Geologic forces uplifted 290-million-year-old ocean deposits to form the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Glorieta Mesa. Later, the rush of rivers created Glorieta Pass, a natural gateway through the mountains and mesas.
Glorieta Pass became a cultural crossroads through which hunters and gatherers, traders, conquerors and explorers, immigrants, soldiers, ranchers, and tourists passed. Walk the trails and imagine Pecos through the centuries: the bustling sounds of the trade fairs between the people of Pecos Pueblo and the Plains Indians, the clang of swords and Spanish armor, the smell of incense burning in Spanish missions, the rumble of thousands of wagons traveling the Santa Fe Trail, the gnawing hunger in your stomach after drought killed your crops, and the burst of artillery shells at Glorieta Pass.
Finally, imagine the careful scraping and digging of archeologists' tools uncovering mysteries of the past. Imagine cattle grazing under the bright blue sky. Listen to the stories. Explore sites where cultural demonstrations and traditional practices continue todaya living legacy of the people who passed this way. Welcome to Pecos, where the past is present.
Cicuye/Pecos Pueblo (1350-1838)
Located on the busy trade route between the farming people of the Rio Grande Valley to the west and the Plains Indian hunters to the east, Cicuye, later called Pecos Pueblo, was built on a high ridge near abundant water supplies. It grew into one of the largest and most powerful pueblos, rising four to five stories high, home to 2,000 people.
The Pecos peoples' life and traditions were deeply rooted in ancient Puebloan customs and religious beliefs. Kivas, underground ceremonial rooms, were connections to the spiritual world. The people believed prayers, rituals, and offerings brought good fortune and helped maintain balance and harmony in all things. The Pecos followed ancestral farming practices and set aside food for the winter in massive storerooms.
While balance and harmony were important ideals, warfare was common. With 500 warriors Pecos was considered the dominant power, as newcomers to the area soon realized.
Land and Life
For Cross and Crown (1541-1680)
In 1541 Spain sought to colonize the land, converting area tribes to Catholicism and creating citizens loyal to the crown. When trying to convert the people of Pecos in 1610, Franciscan friars destroyed kivas, smashed statues, and banned Pueblo ceremonies. The Pecos resented this interference with their traditional ways.
Arriving in 1621, Fray Andrés Juárez acknowledged the culture, language, and beliefs of the Pecos people, while trying to educate and convert them. Under his direction a large mission church was built with native labor, and relations between the church and the Pecos people improved for a time.
Some converted, but many just tolerated the Spaniards, paying required tributes and suffering cruel treatment when they did not. Resentment grew as they were forced to follow religious practices in secret.
The Spanish government and Franciscan friars were increasingly at odds with each other as both vied for social and economic control.
Then, one man worked to coordinate many distinctive groups of Pueblo peoplealong with Utes, Navajos, and Apachesto defeat the Spaniards. His plan was daring and dangerous. Could it succeed?
Revolution, Rebirth, and Decline (1680-1838)
By 16800, years of Spanish control, famine, disease, and Apache raids had taken a toll on the Pecos and other Pueblo people. Spaniards had tried to eradicate every aspect of ancestral Pueblo life.
Po' pay (1630-88), a Pueblo religious leader, wanted to end Spanish domination of the Pueblo world. His message was prosperity and independence. He secretly united many of the separate Pueblos to rise up against the Spaniards. Once the plan was made, runners carried knotted cords to the villages. The number of knots indicated the number of days until the start of the rebellion. On August 10 the Pueblos revolted, driving out the Spaniards. The church at Pecos was destroyed. One friar escaped with the help of converted Indians while a second friar was killed.
Driving out their oppressors did not bring all the changes they sought. It did not bring rain to water their crops or peace, since raids by Apache and Navajo increased.
By 1692 the Spanish had returned, but this time they took a more conciliatory approach with the Pueblo people, their traditions, and their customs. In 1717 Spaniards and Puebloans worked together to build a smaller church on the site of the one that had been destroyed.
Drought, disease, migration, and Comanche raids took a toll on Pecos. By the late 1700s the region's population decreased.
The governor of New Mexico Juan Bautista de Anza led a campaign against the Comanche in 1786 and signed a formal peace treaty at Pecos Pueblo on February 28.
In 1838 the few remaining Pecos inhabitants moved to Jemez Pueblo. As the century closed, new territories formed, and thousands of settlers traveled past the ghostly remains of the once powerful pueblo called Cicuye.
