It was sunny, hot and once again the air con was working overtime when we drove along Highway 1 before turning onto the dirt road leading to Fort Craig.
In about 5 miles we arrived at the entrance. The area along the Rio Grande near where Fort Craig, http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/socorro
/fort_craig.html was established in 1854, was once home to early Puebloan peoples who developed settlements on gravel terraces near the river, eventually constructing adobe buildings several storeys high. There are archaeological sites in Mockingbird Gap north east of Fort Craig but I’m not sure whether or not they’re open to the public.
The Spanish explored the area in the 1500’s and thousands of settlers rested here before setting off along the infamous ‘Jornado Del Muerto’ (Journey of Death) section of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. During the summer travellers along this section of the road suffered from lack of water and scorching temperatures, in the winter lack of water and freezing winds were the problem, although at any time of the year there was always the threat of attack by marauding Apache.
Fort Craig was one of 8 forts along the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro and became one of the largest forts in the west it was also the sight of the largest Civil War battle in the Southwest. The Battle of Valverde took place upstream from the Fort at Valverde Crossing, Union forces succeeded in holding the Fort and half of the Confederates supply wagons were destroyed.
After the Civil War the Fort resumed attempts at controlling Indian raids, and the valley prospered under military protection. The Fort was temporarily closed for 2 years between 1878 and 1880 and then was permanently closed in 1885.
The Fort Craig site is now a BLM Special Management area and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Have fun, we are!