblo period, the last few centuries before the Spaniards arrived in the Southwest, people in this valley had congregated in multi-storied towns overlooking the streams and fields that nourished their crops. In the 1400s these groups gathered into Pecos pueblo, which became a regional power.
A Spanish conquistador described the pueblo in 1584 set on a "high and narrow hill, enclosed on both sides by two streams and many trees. It has the greatest and best buildings of these provinces and is most thickly settled." The people had "quantities of maize, cotton, beans, and squash," and the pueblo was "enclosed and protected by a wall and large houses, and by tiers of walkways which look out on the countryside. On these they keep their offensive and defensive arms: bows, arrows, shields, spears, and war clubs."
Like other Pueblo groups, the Pecos people enjoyed a rich culture with inventive architecture and beautiful crafts. Their elaborate religious life, evidenced by many ceremonial kivas, reached out to the nurturing spirits of all things, animate and inanimate.
Fine-tuned adjustments to their natural and cultivated world rested on practical science infused with spirituality. By story and dance tradition-bearers conveyed the knowledge and wisdom of centuries past. Individual, family, and social life were regulated via a religion binding all things together and holding balance, harmony, and fitness as the highest ideals.
But ideals did not always prevail. Warfare between Pueblo groups was common. The frontier people of Pecos had to be vigilant with nomadic Plains Indians, whose intent-trade or war?-could be unpredictable. Neighboring pueblos saw the Pecos as dominant. The Spaniards soon learned that the Pecos could be determined enemies or powerful allies.
Before the Puebloans
First to settle here were pre-pueblo people who lived in pit houses along drainages about 800 CE. Around 1100, the first Puebloans began building their rock-and-mud villages in the valley. Two dozen villages rose here over the next two centuries, including one where Pecos pueblo stands today. Sometime in the 14th century the settlement patterns changed dramatically. Within one generation small villages were abandoned and Pecos pueblo grew larger. By 1450 it had become a well-planned frontier fortress five stories high with a population of more than 2,000.
Land and Life
The land around the pueblo was a storehouse of natural products the Pecos knew intimately. They used virtually every plant for food, clothing, shelter, or medicine and turned every part of the game they hunted into something useful.
Farming supplied most of their diet. The staple crops were the usual trio of corn, beans, and squash cultivated along Glorieta Creek and the area's many drainage's. Water was as important to the Pecos as to us. They built check dams to slow the runoff of rain and grew their crops where topsoil collected. Yields were apparently considerable. In 1541, Coronado found the Pueblo storerooms piled high with corn, a three-year supply by one estimate.
Location, power, and the ability to supply needed goods made Pecos a major trade center on the eastern flank of the Puebloan world. Pecos Indians bartered crops, clothing, and pottery with the Apaches and later the Spaniards and Comanche's for buffalo products, alibates flint for cutting tools, and slaves. These Plains goods were in turn swapped west to other pueblos for pottery, parrot feathers, turquoise, and other items. Trading could go quickly or take weeks. Rings left by tipi's set up for long spells of bartering are still visible in the area. Uneasy relationships between Pueblos and the Plains tribes made hostilities a continual threat. The rock wall circling the pueblo, a relic from trading days, was too low to serve a defensive purpose. It was probably a boundary other tribes were not allowed to cross.
Change Comes to Cicuye Pueblo
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado pursued a vision quest in 1540. Leading an army of 1,200 men, Coronado made his way into he country north of Mexico. Six months into the march he rode into a cluster of Zuni pueblos, Cibola, near present-day Gallup. He attacked the Zuni at Hawikuh, taking over that principal town and its food stores for his famished soldiers.
At Cicuye-which would be called "Pecos" by the Spanish-150 miles east, the reception was different. The Indians welcomed the Spaniards with music and gifts. A Plains Indian captive at Pecos told of a rich land to the east, Quivira, and Coronado set out in spring 1541 to find it. Wandering as far as Kansas, he found only a few villages. His Indian guide confessed he lured the army on to the plains to die, and Coronado had him strangled.
The expedition turned back. After a bleak winter along the Rio Grande, the broken army returned to Mexico empty-handed, harassed by Indians most of the way. In Coronado's sojourn to Cicuye, the Pecos Indians had their first interaction with a strange new world; they had watched gray-clad priests plant crosses for their gods. But the strangers went away and the Pueblos settled back into their old ways.
Colonizers and Missionaries
Nearly 60 years passed before Spaniards came to New Mexico to stay. New Spain's frontier had slowly advanced with the discovery of silver in northern Mexico. In 1581, explorers began prospecting for silver in the land of the Pueblos. Their failures foreshadowed a truth that determined much of Spanish New Mexico's history: that province held neither golden cities nor ready riches. But the fact that settlers could farm and herd there focused the joint strategies of Cross and Crown: Pueblo Indians could be converted and their lands colonized.
