Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

November 12, 2015

We headed out Thursday on US 60 going East
towards Mountainair, NM

Our first stop was at an open air restaurant in Mountainair called
the Bakery for lunch. A friend had recommended we try this
place and we are glad we took her advice. Lunch was delicious
and the bakery items we bought, for later, were also excellent.

Buildings around town. The bottom one which is connected
to the two on the right top is the Municipal Court. The center
building looked vacant and the one above is a recreation center.
Not sure what the building on the left was but the
sculpture out front was interesting.
Paintings on the side of three buildings in Mountainair.

This, as the sign says, is the Visitor Center and Headquarters
for the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.
Here we were able to obtain information about the three
Missions and watch a short movie about the three Pueblos.
Plus we were able to get our "passport" stamp.

The Salinas Valley was occupied as early as the 10th Century, first by Mogollon then Anasazi cultures, who established major trade centers that served both the Rio Grande villages and the Plains Indian tribes. Franciscan missionaries built mission complexes at each of the Salinas Pueblos. What remains today are austere yet beautiful reminders of the early contact between the Pueblo Indians and Spanish Colonials. Severe drought, Apache raids and an epidemic forced the abandonment of the pueblos in the 1670s.

There are ruins of mission churches at Abo and Quarai,; these are the two we chose to visit on this trip. There are two more churches at Gran Quivira, which we hope to visit next time we come this way.

It was first proclaimed Gran Quivira National Monument on November 1, 1909. It was listed on the National Register of Historical Places on December 19, 1980. It was enlarged when two New Mexico State Monuments were absorbed into it on November 2, 1981 and now comprises a total of 1,100 acres. It was renamed on October 28, 1988.

Interesting information we learned from one of the rangers, by tradition the woman and children of the community did most of the building of the masonry house blocks of the Pueblo and Mission structures.

She also mentioned parts of the structures we see today were refurbished and rebuilt by the CCC. Research on the internet stated that stabilization of the walls did take place in the 1930's and was done by the CCC. Further reading talks about several stabilization and excavations throughout the years. (Above information from a card  obtained at Visitor Center and the internet.)

Our first stop was the Quarai ruins about 8 miles north of Mountainair.

The view of the church as you approach the
Quarai Contact Station and Museum.

Contact Station on right and Museum on left.

The first sign you see as you start down the trail.
Our grandson, Noah, is always asking if we have seen any
rattlesnakes. Well Noah this is why we have not, we are
respecting their privacy.

It is a small museum located here but well worth the time to walk in and view the displays and information boards. There is a lot of information about the Quarai Pueblo.

I am including below pictures I took of some of the information boards. This is information I wanted to have, you can just scroll past. All the information is written in both English and Spanish but wanting to get the best possible shot for reading I did not include the Spanish.

Starting down the trail.

1830 Church
The foundations seen here are 200 years younger then the
surrounding walls of the Pueblo and mission of Quarai.
When Spanish settlers moved back to the Salinas district,
 they started to build a small church here, using old
mission stones. The church was never finished.
(from sign in front of this foundation)

Inside the Church

Looking up at front entrance
to church.

South Convento
 The trail circles around through a wooded area past the south mound and a picnic area.

This picture was taken from the picnic area.

Leaving the Quaria Ruins we traveled back through Mountainair and then West about 9 miles to the Abo Ruins.

Road into the ruins with the mountains as a back drop.

First view of  the ruins as we pulled into the parking area.

Across the road from above picture.

As can be seen in the above picture there is a lot of
unexcavated area at this Pueblo. The Ranger on duty
told us, at this time, there are no plans for any further
excavation at this site.


Close up of walls.

It was at this point the battery died and there are no more pictures of this ruin.

Abo was a thriving community when the Spaniards visited in 1581. But disaster struck this Pueblo as it did the other Salinas Pueblos and sometime between 1672 and 1678 the people of Abo left to take refuge in towns along the Rio Grande.

After spending time here we continued West on US 60 back home to the Crusader. It was a day well spent learning some of the history of this country we call home. Some of it beautiful and some of it hard to learn but important to know just the same. We are looking forward to spending time exploring the third Pueblo, Gran Quivira.

"If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday."
                                                            ~Pearl Buck


  1. Looks like you had a wonderful day trip.

    1. We did, it was interesting to learn about the history and the weather was perfect.