National Park Service
Kiva, Crown, Crown


The Invaders

The New Mexico: Preliminaries to Conquest

Oñate's Disenchantment

The "Christianization" of Pecos

The Shadow of the Inquisition

Their Own Worst Enemies

Pecos and the Friars

Pecos, the Plains, and the Provincias Internas

Toward Extinction




"The view of Pecos, as it now lies, without the least addition," wrote Lt. J. W. Abert in his journal entry for September 26, 1846,

would form a beautiful picture, and more than a picture, for every cloud, every degree that the sun moves, gives such varied effects to the landscape, that one has a thousand pictures; but their effects are so fleeting, that although they last long enough to delight the spectator, it would yet perplex the artist to catch these changes. For my part, I tried, and tried in vain, until at last some large night herons came sweeping over my head, and warned me that the shades of evening were drawing on, when I returned to camp.

aerial view of Pecos ruins
National Park Service excavations of Pecos church and convento, 1967. National Park Service photo by Fred E. Mang, Jr.

Pecos ruins
"Ruins of Pecas, Aztec, Church, N.M." a sketch by Pvt. Josiah M. Rice, 1851. Rice, A Cannoneer in Navajo Country. Courtesy of the Denver Public Library, Western History Department

Pecos ruin
The hulking north transept of the eighteenth-century church at Pecos, photographed by C. B. Neblette early in 1966, just before the National Park Service began excavation. Courtesy of Pecos National Monument

Pecos ruin
"Ruinen von Pecos," after a painting by Heinrich Balduin Möllhausen, 1858. Looking north in the main plaza. Möllhausen, Reisen in die Felsengebirge Nord-Amerikas (Leipzig, 1861)

On a similar day, August 3, 1975, closest Sunday to the feast of Our Lady of the Angels, a procession strung out along the path west of the convento ruins on the way to celebrate Mass in the roofless church. The clouds and their effect were just as Abert had described them, the shades of color and light just as fleeting. The tenth archbishop of Santa Fe, smiling, walked in front. Behind him, the men of Pecos village carried the restored painting of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles as a banner. From Jémez, a delegation of the Pecos remnant had come to take part, and from Washington, D.C., New Mexico's two United States senators.

In one sense, the scene was complete in itself—the pageantry of the movement, the tolerant presence of three cultures, the glory of the natural surroundings—enough to delight anyone. Yet for the spectator who knew something of the history of the living Pueblo de los Pecos, another dimension lay behind the scene, a dimension that stretched far back beyond the time when the people and the place had parted company.

Pecos on the eve of excavation, 1915. Museum of New Mexico
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