Joe’s Blog: The History of the Santa Fe Railroad

Joe’s Blog: The History of the Santa Fe Railroad

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Santa Fe remains synonymous with railroads, thanks to the continued existence of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, even though a merger in 1994 with Burlington Northern all but obliterated Santa Fe’s name from the new company. Now known as BNSF, future generations will certainly not recall the colorful history of the AT&SF Railroad, nor the origins of the name of the BNSF.

Long before this merger, in the beginnings of the western expansion of the railroads, the AT&SF was formed in 1859 to connect Kansas with Santa Fe, the legendary capital of the newly formed New Mexico territory. However, unknown to most, there was another railroad that served Santa Fe. Ironically, the AT&SF never even reached the capital, as the elevation grade made routing through Santa Fe impractical. But the grades were nothing for the tough narrow gauge (3 feet wide) railroad known as the Denver and Rio Grande (D&RG), incorporated in 1870 to build tracks from Denver to Santa Fe. Its company emblem was scribed with the words: “Through the Rockies, not around them.”

Bat Masterson & Doc Holliday – Characters of the Old American West – images from wikipedia.org

The history of the conflicts between the AT&SF and D&RG railroads is legendary. Competition for the lucrative routes that would link the silver and gold riches of Utah and Colorado with the rest of the country eventually led to a conflict between the AT&SF and the upstart Denver D&R). The dream of the upstart D&RG owners was to eventually connect Denver with El Paso Texas, an arduous task to say the least. The fierce competition between the two railroads intensified until literally a war broke out over the lucrative Southern Colorado Arkansas River basin, where a narrow gateway named the Royal Gorge gave access to the many mines of western Colorado.

The Royal Gorge War was intense, violent and even involved hired gunslingers such as Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson. It looked like the AT&SF would secure the lucrative routes through force of arms until a circuit court ruling in the D&RG’s favor proved decisive. Armed now with the force of the law, the D&RG was free to pursue a direct line connecting Colorado with Santa Fe. Believing a narrow gauge design to be superior in the mountainous terrain between Antonito and Santa Fe, the company began laying a narrow gauge track south from southern Colorado to Santa Fe. The narrow track was layed within the portion of the D&RG from Antonito, Colorado, on through the small New Mexico towns of Tres Piedras, Taos Junction, Embudo, Espanola and eventually on to Santa Fe. This section was nicknamed the “Chili Line” in honor of New Mexico’s premier and distinctive crop, but its official name was the Santa Fe Branch. Though the majority of western commercial traffic would continue to go to the AT&SF, the Chili Line leg of the D&RG began construction in 1880, eventually, providing a valuable link between the small and isolated northern New Mexican and southern Colorado farmers and ranchers and the country’s larger markets.

Due to its remote nature from Antonito, Colorado, down through desolate Northern New Mexico to Santa Fe, the Chili Line would be an informal one. The engineers and fireman “often stopped to shoot jackrabbits and coyotes. Sometimes passengers joined in the sport… In the little town of Tres Piedras, the train would meet ‘a yellow mongrel dog…’ The engineer tossed off a newspaper daily which the dog picked up and carried to the home of its owner.” (The Evening Independent -St. Petersburg, Florida: Associated Press- September 2, 1941).

The Rio Grande Zephyr in 1983 – image from wikipedia.org

Ironically, the court decision to bring peace between the AT&SF and the D&RG prevented D&RG to go further south than Espanola, so another train company was formed, named the Texas, Santa Fe and Northern Rail Road Company, and in 1886, the Chili Line arrived in the Santa Fe Railyards. The Chili Line continued its operations until 1941 when transportation by truck began the erosion of the small narrow gauge “feeder lines” throughout the country. But it didn’t end there, the final successor inter-city train, known as the Zephyr, continued service until the mid 1980s.

So, at least 3 Railroads have used the Santa Fe Railyards for depots, not just the more famous one, the AT&SF, whom as I said in the beginning, has itself fallen to the fate of time and is now only represented by 2 letters behind the BR of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, whose harsh orange engines laboriously pull double decked railcars from China across the country-side.

