El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro
Brochure of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail (NHT) in New Mexico and Texas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
The rough trail jolted nails loose from wagons and carriages. Hundreds of cobbler’s nails, farrier’s nails, and upholstery nails tell the story of El Camino Real. Spanish ranches and villages are established along El Camino Real north of Isleta Pueblo, including Pajarito and Atrisco, independent communities now within the greater Albuquerque area. German trader Bernardo Gruber dies on the Jornada del Muerto after fleeing jail at Sandía Pueblo and the cruelties of the Spanish Inquisition. On August 10th, nearly two dozen pueblos and their allies revolt over the Spanish practices of extracting payments, forcing conversion to Catholicism, and brutally suppressing native religion. The Spanish flee south and the pueblos regained their homeland for 12 years. 1706 • 1692 • The Spanish return to New Mexico and begin rebuilding missions and settlements. La Villa de Alburquerque is established, with today’s “Old Town” and plaza as its historic center. o R o m e r o, R i o G r a n d e P u r ging ,C yR o Palace of the Governors This modest, single-story adobe is the oldest continuously occupied governmental building in the US. Construction began in 1610. Over the years the palace has been converted to an Indian Pueblo, housed Spanish and Mexican governors, and served as a Territorial Capitol. Since 1909 the palace has been the heart of New Mexico’s State Museum system. The palace sits on the north side of the Santa Fe Plaza. 1680 • es Coronado Historic Site / Kuaua Pueblo When Francisco Vásquez de Coronado arrived at Kuaua Pueblo in 1540, he was leading an expeditionary force of 300 soldiers and 800 Indian allies on a march to locate the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola. Instead of the golden city they expected, the Spanish found a thriving multistory adobe pueblo with more than a thousand villagers. The Spanish capital is relocated from San Juan do los Caballeros to La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francsico de Asis (Santa Fe). 1670 • 1739 • The Tomé grant is settled after the Rio Grande shifts west, creating an inner valley branch of El Camino Real through the Tomé Plaza. 1760 • Still a rough camp in 1760, the paraje of Doña Ana is settled as a town in the 1840s. 1789 • San Elizario is established as a military presidio to protect citizens of El Paso del Norte from Apache attacks. 1807 • US Lieutenant Zebulon Pike illegally enters Spanish territory while exploring the West. Pike is captured and taken down El Camino Real to Mexico City. 1821 • Mexico gains its independence from Spain. The Santa Fe Trail opens with the arrival of William Becknell’s trading party from Missouri. El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro becomes known as the “Chihuahua Trail” for traders moving goods between Santa Fe and towns to the south. 1846 • Missouri volunteers under Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan defeat a Mexican unit at the Battle of Bracitos, go on to take El Paso del Norte, and march into Chihuahua. 1848 • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo establishes American control over about half of Mexico’s lands, including the lands traversed by El Camino Real north of El Paso del Norte. El Rancho de las Golondrinas Today a living history museum dedicated to telling New Mexico Hispanic lifeways, this was once an important paraje, or campsite, on El Camino Real. About 15 miles from the Santa Fe Plaza, the rancho offered travelers a chance to freshen up before reaching the capital city or to make repairs to gear following a jolting journey on the trail heading south. 1850 • 1853 • New Mexico becomes an incorporated, organized territory of the US on September 9. American-Mexican border is redefined through the Gadsden Purchase, which for 10 million dollars brought nearly 19 million acres of land between Texas and California into American hands. 1862 • Battle of Valverde, the first major battle of the Civil War in the South west, takes place north of Fort Craig in February. Fort Craig Historic Site Fort Craig, active between 1854 and 1885, was home to Buffalo Soldiers from the 9th Cavalry and 38th and 125th Infantry. Hispanic New Mexican volunteers and militia also served there, and Kit Carson, Rafael Chacon, and Captain Jack Crawford spent time there. Fort Selden Historic Site Fort Selden was established in 1865 to protect settlers and travelers in the Mesilla Valley. Built on the banks of the Rio Grande in the vicinity of the Robledo paraje, this adobe fort housed units of the US Army’s infantry and cavalry. The fort remained active until 1891, five years after Geronimo’s capture and seven years after the railroad had taken over El Camino Real’s role in commercial freight and transport. J.R. Riddle, Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM/DCA), 014523 1865 • Fort Selden is established to protect the Mesilla Valley. 1878 • The region’s first operational railroad, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, enters New Mexico Territory by way of Ratón Pass; the rails reach El Paso, Texas, in 1881. 1909 • New Mexico Territorial Highway Commission appropriates funds to reengineer La Bajada section of El Camino Real for automobile traffic. 