The area of Abiquiú where the Dome is located is known as Los Silvestres, meaning: ‘The Place of the Wild Ones’. It was settled in 1734 as a buffer between the Pueblo of Abiquiú and the wild lands of the Piedra Lumbre, west of the Chama River Canyon, at the edge of the Colorado Plateau. In the mid 1700’s, an acequia (irrigation ditch) was constructed to channel the life-giving water of the Chama River to crops along the valley corridor. This acequia is still in use today and is a vital part of the farming and ranching legacy of the valley.
There are amazing stories and history that occurred in the Abiquiú area. The land where the Dome now stands saw many travelers throughout history. Artifacts, ruins, ancient rock art, rock structures, and adobe ruins speak to other times when Ice Age hunters, early hunter gatherers, and later Pueblo clans, migrated along the Rio Grande tributaries. The Chama River Canyon above Abiquiú was often the trail through which the clans traveled to settle the many Pueblos located throughout New Mexico. If you hike in the Abiquiú area you will most likely find an artifact like a stone flake from the abundant obsidian or chert in the area or a piece of ancient pottery as they are all plentiful in this area. Also, the bones of Ice Age animals have been found near Abiquiú Reservoir, along with stone tools from the same period.
With the arrival of the Spanish in 1598, a new era in the southwest was born. New Mexico was home to the Pueblo people as well as other nomadic tribes coming in from the north. The Abiquiú area was in constant turmoil from clans and tribes entering the valuable hunting areas along the river drainages and high country to the west and north.
The Domínguez–Escalante expedition was a Spanish journey of exploration conducted in 1776 by two Franciscan priests, Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, to find an overland route from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to their Roman Catholic mission in Monterey, on the coast of modern day central California. The expedition left for the wilderness after departing the Pueblo of Abiquiú heading west through the Chama River Canyon on what would later be known as The Old Spanish Trail. This ‘jumping off point’ was later used for trade in the 1830’s by mule, foot, and horses, terminating at Olivera Street in Los Angeles, California. Some families of Abiquiú also used the trail to immigrate to California. The Chavez family settled in what is now the home of Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine.
Georgia O'Keeffe - Chama River Ghost Ranch Blue, 1937 painting
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