A visit to Santa Fe should always include a tour of the Santa Fe Railyards where the original depots of these railroads can be seen. And where else to stay but the Inn on the Alameda, conveniently located near the Plaza and Canyon Road as well. If you don’t feel like walking, our free courtesy car will gladly drop you off and pick you up at your convenience.

The Summer Monsoon

The Summer Monsoon Many people are surprised to find out that Santa Fe’s rainy season corresponds almost exactly to the height of the tourist season – July and August. They become even more alarmed when the locals refer to this as the...

read more

Santa Fe remains synonymous with railroads, thanks to the continued existence of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, even though a merger in 1994 with Burlington Northern all but obliterated Santa Fe’s name from the new company. Now known as BNSF, future generations will certainly not recall the colorful history of the AT&SF Railroad, nor the origins of the name of the BNSF.

The D&RG on the Narrow Gauge. Image from ngdiscussion.net

The D&RG on the Narrow Gauge. Image from ngdiscussion.net

 

Long before this merger, in the beginnings of the western expansion of the railroads, the AT&SF was formed in 1859 to connect Kansas with Santa Fe, the legendary capital of the newly formed New Mexico territory. However, unknown to most, there was another railroad that served Santa Fe. Ironically, the AT&SF never even reached the capital, as the elevation grade made routing through Santa Fe impractical. But the grades were nothing for the tough narrow gauge (3 feet wide) railroad known as the Denver and Rio Grande (D&RG), incorporated in 1870 to build tracks from Denver to Santa Fe. Its company emblem was scribed with the words: “Through the Rockies, not around them.”

Bat Masterson & Doc Holliday - Characters of the Old American West - images from wikipedia.org

Bat Masterson & Doc Holliday – Characters of the Old American West – images from wikipedia.org

 

The history of the conflicts between the AT&SF and D&RG railroads is legendary. Competition for the lucrative routes that would link the silver and gold riches of Utah and Colorado with the rest of the country eventually led to a conflict between the AT&SF and the upstart Denver D&R). The dream of the upstart D&RG owners was to eventually connect Denver with El Paso Texas, an arduous task to say the least. The fierce competition between the two railroads intensified until literally a war broke out over the lucrative Southern Colorado Arkansas River basin, where a narrow gateway named the Royal Gorge gave access to the many mines of western Colorado. The Royal Gorge War was intense, violent and even involved hired gunslingers such as Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson. It looked like the AT&SF would secure the lucrative routes through force of arms until a circuit court ruling in the D&RG’s favor proved decisive.   Armed now with the force of the law, the D&RG was free to pursue a direct line connecting Colorado with Santa Fe. Believing a narrow gauge design to be superior in the mountainous terrain between Antonito and Santa Fe, the company began laying a narrow gauge track south from southern Colorado to Santa Fe. The narrow track was layed within the portion of the D&RG from Antonito, Colorado, on through the small New Mexico towns of Tres Piedras, Taos Junction, Embudo, Espanola and eventually on to Santa Fe. This section was nicknamed the “Chili Line” in honor of New Mexico’s premier and distinctive crop, but its official name was the Santa Fe Branch. Though the majority of western commercial traffic would continue to go to the AT&SF, the Chili Line leg of the D&RG began construction in 1880, eventually, providing a valuable link between the small and isolated northern New Mexican and southern Colorado farmers and ranchers and the country’s larger markets.

The Rio Grande Zephyr in 1983 - image from wikipedia.org

The Rio Grande Zephyr in 1983 – image from wikipedia.org

 

Due to its remote nature from Antonito, Colorado, down through desolate Northern New Mexico to Santa Fe, the Chili Line would be an informal one. The engineers and fireman “often stopped to shoot jackrabbits and coyotes. Sometimes passengers joined in the sport… In the little town of Tres Piedras, the train would meet ‘a yellow mongrel dog…’ The engineer tossed off a newspaper daily which the dog picked up and carried to the home of its owner.” (The Evening Independent -St. Petersburg, Florida: Associated Press- September 2, 1941). Ironically, the court decision to bring peace between the AT&SF and the D&RG prevented D&RG to go further south than Espanola, so another train company was formed, named the Texas, Santa Fe and Northern Rail Road Company, and in 1886, the Chili Line arrived in the Santa Fe Railyards. The Chili Line continued its operations until 1941 when transportation by truck began the erosion of the small narrow gauge “feeder lines” throughout the country. But it didn’t end there, the final successor inter-city train, known as the Zephyr, continued service until the mid 1980s.