1912 • New Mexico achieves statehood; State Highway 1 incorporates many sections of El Camino Real. 1926 • US Route 66 is built over parts of El Camino Real in central New Mexico, including the steep descent known as La Bajada. 1935 • New Mexico’s roadside historic markers begin to tell the trail’s history. In 1992 many of the 82 El Camino Real markers are installed as part of the Columbus Quincentenary Commemorations. 2000 • El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro is added to the National Trails System on October 13. 2010 • Sites on the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro in Mexico inscribed on the World Heritage List. Signature page from the Gadsden Purchase treaty, 1853. Cour of the Go tesy Palac e vernors Ph oto Archive s (NM HM /D CA), 045011 Source: Treaty Series #208 AO; Gadsden Treaty between U.S. and Mexico, December 30, 1853; General Records of the U.S. Government, Record Group 11; National Archives, Washington DC. Photo Credit: Paul Harden, El Camino Real Historic Trail Site National Park Service Bureau of Land Management U.S. Department of the Interior The historic route of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Dieg Keystone Heritage Park Keystone Heritage Park, El Paso, Texas, preserves a remnant of the rich riverine environment of the Rio Grande. The Archaic pit house settlement, where small bands foraged for wild plants and animals in the rich marshlands adjacent to the Rio Grande, is 4,000 years old. Juan do Oñate leads first Spanish colonists up the Rio Grande, blazing what would become known as El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. Onate settles on Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo lands, and the first Spanish capital is established at San Juan do los Caballeros. 1643-1662 • George C. Bennett, Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM/DCA), 055003 Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and his army of 1,100 camp near the Tiwa pueblo of Kuaua, near modern Bernalillo. 1608–1610 • Added to the National Trails System in October 2000 by the US Congress, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail extends 404 miles from south of El Paso, Texas, to Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, New Mexico. Visit some of the places featured here to experience the trail today. ols Aztec ruler Moctezuma II surrenders Tenochtitlán to Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés. Mexico City is established on the site of the Aztec capital. 1598 • From 1598, when the first Spanish colonizing expedition made its way up the Rio Grande, through the mid-1880s, the wagon road was the main thoroughfare between Mexico and New Mexico. The trail corridor is still very much alive, more than 120 years after the railroad eclipsed its commercial use. ic h 1540 • The trail fostered exchanges between people from many backgrounds, including American Indians, Spaniards, Mexicans, New Mexicans, and Americans. The trail corridor nurtures a lively exchange of ideas, trade, traditions, customs, and language between Mexico and the American Southwest. Recognition as an international historic trail commemorates a shared cultural and geographic heritage. It helps eliminate cultural barriers and enriches the lives of people living along El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. N F. 1521 • 4,000 BP • During the Archaic Period people were living in brush huts near the floodplain of the Rio Grande in what is now Keystone Park. Human occupation of the Rio Grande Valley dates to at least 12,000 years ago Once travelers crossed the arid plains of northern Chihuahua, they followed the Rio Grande Valley north into New Mexico. Many of the historic parajes (campsites) and early settlements created by the Spanish colonists became today’s modern cities in the Rio Grande Valley. In the United States, the trail stretches from the El Paso area in Texas, through Las Cruces, Socorro, Belen, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe to Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo), the first Spanish capital in New Mexico. rt El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro began in Mexico City. The historic road runs from there to Queretaro, Guanajuato, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Durango, and Ciudad Chihuahua. As the “Royal Road of the Interior Lands,” the road was the economic, social, and political lifeline between Mexico City and its northern provinces, and ultimately the wagon road brought Spanish colonists into today’s New Mexico. be El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro is the earliest European American trade route in the United States. Tying Spain’s colonial capital at Mexico City to its northern frontier in distant New Mexico, the route spans three centuries, two countries, and 1,600 miles. El Camino Real was blazed atop a network of indigenous footpaths that connected Mexico’s ancient cultures with those of America’s Southwest. Mesilla Plaza Mesilla, New Mexico, began its life following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. Mexican citizens who did not want to become US citizens after the Mexican-American War traveled south to found Mesilla in Mexican territory. Those same settlers found