About This Lesson
This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration files, "Valencia Ranch Historic/Archeological District," "La Cueva Historic District," and "The Historic and Architectural Resources of the Upland Valleys of Western Mora County." It was written by Rita G. Koman, an educational consultant. The lesson was edited by Fay Metcalf, Marilyn Harper, and the Teaching with Historic Places staff. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: The lesson could be used in American history, social studies, and geography courses in units on settlement of the West or New Mexico history. It also could be used in units on cultural diversity.
Time period: 19th and 20th centuries
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To explain how and why Spanish settlement in New Mexico expanded into the valleys east of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
2) To describe how traditional Hispano culture in the valleys responded to new influences after New Mexico became a territory of the United States.
3) To identify the ways in which surviving ranchos reflect those responses.
4) To investigate the culture of early settlers in their own communities and identify how it changed over time.
Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a smaller, low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) two maps showing northern New Mexico;
2) three readings that describe interactions between Hispanos and Anglos in New Mexico, how these interactions affected Hispanos living east of the mountains, and the histories of two valley ranchos;
3) one drawing of a traditional Hispano house;
4) five photographs of rancho buildings and landscapes.
Visiting the site
La Cueva is located 26 miles north of Las Vegas, NM, on State Highway 518. The Romero House is not open to the public, but the La Cueva Mill and Store are open during the summer months, Monday through Saturday, 9:00-5:00, Sunday, 10:00-5:00. For more information, contact La Cueva National Historic Site and Salman Ranch, P. O. Box 1307, Las Vegas, NM 87701.
The Valencia Ranch is privately owned and not open to the public.
The Martinez Hacienda, a traditional house whose plan is shown as Illustration 1 in this lesson, has been carefully restored to its early 19th century appearance and is operated as a historic house museum. It is located on Lower Ranchitos Road, two miles southwest of the plaza in Taos on State Highway 240, and is open from 9:00-5:00 daily, April through October. For more information, contact La Hacienda de los Martinez, P. O. Drawer CCC, Taos, NM 87571 or visit their web site.