So, at least 3 Railroads have used the Santa Fe Railyards for depots, not just the more famous one, the AT&SF, whom as I said in the beginning, has itself fallen to the fate of time and is now only represented by 2 letters behind the BR of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, whose harsh orange engines laboriously pull double decked railcars from China across the country-side.

A visit to Santa Fe should always include a tour of the Santa Fe Railyards where the original depots of these railroads can be seen. And where else to stay but the Inn on the Alameda, conveniently located near the Plaza and Canyon Road as well. If you don’t feel like walking, our free courtesy car will gladly drop you off and pick you up at your convenience. Oh, yes…remember to order a :”Sidecar” when you are dining or cocktailing in the Agoyo Lounge.

The Summer Monsoon

The Summer Monsoon

Many people are surprised to find out that Santa Fe’s rainy season corresponds almost exactly to the height of the tourist season – July and August. They become even more alarmed when the locals refer to this as the “monsoon”. Monsoon?! Visions of Delhi submerged under six feet of muddy water fill their heads. Images of Myrna Loy drenched in the streets of Ranchipur haunt them. It’s not quite like that here in August, however – although a few opera lovers might disagree.

A late afternoon sky in Santa Fe, in July

Monsoon has its roots in the Arabic language and it refers to a seasonal shift in the wind. In the American Southwest, toward the end of June or early in July, the prevailing westerly winds shift to southerly ones, bringing tropical moisture up from Mexico. Dew points climb. Mornings dawn with unusual mildness and the sun rises through screens of vapor over the mountains:

Morning sky over the Sangre de Cristo

Even on mornings that start off in golden clarity, it won’t be long before the powerful sun begins to boil the atmosphere:

Late morning sky over the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market

Before you know it, an unexpected rumble of thunder fills the air and the breath of rain-cooled air sweeps over the city.

Most of these summer thundershowers are brief and only last 20 minutes or so. That’s just enough time to dodge under a welcoming portal and enjoy a respite from the sun. They are notorious for erupting right as the Santa Fe Opera lights its spacious stage for an opening. Many a production has been enhanced by the sturm und drang of a flaring late evening storm over the western mountains. Everyone comes to love them because of the way they cool down the evening to perfect sleeping weather. The afternoon sky is full of drama:

Ominous Afternoon

 

Vistas Enhanced By The Wonderful Atmospherics

And we admit it: sometimes you just get a traditional old rainy day, right in the middle of your summer vacation. You swear you’ll throttle the next local who says, “well, we need the moisture”. Even on these days the rain is bound to pause once in a while, to reveal heights wreathed in cloud and mist:

Bali Hai in Santa Fe

Of course, too much of a good thing is not always wonderful. You could be walking your dog in the arroyo one moment:

Walking the dog in the Santa Fe River

And the next running for the hills:

A Sudden Surge of Water

This is a legitimate natural hazard, and one which you must be aware of in the summer when you are visiting our part of the country. Lightning is another danger, as is hypothermia, for those hikers that are enjoying a walk high in the mountains. Someone is struck and killed by lightning up in the highlands nearly every year.

Golden Asters in Bloom

So don’t forget to tuck in a travel umbrella when you come to visit us this summer. Bring a sweater if you’re planning to attend the Opera: that rain-chilled air is cooler than you probably expected. And keep you eyes open for rainbows – our summer sky is festooned with them:

Walking into the rainbow

Sometimes Even Two!

The Summer Monsoon

The Summer Monsoon Many people are surprised to find out that Santa Fe’s rainy season corresponds almost exactly to the height of the tourist season – July and August. They become even more alarmed when the locals refer to this as the...

read more

Mike’s Blog: The Heart of Santa Fe, The Plaza

Mike’s Blog: The Heart of Santa Fe, The Plaza

The_Governor’s_Palace,_in_which_Lew_Wallace_wrote_Ben-Hur

Few cities are more inextricably tied to a central physical space than Santa Fe is to the Plaza. The Santa Fe Plaza provided a definition and boundary between the state of ‘civilization’ for the Spanish and the ‘frontier’ without.

