Today our adventure is taking us back to Pecos National Historical Park, where we briefly stopped as we were coming toward Santa Fe a week and a half ago. This park is a little-visited treasure.
The history of the Pecos Native Americans and their way of life is captured in this park through a film, exhibit in the visitor center and an interpretative trail that takes you through the Pueblo area. There is a self-guided handout to refer to as you head down the trail. The handout discusses the impact of the Spaniards and Catholic Church on this ancient settlement.
Location location location. The location of this Pueblo is everything. On a trade route between the farming people of the Rio Grande Valley and the Plains Indian hunters, and built on a high ridge near a creek and river. The Pueblo at its largest was four to five stories high and home to 2,000 people.
In the 1540’s, the Spaniards came looking for gold and to colonize, followed by the Franciscan friars to convert the people to Catholicism. A huge church was built on the site via the forced labor of the Pecos people. In 1680 there was a revolt by all the Pueblo people against the Spaniards, driving them out of this area. Sadly, next came the Comanche, drought, disease and migration of the people, reducing number and power of the original Pecos inhabitants. Eventually, there were only around 100 people, who finally left the Pueblo and moved to the Jemez Pueblo where they have kept some of their culture alive. This is the short version. While out in this area, it isn’t difficult to visualize the Pueblo city being here.
In the 1880’s, Adolf Bandelier spent time documenting the ruins of this particular Pueblo as he traveled throughout the southwestern United States documenting Native Americans life through archeology and ethnology.
The Church was originally erected on the site in the 1600’s. It was huge and the Spaniards taught the Pecos how to make bricks that interestingly enough are still around today in some of the ruins. The National Park Service personnel keep the ruins from washing away by replacing bricks in the same way as was done those hundreds of years ago.
This picture says to me that God’s presence must still be felt in this, the ruins of a mission church.
The surrounding landscape of this high plains arid region is beautiful, very Georgia O’Keefe picturesque . The cholla plants are everywhere.
Water is precious here and when it rains, small arroyos form. As the sun rises in the sky, the smell of cedar, juniper and buffalo gourd, and the sight and sounds of grasshoppers and beetles proliferate. This is a arid paradise on the Colorado Plateau.
A beautiful hiking experience and a great way to spend a morning. This park is a gem.