themselves officially part of the US after the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, which made Mesilla part of the US. The new town became a commercial crossroads for the Mesilla region. The Butterfield Overland Stage stop was adjacent to the plaza, and travelers on El Camino Real could stop in Mesilla on their way to Chihuahua and Santa Fe. Tomé Hill This distinctive conical hill has served as a natural landmark for travelers from prehistoric times into the present. Petroglyphs carved into its flanks and crosses at the top attest to its significance for Indian peoples and Catholic pilgrims alike. El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail New Mexico, Texas The Trail Today our t El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro The Trail Yesterday El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro IMPORTANT TRIP PLANNING INFORMATION The red and white dashed line on the map shows a historic route, rather than an actual visible trail that can be followed as a hiking trail. The map highlights historic sites and communities that can be visited, along with trailheads that provide access to segments of the original route that can be followed. THE FIRST CAPITAL In 1598 Juan de Oñate’s original colonizing party arrived at Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, named San Juan de Los Caballeros by the Spaniards. By the winter of 1599, the colony had moved to an outlying pueblo, Yunge, which they renamed San Gabriel. About 10 years later, the capital was relocated once again to Santa Fe. RIO ABAJO, RIO ARRIBA, AND LA BAJADA In the Spanish Colonial period, New Mexico was divided into two administrative units. These were the Río Abajo, or lower river, and the Río Arriba, or upper river. The dividing line was the escarpment known as La Bajada, north of Cochiti Pueblo. THE RIO GRANDE The Rio Grande is New Mexico’s major river. Its valley stretches the full length of the state and provides the best agricultural land, the most extensive wetlands and wildlife, and is the state’s major travel corridor. Known to Tewa Pueblo people as P’Osoge, or the big river, the Spanish called it the Río Bravo, or wild river, as well as El Río Grande del Norte, or the big river of the north. The Rio Grande forms the international border between Mexico and the United States from El Paso downriver to the Gulf of Mexico. THE CIVIL WAR IN NEW MEXICO Confederate troops marched into New Mexico Territory along the Camino Real in June 1861. They battled Union forces and New Mexico reserves at Valverde, and took both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The Confederates were turned back at Glorieta Pass, east of Santa Fe, before they could reach the gold and silver fields of Colorado. THE JORNADA DEL MUERTO The “Dead Man’s Journey” is the longest of the stretches on El Camino Real that the Spanish called jornadas. The dead man of this 80-mile, two-day trek, was Bernardo Gruber, who died on the jornada while fleeing the Holy Office of the Inquisition in 1670. Today the Point of Rocks trail leads to a viewpoint overlooking the historic route and the Yost Escarpment trail connects with one of the most isolated stretches of the original route. PARAJES The caravans made camps, known as parajes, every 20 miles or so on the journey from northern Mexico to northern New Mexico. These simple campsites served travelers for centuries. Some became the cities of today such as Albuquerque and Socorro. PRESIDIOS AND FORTS The Spanish established a handful of presidios, or forts, along the trail. El Paso del Norte and San Elizario controlled and protected the settlements near present-day Ciudad Juárez, and the Presidio de Santa Fe protected the capital and northern New Mexico. After 1846 the Americans developed their own military system of posts along the trail. The historic route of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, showing three-quarters of the route located in Mexico. The Act establishing the national historic trail directs the U.S. to coordinate with counterparts in Mexico to establish an international trail with complimentary preservation and education programs in each nation. Visiting the Trail Today El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail runs through the heart of the Rio Grande Valley. The Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service administer the trail together to foster trail preservation and public use. These agencies work in close partnership with nonprofit heritage conservation groups, the Indian tribes and pueblos—whose ancestors met the first Spanish colonists—as well as state, county, and municipal governmental agencies, private landowners, and many others. Trail sites are in private, municipal, tribal, federal, or state ownership. Please ask for permission before visiting any trail sites on private lands, and check with public sites for visiting hours and regulations. Follow trail signs to retrace El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro along highways, streets, and backcountry roads. For More Information Trail Administrators Bureau of Land Management New Mexico State Office P.O. Box 27115 Santa Fe, NM 87502-0115 (505) 954-2000 www.blm.gov/nm National Park Service National Trails Intermountain Region P.O. Box 728 Santa Fe, NM 87504-0728 (505) 988-6098 www.nps.gov/elca