Don Juan de Oñate was first to pursue this mixed objective, in 1598. Taking settlers, livestock, and 10 Franciscans he marched north to claim for Spain the land across the Rio Grande. Right away he assigned a friar to the pueblo the Spanish would call Pecos, the richest and most powerful New Mexico. The new religion got off to a shaky start. After episodes of idol-smashing provoked Indian resentment, the Franciscans sent veteran missionary Fray Andrés Juárez to Pecos in 1621 as healer and builder. Under his direction the Pecos built an adobe church south of the pueblo, the most imposing of New Mexico's mission churches-with towers, buttresses, and great pine-log beams hauled from the mountains.
The ministry of Fray Juárez from 1621 to 34 coincided with the most energetic mission period in New Mexico, now a royal colony. It was a Franciscan-led time of mission building and expansion. Its success bred conflict-church and civil officials vied for the Pueblo Indians' labor, tribute, and loyalty. The Indians suffered these struggles as religious and economic repression.
War and Reconquest
Decades of Spanish demands and Indian resentments climaxed in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Indians in scattered pueblos united to drive the Spaniards back to Mexico. At Pecos, loyal Indians warned the local priest but most followed a tribal elder in revolt. They killed the priest and destroyed the church.
Twelve years later, led by Diego de Vargas, the Spaniards came back to their lost province, peacefully in some places but with the sword in others. De Vargas expected fighting at Pecos, but opinion had shifted. The Indians welcomed him back and supplied 140 warriors to help retake Santa Fe. A smaller church built on the old one's ruins was the first mission reestablished after the Reconquest, and most Pecos sustained Spanish rule until it ended.
In return, the Franciscans moderated their zeal. The practice of encomiendas (paying tribute) was abolished. As allies and traders, the Pecos became partners in a relaxed Spanish-Pueblo community. Archeologists now believe the kiva near the mission may have been concurrent with the second grand church. (The remains of that church and two reconstructed kivas and may be visited at Pecos National Historical Park.)
By the 1780s, disease, Comanche raids, and migration reduced the population of Pecos to fewer than 300. Longstanding internal divisions-those loyal to the Church and things Spanish versus those who clung to the old ways-may have contributed to this once powerful city-state's decline.
The function of Pecos as a trade center faded as Spanish colonists, now protected from the Comanches by treaties, established new towns to the east. Pecos and the mission seemed almost ghostly when Santa Fe Trail trade began flowing past in 1821. The last survivors left the decaying pueblo and empty mission church in 1838 to join Towa-speaking relatives 80 miles west at Jémez pueblo, where their descendants still live today.
Forked Lightning Ranch - Tex Austin; the Fogelsons:
And Then There Was Tex
When 20-year-old Clarence Van Nostrand left home in 1908, he reinvented himself for a life of adventure. He changed his name to John Van Austin, but everyone knew him as "Tex." Although born into a strict St. Louis household, he claimed to have been born and raised on a cattle ranch in Victoria, Texas.
After working on New Mexico and Texas ranches and briefly joining the Mexican Revolution, Tex Austin started producing rodeos. From his first in El Paso in 1917 to his last in London, England in 1934, Tex was known for his generosity and showmanship. When he produced the first Madison square Garden Rodeo in 1922, the prize money was a record $25,000. Tex had other "firsts":
- The first recorded indoor rodeo in Wichita, Kansas (1918)
- First rodeo ever held in Chicago Stadium (1926)
- First contest rodeo to go overseas--some 114,000 people attended his 1924 rodeo in London's Wembley Stadium.
Everyone agreed that Tex possessed "tremendous charm and bluff" and "spent his last dollar like it was a leaf and he owned the forest." Tall and lanky, he was not considered a decent working cowhand by his cowboys, but "he did learn to wear a big hat and to sit his saddle as if born to the leather."
In 1925, Tex bought up parcels of land on the old Pecos Pueblo Grant and called his 5,500 acre holdings the "Forked Lightning Ranch." The remains of Kozlowski's Stage Stop and Tavern on the Santa Fe Trail (1858-1880) became part of his new holdings, which Tex converted into ranch headquarters and a trading post.
He hired architect John Gaw Meem to design and build the main ranch house on a bluff above the Pecos River. (The assignment was one of Meem's first. He later became famous throughout the Southwest for his "Pueblo Revival" buildings.) All rooms in the rectangular house faced a grassy patio. Its defining touch was a huge, specially sculpted steer head mounted outside on the chimney.
When Tex decided to run a dude ranch at the property, he advertised it as "the most complete, modern and comfortable ranch house in the West. The life of the romantic West is at its doors."
"Way out west an' a Little Bit South"
Tex hoped for a share of the growing East Coast tourist market to New Mexico. The ranch, after all, was less than two days by train from Chicago: "Thirty-four hours, and you're out where the West is--and will be for some time." Train travelers disembarked at Rowe, just a few miles down the road.
