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Pecos National Historical Park

PO Box 418
Pecos, New Mexico 87552

Phone
Visitor Information
(505) 757-7200
Tours and Special Use Permits
(505) 757-7212

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 strikingly clear.

First People of Pecos

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.

Spanish Encounters

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.

Civil War in the West

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.

Forked Lightning Ranch

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 gracious entertaining.

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