C. A. (Charles A.) Higgins.

To California over the Sante Fé Trail online

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2,678 feet long, 26 feet high and 17 feet wide;
the floor is 7,548 feet above the sea; walls, roof
and two air shafts are lined with concrete; in
building this tunnel $230,000 was spent for labor
alone, and 9,020 different laborers were employed
during the thirteen months required for construction,
the force being replaced seven times.

At such a Rubicon the preliminary stages may
fairly be said to end.

And here, too, a few words may properly be said
of the Maxwell Land Grant, a princely domain
once owned by the American Fur Company, now
belonging to a foreign syndicate. The Santa Fe
is built along its eastern edge for sixty miles south
of Raton Pass. This rich empire of two million acres
is being occupied by miners, farmers and ranchers.

A scenic highway, used by autos and carriages,
has been built from Trinidad to Raton, up and
down Raton Pass, along the old trail. It forms
part of the projected interstate road from
Cheyenne to El Paso.


A LTHOUGH your introduction is by way of a
-t\. long tunnel, followed by a winding moun-
tain pass down whose steep incline the train rushes
to regain the low level from which the journey
was begun, you will find New Mexico a territory
in the sky. If its mountain ranges were leveled
smoothly over its valleys and plains the entire area
of more than I2O,OOO square miles would stand
higher above the sea than the summit of any peak
of the Catskills or the Adirondacks. Its broad
upland plains, that stretch to a horizon where
wintry peaks tower high above the bold salients of
gray-mottled foothills, themselves lie at an altitude
that in the Eastern States must be sought among

the clouds, and at no time will you fall much below
an elevation of 5,000 feet in traversing the portion
of the territory that lies along the present route. 4

The landscape is oriental in aspect and flushed
with color. Nowhere else can you find sky of
deeper blue, sunlight more dazzling, shadows more
intense, clouds more luminously white, or stars that
throb with redder fire. Here the pure rarefied air
that is associated in the mind with arduous moun-
tain climbing is the only air known dry, cool and
gently stimulating. Through it, as through a crys-
tal, the rich red of the soil, the green of vegetation,
and the varied tints of the rocks gleam always
freshly on the sight.

You are borne over mountains above forests of
pine and fir, with transient glimpses of distant
prairie; through canyons where fierce rock walls
yield grudging passage and massive gray slopes bend
downward from the sky; along level stretches by
the side of the Great River of the North, whose
turbid stream is the Nile of the New World; past
picturesque desert tracts spotted with sage, and
past mesas, buttes, dead volcanoes and lava beds.

These last are in a region where you will see
not only mountain craters, with long basaltic slopes
that were the ancient fiow of molten rock, but
dikes as well ; fissures in the level plain through
which the black lava oozed and ran for many miles.
These vast rivers of rock, cracked, piled, scattered
in blocks, and in places overgrown with chaparral,
are full of interest, even to the accustomed eye.


They wear an appearance of newness, moreover,
as if the volcanic action were of recent date; but
there has been found nothing in native tradition
that has any direct bearing upon them. Doubtless
they are many centuries old.

Geologically their age is of course determinable,
but geology deals in rock epochs; it talks darkly of
millions of years between events, and in particulars
is careful to avoid use of the calendar. It is well
to remember that the yesterday of creation is singu-
larly barren of mankind. We are practically con-
temporaries of Adam in the history of the cosmos,
and all of ancient and modern history that lies
between is a mere evanescent jumble of trivialities.
Dame Nature is a crone, fecund though she be, and
hugging to her breast the precious phial of rejuve-
nescence. Her face is wrinkled. Her back is bent.
Innumerable mutations lie heavy upon her, briskly


though she may plot for to-morrow. And nowhere

can you find her more haggard and gray than here.