Trail of Commerce
From 1821 to 1880 thousands passed by here as they traveled the Santa Fe Trail, a major trade route between Independence, Missouri, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In the early years traders witnessed a lived-in pueblo; later, they witnessed the crumbling remains of Pecos pueblo. Near the pueblo were Pigeon's Ranch and Martin Kozlowski's Trading Post, which served as welcoming general stores for weary traders. Here, they could catch up on trail news, purchase a meal, or replenish water supplies at a nearby spring.
When the railroad opened in 1880, the trail become obsolete, and the ranch and trading post both closed.
Glorieta Pass (1821-62)
In 1821 Mexico won independence from Spain. Expansionist desires of the US led to land disputes with Mexico that resulted in the Mexican-American War, 1846-48.
President James K. Polk ordered Brig. Gen. Stephen Kearny to secure New Mexico. Kearny reassured citizens the US would protect their freedom and religion while increasing trade. Kearny kept local officials in power and paid for corn his troops stole.
Mexico expected a US invasion and fortified Glorieta Pass with 4,000 militia and volunteers. Many who heard Kearny's promises opposed the fighting, and the force disbanded.
Kearny averted a battle, and Santa Fe was won without a shot fired.
By 1862 the American Civil War had spread to the western territories. The Confederacy began a campaign to seize control of the Southwest, including New Mexico's Fort Union and the goldfields of Colorado and California. These resources could support the Confederacy and secure a frontier in the West.
On March 26 Confederates and Federals skirmished at Apache Canyon. The next day, as they rested and buried the dead, reinforcements arrived. After a day-long battle on March 28, Confederates held the fieldbut Federal troops destroyed the Confederate supply train near Johnson's Ranch. By forcing a retreat back to Santa Fe and eventually San Antonio, Texas, the Battle of Glorieta Pass marked the end of the Confederacy's ambitions to control New Mexico and beyond.
Remnants, Rodeos, and Ranches (1915-91)
Kidder was one of the first North American archaeologists to study the development of human culture over a large region through the systematic examination of stratigraphy and chronology in archaeological sites.
From his work at Pecos and other sites, he developed the first regional cultural chronology for the American Southwest, the Pecos Classification, which is still used.
In 1925 Tex Austin bought 5,500 acres, creating Forked Lightning Ranch. He converted Kozlowski's stage station into his ranch headquarters and hired architect John Gaw Meem to design and build a ranch house overlooking the Pecos River.
The city kid from St. Louis, Missouri, wore a sizeable cowboy hat and learned to ride a horse, producing his western persona and the rodeos that made him famous. For a while, Austin was able to sell the romance of the old West to tourists eager for the experience; however, during the Great Depression he lost his ranch, and due to financial and physical problems, committed suicide in 1938.
In 1941 Buddy Fogelson, a Dallas oil man and rancher, purchased the ranch, expanded it to 13,000 acres, and raised Santa Gertrudis cattle. In 1949 he married film star Greer Garson, and they actively supported preservation of the area. Garson told her friend, columnist Louella Parsons, "I am taking to ranch life like a duck to water. I've switched from bustles and bows to Levi's and boots, and I think it's definitely a change for the better."
In 1991 Garson sold her ranch parcel to The Conservation Fund, which donated it to the National Park Service. She and Fogelson were honored with the Conservation Service Award, the Department of the Interior's highest civilian honor.
Routes through History
From ancient footpaths and wagon roads, to railroads. Route 66, and today's I-25, the geographic corridor of Glorieta Pass has been the channel through which countless people have passed. Some came for survival, hunting and gathering food along the way. Some came for conquest, seeking riches and new lands. Some came for trade, and some sought adventure or just a getaway. What brings you here today?
Preserving the PastA Legacy Today
Pecos National Historical Park was established as a national monument in 1965 and redesignated a national historical park in 1990, following the addition of the Forked Lightning Ranch and Glorieta Battlefield units. Today, park staff, volunteers, and partners work to preserve, protect, and share the stories of the past, a living legacy.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
Visitor center, ancestral sites, and battlefield trails are open year-round. Visit our website for seasonal hours. The park is closed Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1.
Stop first at the visitor center for a film and exhibits. Traditional crafts of northern New Mexico are demonstrated on summer weekends.
A 1.25-mile self-guiding trail from the visitor center winds through the Pecos Pueblo and Mission Church sites. Ask at the visitor center about how to access other trails. For information on fishing at the park visit our website. The park has no overnight lodging or camping.