In creating the Plaza and binding it with the central institutions of Spanish culture (the Church, the Palace of the Governors and the court), the colonists defined the space as the re-creation of their central identity. The Plaza symbolized the colony and in return, the colony became defined by the Plaza.

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The settlement of the Plaza was among the earliest acts of Don Pedro de Peralta’s establishment of Santa Fe in 1610. This consisted of a presidio (Fort) with a large surrounding wall.

All the elements of Spanish civilization were present within the square, including: the prison, barracks, a chapel, the Palace of the Governors, and private residences. In a very real sense ‘civilization,’ as defined by the Spanish, thrived within a clearly delineated boundary.

The Plaza served as the grand end-point of the Camino Real during the peak of New Mexico’s colonization, which is significant because Camino Real marked the great North/South trade route that connected Mexico with the New Mexican colonies. Linking the interior of North America with the markets of New Spain and Spain proper ensured Santa Fe’s importance in continental trade. From its establishment in the 17th century until the development of the Santa Fe Trail, the Camino Real was the primary artery of trade.

San_Francisco_Street
Jake_Gold’s_Old_Curiosity_Shop_(aka_Gold’s_Free_Museum)_2

As New Mexico was settled and Santa Fe prospered, the Plaza became the terminus of the famed Santa Fe Trail. Blazed in 1821, the trail was a difficult journey through unforgiving landscapes and hostile native tribes, and stretched all the way from St. Louis to Santa Fe.

As New Mexico became part of the United States, the trail was crucial in the opening of The West and the settlement of the territory. The terminus is still found today in the Plaza, and a prominent stone marks the official end of what was once a vital mercantile artery. Elements of this mercantile still exist today. One of which is the historic ‘Burro Alley,’ and another, the former horse corrals on Camino Corrales. These streets were areas of unloading and stabling of livestock – important elements of overland trade.

The_Burro_book_(Page_17)_(6025805236)

Over time, the Plaza became a place of pulsing activity, further reinforcing its significance to the place and time. Historical elements, like the original Palacio (Palace of the Governors), remain and testify to the boundaries of the space. New structures, representing emerging architectural schools, sprung up around the space. Among the landmarks in the Plaza were the Civil War monuments erected following the war.

The_plaza,_Santa_Fe,_New_Mexico,_by_Continent_Stereoscopic_Company
Historic_plaza_and_’Rebel’_monument,_Santa_Fe,_New_Mexico

One of the most notable was a controversial obelisk dedicated “To the heroes who have fallen in the various battles with Savage Indians in the Territory of New Mexico.” Controversy over the wording erupted in 1973 when the Santa Fe city council, responding to requests from the Governor and activists in the American Indian Movement, voted to have the monument removed. Resistance to the removal came from numerous sources, but it was the Federal Government’s threats to remove funding for the space (coinciding with the upcoming bicentennial) that settled the issue once and for all. The monument, with its inflammatory language, remained.

The monument to Kearny (the ‘conqueror’ of the New Mexico territory) and the Indian Wars represents the ways in which the Plaza continues to define the identity of the New Mexican and the ‘dialogue’ between place and people. The word ‘Savage’ on the monument was scratched out following the resolution of its non-removal, and the unofficial vandalism exists as an informal compromise between the voices of the past and the needs and rights of the modern community.

The Plaza continues to be a vital part of Santa Fe today. Native artisans display their wares along the old Palace of the Governors, an unbroken continuum of commerce and artistry stretching back five centuries. Young children run and play while older teens begin their courtship rituals or practice skateboarding or hacky sack.

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World-class galleries compete for space with the Five and Dime and the Tamale cart alike. Visiting the Plaza today emphasizes the continuance of Santa Fe, including the contradictions inherent in this dynamic city identity, and provides an opportunity to ‘live as a local’. Annual events like the Fiestas de Santa Fe, the Indian market, and the Santa Fe Bandstand continue to draw locals and tourists alike – and no visit to Santa Fe is complete without a trip to the Plaza.