You feel that this place has always worn much
the same aspect that it wears to-day. Parcel of
the arid region, it sleeps only for thirst. Slake
that, and it becomes a garden of paradise as by a
magic word. The present generation has proved
it true in a hundred. localities, where the proximity
of rivers or mountain streams has made irrigation

The confines of the Great American Desert are
narrowing rapidly. Do but reflect that a quarter
century back the journey you now make in perfect
comfort was a matter of wild adventure, at cost of
months of arduous travel and at hazard of life, not
only because of human foes, but for scarcity of food
and water. One never appreciates the full stride
of American progress until he has traversed in a
Pullman car such a territory as this, where Valley
of Death and Journey of the Dead are names still
borne by waterless tracts, and justified by bleached
bones of cattle and lonely mounds of scattered

Rescued from centuries of horror and planted
in the front rank of young rising States by the
genius of our generation, New Mexico is aland of
broad ranges, where hundreds of thousands of sleek
cattle and countless flocks of sheep browse upon
the nutritious grasses ; where fields of grain wave
in the healthful breeze ; where orchard trees bend
under their weight of luscious fruits, and where


the rocks lay bare inexhaustible veins of precious


Here may be found to-day as profitable large
ranches as any in the country, and innumerable
small aggregations of cultivated acres, whose owners
sit comfortably upon shaded verandas while their
servants till the field. This is the paradox of a
region whose softer scenes will often seem to be
overborne by bleak mountain and desert and lava
bed; that if you own ten acres of irrigated land
here you are that much-vaunted but seldom en-
countered individual, an independent farmer. You
may smile in a superior way when you hear talk of
the profits of bank stocks. You may look without
envy upon the man who is said to own a gold mine.

Scattered by the way are sleepy Mexican villages,
ancient Indian pueblos, still inhabited, and those
older abandoned ruins which give to the region its
peculiar atmosphere of mystery. The history of
New Mexico formerly began with a pretty legend
that dated back to a time in Spain when a sover-
eign, fighting amid his native mountains, found
himself hemmed in by the enemy, and would have
perished with all his army had not one of his enter-
prising soldiers discovered an unsuspected pass, the
entrance to which he marked with a bleached
cow's skull that lay convenient to his hand, and
then returning led a retreat through the pass to
safety. By order of the grateful king the family
name of the soldier was thereupon made Cabeza
de Vaca cow's head to celebrate so opportune a

service. It is to be hoped he got a doubloon or
two as well, but on that particular head tradition
is silent. However, among the soldier's descend-
ants a talent for discovery became a notorious fam-
ily trait. It amounted to a passion with them.
You could not get into any difficulty but a
Cabeza de Vaca could find you a way out. Natu-
rally, then, when Narvaez set sail from Spain for
the Florida coast, three and a half centuries ago,
he took one of that family along for a mascot.
The expedition came to grief on the Florida reefs,
but the mascot survived, and with him three others
who had wisely clung to him when the ship went
to pieces. Stranded upon an unknown coast, men-
aced by hostile Indians, an ocean behind and a
wilderness before, this Cabeza de Vaca felt his
heart strangely stirred within him. He gave no
thought to the dangers of his situation ; he per-
ceived only that he had the opportunity of a life-
time to discover something. So, remembering that
in far Mexico his fellow countrymen were known to

dwell, he pretended to pull a long face and told his

companions that to reach the Mexican settlements
was the only hope of surviving. Then brandishing his
sword in a becoming manner he called to them to
come on, and led them across the unexplored con-
tinent of North America, in the year of grate
1536, by a route which incidentally included what
is now known as New Mexico. Thus, in sub-
stance, runs the legend, which adds that he had a
queer tale to tell, on arrival, of Seven Cities of
Cibola, and outlandish people of heathen appear-
ance and notions, but of temperate and industrious
habits withal, and presumably rich in treasures of
silver and gold ; which incited Coronado to send
out an expedition under Marcos de Nizza in 1539,
and a year later himself to take charge of the first
real invasion, conquering native towns by force of
arms on his way.

But in the light of modern historical research
Cabeza de Vaca's local fame dwindles; his head
diminishes. It is denied that he ever saw New
Mexico, and the title of discoverer is awarded to
Marcos de Nizza. It does not really matter, for
in either event the conquest was by Coronado, in
whose footsteps Spanish colonization was first
enabled to advance into the territory, which, it
should be remembered, was for a long time there-
after a vaguely defined area of much greater extent
than to-day. The friars early began their work of
founding missions, and in the course of time estab-
lished forty churches, attended by some 30,000

native communicants. These natives revolted in
1680, and drove the Spaniards out of the territory,
successfully resisting their return for a period of
twelve years. From the time of their ultimate
subjection (1692) the country grew in population
and commercial importance until, early in the pres-
ent century, its trade with Missouri and the East
became very valuable. The route traversed by
pack-mules and prairie schooners loaded with mer-
chandise will forever be remembered as the Santa
Fe Trail, and was almost identical with that fol-
lowed by Coronado.

