National Geographic : 1938 May
NEW MEXICO MELODRAMA For seven summers The Society's repre sentatives searched abandoned rooms for scraps of information from which the life once lived here could be reconstructed. They learned that Pueblo Bonito was the creation of two Pueblo peoples, so culturally unlike they probably spoke different lan guages. One had occupied the site and farmed its neighboring fields for genera tions before the second group arrived about 1000 A. D. Sixty years later they initiated an extensive rebuilding campaign. It was this second group that gave Pueblo Bonito its far-flung prestige; that built and rebuilt until they exhausted the limited local forest and brought about an erosion prob lem they could not control. In a remarkable piece of scientific detec tive work, Dr. A. E. Douglass determined the age of the ruins by a study of the tree rings in their charred and weathered beams. Pueblo Bonito was abandoned about 1150 A. D.* IN AN EDEN OF FERTILITY Sharply in contrast with such dusts of antiquity is bustling modern life in fertile San Juan Valley, 40 miles north. From turbulent cattle wars in east New Mexico, many stock raisers moved here years ago. Now local hogs and lambs take top prices at Denver and Los Angeles markets; much wool is shipped, and many horses, mules, and cattle are raised. Between Farmington and Fruitland, on U. S. No. 550, whispering cottonwoods arched overhead like giant Malayan ferns to form a shady lane. From roadside or chards rose the fragrance of big red ap ples. Husky, good-looking maids in over alls climbed ladders to help with the picking. Morning-glories bloomed among the cockleburs along irrigation ditches, and great silver tanks of a Continental oil refinery glistened in the sun. Though less important than the rich fields of south eastern New Mexico, these San Juan Basin fields, with Rattlesnake and Hogback domes, have yielded millions of barrels of oil. Natural gas is piped far. Though local travel flows north and south between Durango and Gallup, few transcontinental riders suspect that hidden away up here in northwest New Mexico, tucked between the Southern Ute and * See, in THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for December, 1929, "The Secret of the South west Solved by Talkative Tree Rings," by Andrew Ellicott Douglass. Navajo Reservations, lies such an Eden. This trip is worth taking, if only to see Ship Rock, which rises nearly 1,900 feet above the flat plains of Navajo Reserva tion. This mighty landmark is one of Nature's odd pranks in rock sculpture. Navajos say it was once a big bird that flew here from the north, with their ancestors riding on its back! After the people climbed off, it turned to stone (page 534). "HEAP LONG IRON" CARRIES OIL Parallel with U. S. Highway No. 666, which runs straight south to Gallup, men in welders' helmets were laying a pipe line. "Don't stare at that electric torch!" a workman warned a Navajo bystander. "It'll sunburn your eyeballs." "Ugh!" grunted the Indian. "Heap long iron!" So it was-a piece of welded pipe stretching 96 miles to tanks in Gallup. Since Kit Carson helped General Kearny put the Navajos on this reservation, they have multiplied enormously. Good stock raisers, they also make most of the Indian blankets and jewelry that figure in South west trade. Weaving they learned from captive Pueblo women. To them Gallup is the center of the world. They flock to this town every August, with members of some thirty other tribes, for the annual Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial. ON INSCRIPTION ROCK MEN HAVE CUT MESSAGES FOR CENTURIES Drive some sixty miles southeast from Gallup and you come to Inscription Rock, in El Morro National Monument. Some call it the stone autograph of New Mexico, because of many white men's names and Indian signs cut on its steep, smooth sides. Among legible inscriptions Juan de Ofiate's name is first. Returning from "discovering the South Sea," he carved his record here on April 16, 1605 (page 546). Dating from the 1620's to 1774, some fifty other Spanish inscriptions appear on the rock. Higher up are Indian petro glyphs, which have never been deciphered. Says one carving: Lt.J.H.SimpsonUSA&R.H.Kern Artist visited and copied these inscriptions, September 17 18th 1849 Later other passing Americans left their names and dates; sometimes people come here to read these names, looking for clews to forbears who "went West" in immigrant days and were never heard from.