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Structures like the New Mexico History Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum emphasize the arts and history that have always been a crucial part of Santa Fe’s identity. These artistic institutions form a link with the galleries of Canyon Road and Museum Hill, a pulsing vein of artistry that runs through this high desert land.

The Palace of the Governors remains in situ, and has been called the longest continuously used seat of government in the United States. Over its long history, multiple flags have flown over, those of New Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy and the United States, but the one thing that has remained the same in both symbolism and historical significance, is the Plaza.

We at the Inn on the Alameda look forward to seeing you in Santa Fe soon, and please remember that when you stay at the Inn, that Enchanting Small Hotel in Old Santa Fe, you are only a five minute stroll away from the Plaza!

–Joe and Michael Schepps

The Summer Monsoon

The Summer Monsoon Many people are surprised to find out that Santa Fe’s rainy season corresponds almost exactly to the height of the tourist season – July and August. They become even more alarmed when the locals refer to this as the...

read more

Palace of the Governors oldFew cities are more inextricably tied to a central physical space than Santa Fe is to the Plaza. Santa Fe Plaza provided a definition and boundary between the state of ‘civilization’ for the Spanish and the ‘frontier’ without. In creating the Plaza and binding it with the central institutions of Spanish culture (the Church, the Palace of the Governors and the court), the colonists defined the space as the re-creation of their central identity. The Plaza symbolized the colony and in return, the colony became defined by the Plaza.

Santa Fe Plaza OldThe settlement of the Plaza was among the earliest acts of Don Pedro de Peralta’s establishment of Santa Fe in 1610. This consisted of a presidio (Fort) with a large surrounding wall. All the elements of Spanish civilization were present within the square, including: the prison, barracks, a chapel, the Palace of the Governors, and private residences. In a very real sense ‘civilization,’ as defined by the Spanish, thrived within a clearly delineated boundary.

The Plaza served as the grand end-point of the Camino Real during the peak of New Mexico’s colonization, which is significant because Camino Real marked the great North/South trade route that connected Mexico with the New Mexican colonies. Linking the interior of North America with the markets of New Spain and Spain proper ensured Santa Fe’s importance in continental trade. From its establishment in the 17th century until the development of the Santa Fe Trail, the Camino Real was the primary artery of trade.

Burro AlleyAs New Mexico was settled and Santa Fe prospered, the Plaza became the terminus of the famed Santa Fe Trail. Blazed in 1821, the trail was a difficult journey through unforgiving landscapes and hostile native tribes, and stretched all the way from St. Louis to Santa Fe. As New Mexico became part of the United States, the trail was crucial in the opening of The West and the settlement of the territory. The terminus is still found today in the Plaza, and a prominent stone marks the official end of what was once a vital mercantile artery. Elements of this mercantile still exist today. One of which is the historic ‘Burro Alley,’ and another, the former horse corrals on Camino Corrales. These streets were areas of unloading and stabling of livestock – important elements of overland trade.

Over time, the Plaza became a place of pulsing activity, further reinforcing its significance to the place and time. Historical elements, like the original Palacio (Palace of the Governors), remain and testify to the boundaries of the space. New structures, representing emerging architectural schools, sprung up around the space. Among the landmarks in the Plaza were the Civil War monuments erected following the war. One of the most notable was a controversial obelisk dedicated “To the heroes who have fallen in the various battles with Savage Indians in the Territory of New Mexico.” Controversy over the wording erupted in 1973 when the Santa Fe city council, responding to requests from the Governor and activists in the American Indian Movement, voted to have the monument removed. Resistance to the removal came from numerous sources, but it was the Federal Government’s threats to remove funding for the space (coinciding with the upcoming bicentennial) that settled the issue once and for all. The monument, with its inflammatory language, remained. The monument to Kearny (the ‘conqueror’ of the New Mexico territory) and the Indian Wars represents the ways in which the Plaza continues to define the identity of the New Mexican and the ‘dialogue’ between place and people. The word ‘Savage’ on the monument was scratched out following the resolution of its non-removal, and the unofficial vandalism exists as an informal compromise between the voices of the past and the needs and rights of the modern community.