It is at present for the greater part of the dis-
tance the route of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa
Fe Railway between the Missouri River and Santa
Fe ; and through western Kansas, southeastern
Colorado, over the Raton Pass and at many points
in New Mexico, may easily be seen from the train.
The distance was 800 miles, and a round trip then
consumed 1 10 days.

Merchandise to an enormous value was often
carried by a single caravan. In spite of the pro-
tection of a strong military escort the trail was
almost continuously sodden with human blood and
marked by hundreds of rude graves dug for the
mutilated victims of murderous Apaches and other
tribes. Every scene recounted by romances of
Indian warfare had its counterpart along the Santa
Fe Trail. The ambush, the surprise, the, mas-
sacre, the capture, the torture, in terrifying and
heart-breaking detail, have been enacted over and

Only with the advent of the rail-
road did the era of peace and secur-
ity begin. To-day the Apache is
decimated and harmless, and, with
the Pueblo Indian and the Mexican, forms a romantic
background to a thriving Anglo-Saxon civilization.

It is this background that gives New Mexico its
peculiar charm to the thoughtful tourist; not alone
its tremendous mountain ranges, its extensive
uplands, its fruitful valleys, or its unsurpassed
equability of climate. Its population includes 9,500
Pueblo Indians, 4,000 Navajos and 1,350 Apaches.


The Culebra and Cimarron ranges of the Rockies
shut in the lower western sky as the train whirls
along southward from Raton to Las Vegas. En
route you pass Springer, whence stages run to the
Red River mines and to Taos pueblo; Wagon
Mound, a former Mexican frontier customhouse and
a picturesque point on the Santa Fe trail; and Wat-
rous, at the head of Mora Canyon, near old Fort
Union. Mora Canyon is fifty miles long, a rather
modest affair, compared with Apache Canyon and
the greater gorges of Arizona, but typical of this
land of deeply cutting streams. Within a few miles
of Watrous is Valmora Ranch, at an altitude of
6,300 feet. Its thousand level acres lie in the valley
of the Coyote, protected by high mesa lands. Here
a new sanitarium has been established, where one
may enjoy pure air, sunshine and outdoor life.

The little Rio Gallinas issues by a tortuous path
through rugged, tree-fringed canyon walls from a
spur of the Rockies half a dozen miles northwest
from the city of Las Vegas. These vegas or
meadows gradually broaden until they finally open
up into the broad New Mexican plain that sweeps
away toward the southeast. Almost at the verge
of plain and mountain, the city of Las Vegas has
grown into prominence. It is the commercial
metropolis of northern New Mexico, and the second
city in the Territory in size and importance. Its
8,000 inhabitants, with the consequent social life,
its important wool-shipping interests, and the fact
that it is the headquarters of the New Mexican
division of the Santa Fe, may not in themselves be
things to attract special attention from the traveler.
But there are other things at Las Vegas.

First of all for the stranger, there has been
built a new hotel, so conspicuous in its comfort
and its attractions as to command attention. The
Castaneda it is called, erected a few years ago
near the depot, and combining the functions of
a railway dining-room and hotel. It is a long,
low building two stories high, faced with brick,
roofed with red tiles, and patterned after

The. Castaneda.

the old California missions. This hotel is strictly
modern throughout in equipment and in manage-
ment. It is under the direction of Fred Harvey,
whose name stands as a synonym of satisfactory
hotel management.

Las Vegas itself, with its large stores, banks,
offices, hotel, and town life, its attractive climate
and its accessibility, entertains many a stranger in
the course of a year, and is steadily growing in
popularity as a resort. Its surroundings, readily
visited by strangers, offer varied forms of entertain-


Traveling from Las Vegas to Albuquerque the
Glorieta range of the Rockies is crossed through
Glorieta Pass (altitude, 7,453 feet). Theupclimb
takes you near Starvation Peak, best s.een from
Chapelle station. One legend says that a large
band of Spaniards was surrounded here by Nava-
jos in 1800 and starved to death; another story
ascribes the cross on summit to the Brotherhood of
Penitentes. However the name may have origi-
nated, the peak itself is a prominent landmark.

Not far from the main line, the head waters of
the Pecos River can be reached a famous haunt

Ptteblo of Taos.