For $125 a week, 18 guests sharing nine bedrooms received "all proper service...to insure the comfort and friendly atmosphere of a country home...Feed--and how!...served ranch style...in big heaping dishes. Pitch till you win and no one keeps track of the helpings!" A highlight? "Pack and chuck wagon trips to the high peaks."
The Forked Lightning was a working cattle ranch, too, reputed to run several thousand head of cattle on 100,000 acres of leased grazing land in the valley. One story had Tex taking the train to Chicago, finding a bar, and then complaining to patrons that he had all this cattle to go to Las Vegas, New Mexico, for loading on the train and no one to do the work. He found "dudes" who volunteered to take the trip to Forked Lightning at their own expense just for the chance to be on a cattle drive. After the animals were at Las Vegas, Tex took the train back to Chicago and complained about all the animals he had at Las Vegas that he needed to get to his ranch!
The dude ranch only operated for seven years; the last guests left in May 1933. Tex had heavily mortgaged the ranch and couldn't pay the debt. A year later, his attempt to produce another London rodeo fell on hard times--British animal rights groups tried to stop the show on the grounds that steer-wrestling was cruel. Tex lost more than $20,000.
After losing the ranch, Tex moved to Santa Fe and opened the Los Rancheros Restaurant near the Plaza. In October 1938, Tex committed suicide. Rumor at the time was he had been told he was going blind. Tex Austin, the "Daddy of Rodeo," was named to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1976.
A New Breed
In 1936, W. C. Currier bought the Forked Lightning Ranch, and five years later sold it to E. E. "Buddy" Fogelson, a Dallas oil man and rancher. Over the next 25 years, Mr. Fogelson purchased land to the south, expanding the ranch to 13,000 acres. The Forked Lightning became a small cattle ranch and Tex's ranch house the Fogelson summer home.
After Mr. Fogelson married the actress Greer Garson in 1949, the ranch house became a center for gracious entertaining. Active in ranch life, Mrs. Fogelson unsuccessfully tried to raise white Shorthorns imported from her native Scotland. While attending a cattle auction in 1958, Mr. Fogelson impetuously purchased a purebred Santa Gertrudis bull named "Gee Gee" which, with three heifers purchased at the same auction, became the foundation for the Forked Lightning Santa Gertrudis herd.
Santa Gertrudis, the first officially recognized American breed of cattle, was developed on the famous King Ranch in Texas. A cross between a Brahma and Shorthorn, the breed resulted from an effort to produce good beef animals better suited to the heat, humidity, and range conditions of South Texas. When Mr. Fogelson brought Santa Gertrudis to the Forked Lightning it was the first time the breed was wintered at high altitude. A tireless promoter of the breed, Mr. Fogelson was the first to exhibit Santa Gertrudis at the New Mexico State Fair in 1961.
When Mr. Fogelson died in 1987, the Forked Lightning was divided along the old southern boundary line of Tex's original Forked Lightning. Greer Garson Fogelson received the "old" Forked Lightning Ranch and Mr. Fogelson's son inherited the southern portion. In January 1991, Mrs. Fogelson sold the Forked Lightning to The Conservation Fund, which donated it to the National Park Service to become part of Pecos National Historical Park.
The ranch house has remained relatively unchanged. Tex's Forked Lightning brand still marks the original fixtures in the living and dining rooms and the steer head still stares down the Pecos. It is not difficult to imagine the famous and not so famous gathered around the huge fireplace, sipping drinks on the wide front porch, or enjoying the sun on the patio, all basking in the warm atmosphere that welcomed so many guests for more than 60 years.
The winter tour schedule (Labor Day through Memorial Day) features van trips to:
Arrowhead Ruin on Fridays at 1:30 p.m.;
Glorieta Pass Battlefield on Saturdays at 1:30 p.m.; and the
Forked Lightning Ranch House on Sundays at 1:30 p.m.
Reservations are strongly advised for all van tours (call 505.757.7241).
Reservations for tour groups and school groups should be made two weeks before visit.
If you'd like to see the park on your own, you can walk a 1.25 mile self-guided trail through Pecos pueblo and the mission ruins. There's also a 2.3 mile Civil War Battlefield Trail; sign in at the Visitor Center and rangers will provide you with a gate code for access to the trail, and you can also purchase a self-guided interpretive trail map for $2.00.
The Visitor Center features museum exhibits with text in English and Spanish, a bookstore with gift shop, and a 12-minute introductory film available in either English or Spanish.
There's a picnic area near the mission ruins, and also one at the Visitor Center.
Please note that fishing at Pecos NHP has been suspended by the Superintendent out of concern for river ecology, park resources and visitor safety.
Pecos National Historical Park is 25 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico off of Interstate 25. Visitors traveling north on I-25: take exit 299 on to HWY 50 to Pecos village and south two miles on State Road 63. Those traveling south on I-25: take exit 307 and proceed four miles north to the Park on State Road 63.