Santa Fe BandstandThe Plaza continues to be a vital part of Santa Fe today. Native artisans display their wares along the old Palace of the Governors, an unbroken continuum of commerce and artistry stretching back five centuries. Young children run and play while older teens begin their courtship rituals or practice skateboarding or hacky sack. World-class galleries compete for space with the Five and Dime and the Tamale cart alike. Visiting the Plaza today emphasizes the continuance of Santa Fe, including the contradictions inherent in this dynamic city identity, and provides an opportunity to ‘live as a local’. Annual events like the Fiestas de Santa Fe, the Indian market, and the Santa Fe Bandstand continue to draw locals and tourists alike – and no visit to Santa Fe is complete without a trip to the Plaza.

Structures like the New Mexico History Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum emphasize the arts and history that have always been a crucial part of Santa Fe’s identity. These artistic institutions form a link with the galleries of Canyon Road and Museum Hill, a pulsing vein of artistry that runs through this high desert land. The Palace of the Governors remains in situ, and has been called the longest continuously used seat of government in the United States. Over its long history, multiple flags have flown over, those of New Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy and the United States, but the one thing that has remained the same in both symbolism and historical significance, is the Plaza.

We at the Inn on the Alameda look forward to seeing you in Santa Fe soon, and please remember that when you stay at the Inn, that Enchanting Small Hotel in Old Santa Fe, you are only a five minute stroll away from the Plaza!

Joe and Michael Schepps

Mike and Joe

 

The Zen Forest

The Zen Forest

The Winsor Trail is Santa Fe’s gateway into the Pecos Wilderness from the west.
Its most popular trailhead is near the western end of the large parking area of Ski Santa Fe, at an elevation of 10,240 feet. On the map for which I’ve provided a link, the portion of the trail from the parking area to its intersection with the Nambe Lake Trail is shown, a walk of about 2.5 miles one way. There is a relentless elevation gain of 760 feet in about a mile, to reach the crest of Raven’s Ridge and the entrance to the Pecos Wilderness, so be prepared – this is the price everyone must pay to enjoy this beautiful walk.

Dogs on leashes, mountain bikes, and livestock are allowed on the Winsor Trail. You can hike this trail year round, but it is snow covered in the winter and snowshoes or cross-country skis might be necessary. Thunderstorms are very frequent in the summer and you’ll want to bring at least some light rain gear, because the showers are chilling. Lightning and hypothermia are dangers once you get above tree line.

The Winsor Trail, the local hiker’s route into the magnificent Pecos Wilderness east of Santa Fe, is beautiful from end to end, but there is a short section that passes through a grove of trees with such a remarkable quality of light and peace that I call it the “Zen Forest”.  And since you can reach this place after only a two mile walk from the parking area at Ski Santa Fe, it makes an ideal destination for a day hike during your visit with us.

A walk in the “Zen Forest” along the Winsor Trail above Santa Fe

I’m not sure exactly what accounts for the appeal of this stretch of aspen.

The mature trees, tall and widely spaced, let in a generous amount of the radiant northern light. The dark spruces are widely spaced as well, and hang their dark boughs down in a manner admired by the Arts and Crafts printmakers, contrasting beautifully with the bright upright aspen. Huge boulders and outcroppings of white stone emerge from the forest floor in sculptural forms, nestled in a sea of bright green heath and wildflowers. At any moment in this forest, you expect to hear the sound of temple bells, or catch a glimpse of a forest hermit reclining in the shadows.

Light and aspen

And the fragrance here is heavenly. In summer the air is drowsy with the balsamic scent of spruce needles, warming in the sun. In spring the powerful life-force of the tasseling aspen adds its note.

And in fall, with the yellow leaves swirling down against an alpine blue sky and collecting on the stones, there arises the subtle fragrance of oriental lilies, faint but unmistakable, distilled somehow from the aspen leaves as they participate in the Eternal Return.

It’s hard for me to tell you exactly when you’ve reached the Zen Forest. Not too long after you’ve left the dense spruce thickets along the slow descent from the saddle at Raven’s Ridge, the trail begins to turn to the right, and aspen begin to replace the dark evergreens.