El Ortiz, Lamy, N. M.

of the black-spotted mountain trout. Within ten
miles of Glorieta there are a number of deep pools,
which, carefully whipped with the proper flies, will
yield trout weighing up to four pounds. Parties
wishing to fish in the Pecos can find accommoda-
tions at Windsor's, twenty miles from Glorieta.
Every little pool in the Mora River, a tributary of
the Pecos near this point, seems to be alive with
trout, though the larger fish are more abundant in
the main* stream. Rainbow and eastern brook
trout are nearly as plentiful as the native varieties
a rare combination in objects of the angler's desire.

The crumbling ruins of old Pecos Church
most venerable pile in New Mexico are four
miles from Pecos station, on the mythical site of
that Aztec city where Montezuma is said to have
been born.

The downward ride is through Apache Canyon,
where, in 1847, noted battles were fought between
Kearney's Army of the West and the Mexicans,
and in 1862 between Federal and Confederate
forces. Even here in the mountain solitudes war
would not be denied its cruel harvest.
3 1

At Lamy (named for the good archbishop) there
is a branch line to Santa Fe, and a new station
hotel, El Ortiz, a low, one-story building, fash-
ioned like a Mexican adobe, and managed by Fred

The main line continues along the tortuous
Galisteo River to the Rio Grande del Norte at
Domingo, and down that sluggish stream of the
sand-bars to Albuquerque, the commercial metrop-
olis of central New Mexico.

Albuquerque, the point of junction of three lines
of the Santa Fe System that from the East, that
to the Pacific Ocean, and that to the Mexican
boundary has never been extensively advertised
as a health resort, though it possesses valid claims
for being so considered. Its attractions have
been multiplied by the erection of a splendid rail-
way hotel, the Alvarado, conducted, as is the Cas-
taneda at Las Vegas, by Fred Harvey. As the
traveler leaves the train, this hotel is his first
and most enduring impression. A wide-spreading,
low building, like a great Spanish mission save for
its newness ; rough, gray walls, and a far-reaching
procession of arches; a red-tiled roof with many
towers this is the Alvarado. It looks out across
the plain to where purple distant peaks are set
against a turquoise sky. Behind it lies the city;
before it the valley stretches to the shouldering
hills. The hotel proper is more than a hundred
yards long, sixty yards wide, and is built around a

Starvation Peak

court or peristyle, as its general archi-
tecture demands. It is connected by a
two hundred foot arcade with the new
Santa Fe depot, an edifice in perfect
harmony with the artistic lines of the
main structure. In form and color, as
well as historical association and the detailed beauty
of its generous plan, the Alvarado is a distinct archi-
tectural achievement. Inside, the Spanish effect in
decoration is thoroughly and consistently observed.
The dining hall is the largest room in the building.
Its furnishings, severely elegant in design, contrast
pleasantly with the snow and glitter of the tables ; a
great projecting fireplace adds the inevitable cheer
of an open hearth. But of the hotel, as such,
nothing need be said except that it is the master-
piece of the Harvey system ; and this fact, to the
traveler who knows, is all-sufficient.

It furnishes to the tourist a most luxurious
stopping-place in the midst of a trans-continental
journey an enjoyable and interesting rest on the
way to California.

A special attraction which the Alvarado offers,
not to be duplicated elsewhere, is a very fine
collection of Indian relics and products gathered
during years of studious effort. In Moki, Navajo,
Zuni, Apache, Pima and Mexican treasures of
handicraft this collection is well nigh unrivaled,
and more than justifies a halt in the attractive
hotel which houses it. It is planned to here
assemble Navajo and Moki weavers, potters,

silversmiths and basketmakers engaged in their
various crafts. A model of an Indian pueblo is
shown; also the finest wares from all the neigh-
boring region.

Albuquerque itself lies at an altitude of 4,935
feet above sea level, on a sunny slope of a broad
plain, amply protected against sudden storms by the
neighboring high mountain ranges. The winters
are generally open and bright, and the atmosphere
almost wholly devoid of humidity. The ancient
settlement dates back to the Spanish invasion,
while the new town, with a population of 10,000
Americans and all the improvements of a young
city, had its beginning with the advent of the Santa
Fe Railway.

