Today we went to Las Vegas and didn’t gamble – or see any casinos. Maybe this can be explained by the fact that we were driving through Las Vegas, New Mexico located about an hour east of where we are staying in Santa Fe.
On the way to Las Vegas we visited the Pecos National Historical Park where 2000 Pecos Indians lived in a huge 5 story pueblo located on a high narrow hill. The location served as a trade center for the Pecos and the Plains tribes. The Spaniards and priests arrived and built a large church but, in their efforts to convert the Indians, they smashed their idols and attempted to fill in their kivas with sand. Kivas are large holes in the ground with a roof and a ladder for entering and exiting. We have seen a lot of kivas so far on our trip. They are ceremonial and social spaces located between the underworld, where the people had their origin, and the world above where they live now and were central to the Indians religious beliefs. During The Pueblo Revolt in 1680 the priest was killed, the church destroyed and-symbolizing their discontent-the Indians built a kiva in the church yard. Twelve years later the Spaniards returned and a new church was built on the foundation of the original. The remains of that church are what we photographed. From 1915-1929 an archeologist named Alfred Kidder conducted site excavations here going back more than 2,000 years. One of the things we found interesting about his findings while examining the great trash mound was that the dead were discarded here. This seems incompatible with a culture with such an elaborate religious life infused by spirituality.
We drove a bit north of Las Vegas and visited Fort Union National Monument. There were 3 different forts here. The first (1851-61) was a collection of shabby log buildings and was established to protect travelers on the nearby Santa Fe Trail from Indian threats and provide headquarters for the Ninth Military Dept. The second (1861-62) was a massive earthwork designed to help defend the Santa Fe Trail against a threatened Confederate invasion but it never saw the action for which it was designed. The invasion was halted and turned back in 1862 before reaching the fort and it was abandoned soon afterward. The third (1863-91) was almost a city in itself and at one time 3,000 people lived here. It served as the principal supply base for the Military Dept of New Mexico. Shipments of supplies arrived from the east over the Santa Fe Trail, were unpacked, stored in warehouses and then were assigned as needed to other forts. Troops from the fort participated in operations against Indians until peace, on the white man’s terms, was achieved in 1875. In 1879 the Santa Fe Railroad replaced the Santa Fe Trail as the principal avenue of commerce and the fort had outlived its usefulness.
On both of the sites we visited we walked over, beside and around the old Santa Fe Trail many times today. In many cases it took a lot of imagination to see the ruts they claimed were right in front of us but in sometimes we could definitely see the depression in the ground from years of wagons passing by. We saved $12 in entry fees with the Old Geezer pass bringing our total savings for the trip so far to $72.
Tomorrow will be our longest travel day of the trip going to Colorado Springs Colorado 330 miles away.
Picture link – http://sdrv.ms/NnTz52