PO Box 418
Pecos, New Mexico 87552
Tours and Special Use Permits
Pecos preserves 12,000 years
of history including the ancient pueblo of Pecos,
Colonial Missions, Santa Fe Trail sites, 20th
century ranch history of Forked Lightning Ranch, and
the site of the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass.
For several centuries the
Upper Pecos Valley has been one of those rare places
where the impact of geography on human experience is
At midpoint in a passage
through the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo
Mountains, the ruins of a Pecos Pueblo and Spanish
mission share a ridge. Long before Spaniards entered
this country this village commanded the trade path
between Pueblo frames of the Rio Grande and hunting
tribes of the buffalo plains. Its 2,000 inhabitants
could marshal 500 fighting men. Its frontier
location brought both war and trade.
The idea of a "new"
Mexico, another land of great cities weighted with
gold, appealed to the latecomers who thronged Mexico
City after the conquests of the Aztecs and Incas.
These ambitious seekers needed only direction.
Shipwrecked Cabeza de Vaca stumbled back into Mexico
in 1536 after wandering over new Spain's northern
frontier. His tales of rich cities farther north
combined with tantalizing legends of-lost bishops
and their seven cities out somewhere in the wilds to
provide that direction. This was the vision quest
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado pursued in 1540.
In 1861, Confederate President
Jefferson Davis approved Brigadier General Henry
Hopkins Sibley�s plan to raise a force of Texans
to invade New Mexico Territory. His objectives were
to capture military supplies from Union forts in New
Mexico and to recruit New Mexicans, Utah Mormons,
and Colorado miners to the Confederate cause.
When 20-year-old Clarence
Van Nostrand left home in 1908, he reinvented
himself for a life of adventure. He changed his
name to John Van Austin but every�one knew him as
"Tex" Austin. Read more about this
famous ranch and how the actress Greer Garson moved
here in 1949. The ranch house became a center for
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