Forest Service bridge over the Rio Nambe

These trees grow larger, the light magnifies, and presently you’ll reach a spruce whose branches sweep toward the trail, forcing adults to genuflect ever so slightly. You’ve entered the grove. By the time you reach the rustic little bridge over the Rio Nambe, you’ve left it.

Wildflowers are abundant here. In spite of the high elevation, some of these forest dwellers have an almost tropical luxuriance:

Golden Banner

A spray of Corn Lily near the Rio Nambe

The clean white boulders that crop out in the Zen Forest add to the grove’s luminosity. A closer look at these rocks reveals complex patterns that hint at turbulent past lives.

Without leaving the thread of our story too far, I just want to mention that these are truly remarkable rocks. They are called migmatites, and they represent metamorphic rocks that have been subjected to geologic conditions so extreme that the rocks began to partially fuse, bleeding white granitic melt and contorting into fascinating marble-like patterns.

Ancient metamorphic rock on the forest floor

When you reach the cheerful Rio Nambe and leave the Zen Forest, you will catch views of Santa Fe Baldy shouldering its great massif skyward, to the north.

Santa Fe Baldy, looking north from a clearing near the Rio Nambe

This might even be your destination, if you are in good shape and you’ve left the trailhead early enough, on a cool summer’s morning. You’d be about a third of the way there, with a climb to a rocky summit at 12,622 feet still facing you. But you might be content instead to sit quietly by the stream and take in the peace of the forest, and then make your way back home, blessed by your brief sojourn among the aspen of the Zen Forest.

Heading home

A Rocky Mountain iris in a meadow near the Winsor trailhead

Getting there: The parking area at Ski Santa Fe is approximately 16 miles from the Santa Fe Plaza, at the very end of NM 475. From the Inn on the Alameda, you turn north on Paseo de Peralta, and then turn right at the light at the intersection of Paseo with Hyde Park Road. A second right at the next light, which is Artist Road, or NM 475, puts you on your way. The Winsor Trail trailhead is clearly marked at the northwestern corner of the parking area, and the Forest Service maintains some pit toilets and picnic facilities there. It would not hurt to bring a trail map if this is your first walk on the Winsor Trail. You can download the PDF from the link I provided above, or purchase a map at the Travel Bug right next door to the Inn.

The Summer Monsoon

The Summer Monsoon Many people are surprised to find out that Santa Fe’s rainy season corresponds almost exactly to the height of the tourist season – July and August. They become even more alarmed when the locals refer to this as the...

read more

Joe’s Blog: A Santa Fe 4th of July

Joe’s Blog: A Santa Fe 4th of July

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*Unfortunately due to ongoing concerns over COVID 19 Santa Fe has cancelled all 4th of July Festivities*

Many flags have flown over Santa Fe from long before the first celebration of the 4th of July. New Mexico would not become any legal part of the United States until 1848 following the Mexican-American War. So the first 4th of July celebration was most likely observed when New Mexico entered the Union as a Territory (no elected representation in Washington), which she remained until gaining Statehood in 1912. Prior to this, there was a rich tradition of religious and civic festivals such as the Santa Fe Fiesta and the various Catholic saint days that made up an important part of colonial life.

In the United States, the original 13 colonies created most of the national celebrations, while religious observances handled the others. While the Congress passed a Resolution of Independence from England on July 2, 1776, it was not until 2 days later that the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence – on July 4th. In the following year in Rhode Island, the 4th was saluted with the firing of 13 guns representing the 13 original colonies.

This most certainly was the beginning of a tradition of firework displays in all communities and backyards throughout the nation.

But remember, while the firing of the 13 cannons mark this day, any conscientious citizen owes it to himself and nation to contemplate the meaning of this day of independence and what it represents. We embraced the spirit of the Enlightenment and freed ourselves from the chains of monarchy and foreign rule, embarking upon the most unique voyage of religious, political and civic freedoms the world has seen.

Happy 4th of July!

m-shutterstock_122202538

The Summer Monsoon

The Summer Monsoon Many people are surprised to find out that Santa Fe’s rainy season corresponds almost exactly to the height of the tourist season – July and August. They become even more alarmed when the locals refer to this as the...

read more
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