Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Coronado State Monument

After driving past the Coronado State Monument sign multiple times I decided to check it out. I pass this monument going to Albertsons and Home Depot and wondered what could possibly be at such an odd location. The monument is located at 485 Kuaua Road in Bernalillo which is a half hour north of Albuquerque and about 15 minutes from our house. I picked an early morning before the spring winds would kick up and headed out. When I got there there was a nice sign, campgrounds, and a visitor center designed by Southwest architect John Gaw Meem (who I guess is a big deal). It was a very nice building plopped down along the Rio Grande river with a golf course in the distance and suburbia in the other direction. Odd. The site was excavated in 1930 and turned into a monument in 1940. It is the ruins and reconstructed kivas of a 1325-1600 Anasazi Pueblo with 1200 adobe walled surface dwellings/storage rooms, 3 plazas and 6 kivas. The dwellings/storage rooms are interesting when the docents explain that corn was stored at ground level and other levels were where people lived. The ruins don't look like much but do give you an idea of the size and layout. There are many other rooms that were re-buried when wind and the elements were threatening the construction. They were buried to preserve them. The construction was a ball or puddle adobe technique hand formed to make the walls. The balls were made by burning twigs and grass and combining the coal with dirt.

There are reconstructed murals painted in one of the reconstructed kivas after the originals were removed and restored and put on display in the mural room on site. They are spectacular but unfortunately you cannot take photos. They are one of the best examples of prehistoric pre-Columbian art in the northern hemisphere. There are also artifacts on display as well as a nice video.

There are trails that meander around additional ruins and go off toward the river. The location would have been a wonderful place to live. Not too many people walk the trails - I didn't see any one and only saw animal tracks and tumbleweed gatherings! School kids visit for tours and there were a couple busloads in the time I was there.

The only connection to Coronado that I could figure out was that Fransecso Vasquez de Coronado of Mexico wintered over in the Pueblo in 1540 while looking for the "seven cities of gold." Other than that I didn't understand why the site was named after him. That said, it is interesting as long as you have a docent explain what you are looking at. It isn't somewhere to spend a whole lot of time but for $3 why not go there and to the Jemez Monument nearby!

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