Rio Puerco Valley to the
Just a few miles west of
Los Lunas you
will enter the beautiful Rio Puerco Valley, home to more than 10,000
archeological sites. In the midst of this haunting landscape, most
of these sites date back to the Puebloan cultures of the ancient
Indians. Also in this area are 50 volcanoes, one of largest being Cabezon peak,
rising in elevation some 8,000 feet.
Some eighteen miles beyond Los Lunas on the western side of the Rio Grande
Mystery Stone, also referred to as the Inscription Rock. Believe it
or not, this ancient petroglyph has cast doubt on whether Christopher
Columbus or the Norsemen were truly America’s first explorers.
Though people were aware of the rock when
became a territory in 1850, no one could read it. Local
Indians told the owner of the land in 1871 that the rock predated
their tribes coming to the area.
Cabezon Peak in Rio Puerco Valley, courtesy
Route 66 Emporium
The site has been known as "Mystery
Mountain” by the locals, but is more commonly known as "Hidden
Mountain.” At the foot of this hill on the lower right side of a
large mound of lava, there is a large boulder weighing an estimated 80
to 100 tons. The lava mound lies in a little canyon. Nine rows
of characters are chiseled into the north face of the boulder,
resembling ancient Phoenician script.
Over the years, numerous
interpretations and translations have been made, but
most agree that it is an ancient version of the Ten Commandments which
has also led to it being called the "Ten Commandments Rock.” Whatever the case may be, the circumstances surrounding this
inscription are mysterious, giving the Mystery Stone its well-deserved
In 1999 Stan Fox, a linguist and Bible
expert from Colchester, England, made a fresh translation of the Los
Lunas Inscription, based upon photos and a careful drawing of the
I am Jehovah your God who has
taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slaves. There
must be no other gods before my face. You must not make any idol. You
must not take the name of Jehovah in vain. Remember the sabbath day
and keep it holy. Honour your father and your mother so that your days
may be long in the land that Jehovah your God has given to you. You
must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You
must not give a false witness against your neighbour. You must not
desire the wife of your neighbour nor anything that is his.
In 2006 the first line of the inscription
was destroyed by vandals. It's origins remain controversial with
some experts claiming it's a fake.
must purchase a Recreational Access Permit from the New Mexico
State Land Office to be allowed access to the land where the Mystery Stone is
Route 66 paralleled the railroad as it climbed the steep slope of the
Rio Grande Valley and curved northwest toward Correo. Though this old
town still appears on maps, there is nothing left of Correo but a lonely
building that once served as bar and its towering sign. Deriving its name from the Spanish word meaning "mail” or "post office,”
as the town began with a simple store with a post office in the 1920s.
There was also a one room school house held in an old box car for the
children of the rail road crews. Later a café, gas station and
tourist cabins were added. However, today all that remains of Correo
is rubble and old
fading into the desert.
Another nine miles brings you to the
tiny Mesita Village along a bouncing road where grass is pushing its way
through the pavement. Once you have reached this cluster of adobe
houses populated by Pueblo
you are officially on the
Reservation. As you continue the five mile journey to
Laguna look for Owl’s Rock to the right. A bit further on you'll
come to the notorious Deadman’s Curve,
a 180 degree bend in the road to the left. You can
bet this old turn scared more than one old
traveler in days past.
Soon you will come to
Laguna Pueblo nestled below scenic Mount Taylor. Ancestors of
are thought to have occupied these same lands since 1300 A.D.
surrounding the villages indicates a longer history, as archeological
evidence has been dated back as far as 3000 B.C. When the Spanish
arrived in the 1500s, they found an agrarian lifestyle and sophisticated
system of self-governance.
The people refer to the pueblo as Ka-Waikah
or Ka-waik, meaning "lake people,” because it built along a natural dammed
lake in 1699. The lake has long since transitioned into meadow
lands. Consisting of six villages – the
Laguna, Paguate, Encinal,
Mesita, Seuma, and Paraje, the pueblo houses almost 8,000 residents. Covering some 5,000 acres, it is the second largest in
Owl Rock just beyond Mesita,
New Mexico ,
By Gone Byways
Laguna Pueblo around the
turn of the century
Saint Joseph Mission Church was built at the same time as the pueblo and
recognized by the Spanish government on July 4, 1699. In 1935, the
historic mission was fully restored and today’s visitors are invited to
visit the picturesque adobe mission perched atop a hill.
until the 1980s, mining from rich uranium field greatly enhanced the
economy of the pueblo. However, after the uranium played out, they
were left with their land in a disastrous state with much damage to
Today, sales of their original crafts and pottery helps to support their
economy. Each community within the
pueblo celebrates its own feast day and all the villages celebrate the
feast of St. Joseph on March 19th and September 19th
each year. These festivals bring crowds of people to the pueblo to watch
the dances and visit the many native arts and crafts booths.
The pueblo also offers
excellent fishing at Paguate Reservoir. Permits are required and can be purchased by contacting the
Natural Resources office.
A scenic view of the pueblo can be seen on Interstate 40 at mile marker
114. The pueblo-operated Dancing Eagle Casino and Travel Center are
located at mile marker 108.
Please note that photography, sketching and audio/video
taping are generally not allowed on
Laguna land. Ask any of the village officials if permission can be
granted for a limited scope or area.
Continue your journey through a long stretch of abandoned
San Fidel, and
of America, updated January, 2015.
and Indian Reservation Etiquette
Luminaries surround the
Laguna Saint Joseph
Mission Church during Christmas season,
December, 2004, Kathy Weiser.
This image available for
From Legends' General Store
66 Books -
Legends of America and
Rocky Mountain General Store has collected a number of
Route 66 Books for our
enthusiasts. As great as
Route 66 is, if
you aren't armed with a few good tools on your journey, you'll miss great
attractions, eateries, places to stay, and wind up on the wrong path. To
see this varied collection that includes "how-to" books, travel guides,
photograph books, attractions, and more, click