REGULATIONS AND SAFETY
Source: NPS Brochure (2018)
Brochures ◆ Site Bulletins ◆ Trading Cards
A Vegetation Classification and Map: Pecos National Historical Park NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/SOPN/NRTR–2012/601 (Esteban Muldavin, Yvonne Chauvin, Teri Neville, Lisa Arnold, Paul Arbetan, Anthony Fettes and Paul Neville, July 2012)
Acoustical Monitoring 2010: Pecos National Historic Park NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NRSS/NRTR—2013/707 (March 2013)
Circular Relating to Historic and Prehistoric Ruins of the Southwest and Their Preservation (Edgar L. Hewitt, 1904)
Crossroads of Change: An Environmental History of Pecos National Historical Park Vols. I, II, Appendices and Bibliography Intermountain Cultural Resource Management Professional Paper No. 78 (Cori Knudten and Maren Bzdek, 2011
Foundation Document, Pecos National Historical Park, New Mexico (December 2015)
From Folsom to Fogelson: The Cultural Resources Inventory Survey of Pecos National Historical Park, Volumes 1 and 2 Intermountain Cultural Resource Management Professional Paper No. 66 (Genevieve N. Head and Janet D. Orcutt, eds., 2002)
Geologic Resources Inventory Report, Pecos National Historical Park NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/NRPC/GRD/NRR-2015/951 (R. Port, April 2015)
Glorieta Battlefield Briefing Data (December 1987)
Glorieta Pass / The Forgotten War in the West (William J. Barker, extract from The Brand Book, Vol. 4 No. 6, June 1948; ©Denver Posse of Westerners, all rights reserved)
Geophysical Evaluation of Four Areas within the Trade Fair Locality at Pecos National Historical Park, San Miguel County, New Mexico Midwest Archeological Center Archeology Report Series No. 9 (Steven L. De Vore, 2015)
Glorieta Pass: Gateway to the Past (Brigida R. Blasi, June 2007)
Historic Structure Report: Historical Data Section: Pigeon's Ranch, Pecos National Historic Park Intermountain Cultural Resource Management Professional Paper No. 74 (Robert L. Spude w/Todd Delyea, 2008)
Integrated Resources Stewardship Strategy: Pecos National Historical Park NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/PECO/NRR—2011/408 (June 2011)
Interpretive Prospectus, Pecos National Monument (April 20, 1983)
Junior Ranger Activity Book, Pecos National Historical Park (Date Unknown)
Kiva, Cross, and Crown: The Pecos Indians and New Mexico, 1540-1840 (HTML edition) (John L. Kessell, 1979)
National Register of Historic Places Nomination Forms
Pecos National Monument (Cherie L. Scheick, May 24, 1989)
Peco Pueblo (Albert H. Schroeder, April 16, 1962)
Natural Resource Condition Assessment, Pecos National Historical Park NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/PECO/NRR-2011/441 (Kristine Johnson, Teri Neville and Jacqueline Smith, August 2011)
Pecos National Monument New Mexico: Its Geologic Setting (HTML edition) USGS Bulletin 1271-E (Ross B. Johnson, 1969)
Pigeon's Ranch (Ruth W. Armstrong, extract from New Mexico Architecture, Vol. 27 No. 6, November-December 1986, ©New Mexico AIA)
Riparian Condition Assessments for the Pecos River and Lower Glorieta Creek, Pecos National Historical Park, New Mexico NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/NRSS/WRD/NRR—2011/422 (Joel Wagner and Michael Martin, July 2011)
Preliminary Master Plan, Pecos National Monument, New Mexico (January 1973)
The Battle of Glorieta Pass (Kenneth Pitman, extract from The Denver Westerners Roundup, Vol. 47 No. 2, March-April 1991; ©Denver Posse of Westerners, all rights reserved)
The Battle of Glorieta Pass: Its Importance in the Civil War (David Westphall, extract from New Mexico Historical Review, Vol. 44 No. 2, 1969, ©University of New Mexico)
The Battle of La Glorieta Pass (J.F. Santee, extract from New Mexico Historical Review, Vol. 6 No. 1, 1931, ©University of New Mexico)
The Missions of New Mexico Since 1776 (John L. Kessell, ©University of New Mexico Press, 1980)
The Spanish Colonial Architecture of Pecos Pueblo, New Mexico Intermountain Cultural Resources Management Professional Paper No. 59 (James E. Ivey, June 2005)
When is a Convento Kiva?: A Postcolonial-Critical Indigenous Critique of the Convento Kiva at Pecos National Historical Park (©David M. Holtkamp, Master's Thesis University of New Mexico, May 2013)
Handbooks ◆ Books
Last Updated: 07-Jun-2022