But Albuquerque, aside from its life as a new
commercial center, makes other and more subtle de-
mands upon the attention ; while not equal to Santa
Fe as a picture of the past, the years have also
touched it with old colors. The Mexican quarter
the old town still sleeps in the sun as it did a
century two centuries ago. And all about it
are the dwellings of the most conservative people,
the Pueblos of the Rio Grande valley, living as
their fathers lived before the first invader came.


In 1605 the Spaniards founded this city under the
name La Ciudad Real de la Santa Fe de San Fran-
cisco (the True City of the Holy Faith of St. Francis),

North Entrance > The Alvarado.

which, like many another ponderous Spanish title,
has been reduced to lower terms in the lapse of time.
It occupies a plain rimmed by mountains whose
peaks tower to heights of 10,000 and 13,000 feet.
The extraordinary interest of its early days is kept
alive by monuments which the kindly elements pro-
tect from the accustomed ravages of the centuries.
The territorial governor until recently received his
guests in the same room that served visitors in the
time of the first viceroy. Nineteen American and
seventy-six Mexican and Spanish rulers have suc-
cessively occupied the palace. Here it was that
General Lew Wallace wrote "Ben Hur." It has
survived all those strange modulations by which a
Spanish province has become a territory of the
Union bordering on statehood. The story of the
palace stretches back into real antiquity, to a time
when the Inquisition had power, when zealous
friars of the Order of St. Francis exhorted throngs
of dimly comprehending heathen, and when the
mailed warriors of Coronado told marvelous uncon-
tradicted tales of ogres that were believed to dwell
in the surrounding wilderness. Beneath its roof are
garnered priceless treasures of that ancient time,
which the curious visitor may behold. There are
faded pictures of saints painted upon puma-skins,
figures laboriously wrought in wood to shadow
forth the Nazarene; votive offerings of silver, in the
likeness of legs, arms and hands, brought to the
altar of Our Lady by those who had been healed
of wounds or disease; rude stone gods of the

heathen, and domestic utensils and implements of
war. There, too, may be seen ancient maps of the
New World, lettered in Latin and in French, on
which California appears as an island of the Pacific,
and the country at large is confidently displayed with
grotesque inaccuracy.

Nearly a mile distant from the palace, on an
eminence overlooking the town, stands the old
Chapel Rosario, now neighbored by the Ramona
school for Apache children. In 1692 Diego de
Vargas, marching up from the south, stood upon
that hill with his little army of 2OO men and looked
over into the city from which his countrymen
had been driven with slaughter a dozen years
before. There he knelt and vowed to build upon
the spot a chapel for the glorification of Our Lady
of the Rosary, provided she would fight upon
his side.

The town was carried by assault after a des-
perate contest of eleven hours' duration, and the
chapel was built. It savors quaintly to us of a less
poetic age that those royal old adventurers should
have thought themselves hand and glove with the
celestial powers; but they certainly made acknowl-
edgment of services rendered upon occasion.

There are other places of antiquarian interest,
where are stored Spanish archives covering two
and a quarter centuries, and numerous paintings
and carvings of great age; the Church of Our
Lady of Light, the Cathe-
dral of San Francisco, and

finally the Church of San Miguel and the Old
House, isolated from everything that is in touch
with our century by their location in the heart of
a decrepit old Mexican village. Here, at last, is
the real Santa Fe of the traveler's anticipation ; a
straggling aggregation of low adobe huts, divided
by narrow winding lanes, where in the sharply
defined shadows leathern-faced old men and women
sit in vacuous idleness and burros loaded with fire-
wood or garden truck pass to and fro; and in small
groups of chattering women one catches an occa-
sional glimpse of bright interrogating eyes and a
saucy face, in spite of the closely drawn tapelo.

If now some sturdy figure in bright, clanking
armor should obligingly pass along, you would
have an exact picture of the place as it appeared
two and a half centuries ago. Nothing but that
figure has departed from the scene, and substan-
tially nothing new has entered in. It does not
change. The hurrying activities and transitions of
the outer world, from which it is separated by only
a narrow arroyo, count for nothing here. One
questions if the outline of a shadow has altered for
generations. The Old House, where Coronado is
said to have lodged in 1540, and the Church of
San Miguel, which was sacked in 1680, are not
distinguishable from their surroundings by any air
of superior age. All is old,
a petrifaction of medieval
human life done in adobe.

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Online LibraryC. A. (Charles A.) HigginsTo California over the Sante Fé Trail → online text (page 2 of 11)