Category Archives: Taos

The first USGS Gauging Station 1889


USGS Gauging Station 1889
* Embudo, New Mexico * (south of Taos) * *

As studying stream and river flow patterns, power, and conductivity became a passion with the U.S. Geological Survey, they established their very first gauging station in 1889 along the Rio Grande River near Embudo, New Mexico. Here they collected stream flow information for scientific reports, studies, and analysis. Directed by John Wesley Powell, Irrigation Survey personnel (branch of the U.S. Geological Survey) developed procedures here that could be utilized for creating reliable stream flow estimates and was believed to be an important item to inventory in the arid west prior to settlement of the region. Once the methodology was solidified here near Embudo, the staff went to collect data at other western locations. Within two years, they also began collecting stream flow data along the Eastern United States, starting on the Potomac River at Chain Bridge near Washington D.C. on May 1, 1891. By 1895, measurements were being conducted in over 27 states. Today the USGS currently operates over 7000 gauging stations nation-wide. This helps us to understand the discharge of the stream, power of current, floodplain mapping, velocity, flood warnings, flood forecasting, and annual flow volumes. This is located just south of Taos, New Mexico.


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Taos Pueblo


Taos Pueblo * Pueblo de Taos * ?a?ophym?p?h??oth??olbo * *
* Taos, New Mexico * * ca. 1000 C.E./1450 C.E. to Present day *

As a southwestern Archaeologist, I have always been inspired and intrigued with the Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community that has been designated as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as a National Historic Landmark. Aesthetically its a great example of adobe architecture and Puebloan culture. “Taos” was borrowed from the Spanish word “Taos” (t??o) meaning “village”, translating “Taos Pueblo” to “village in the village”. “Pueblo” means “the village” or “in the village” in the anglicized writing of the name, and given the namesake as “Taos Pueblo”, its true name however in the Taos language is “?a?ophym?p?h??oth??olbo” meaning “at Red Willow Canyon Mouth”. These multi-storied adobe structures have been continuously inhabited for over a 1000 years. As a part of the Eight Northern Pueblos, this community is known for being one of the most conservative, secretive, and private of those in existing Puebloan culture. The village is atop a 95,000 acre sized reservation with over 4,500 inhabitants. The Red Willow Creek (Rio Pueblo de Taos) runs through the village as a small stream flowing into the middle of the community, fed by the headwaters sprung for the from spring and snow melt of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The pueblo is noted for its multi-storied residential complex, consisting of adobe architecture with reddish-brown mud-clay construction that is divided into two parts by the Red Willow Creek. Most of the Taos buildings originally had few windows or doors and were accessed by square holes in the roof led down by long climbing wooden ladders. Roofs were supported by large cedar logs with layers of branches, grass, mud, and plaster covering it all. The Pueblo wall completely enclosed the village back in the day and much taller for protection (today they are short or missing elements). The north side of the Pueblo is the most photographed and painted buildings in North America as they are representative of the largest multi-storied Pueblo structures still in existence. The walls are several feet thick for defensive strategy, and until 1900 C.E. only accessed from ladders in the roof. Homes usually have two rooms, one for living/sleeping and the other for cooking/storage. Each house is self-contained with no passageways between the houses. In early days, they were minimal with furnishings but today have beds, chairs, tables, counters, etc. There has never been electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing permitted in the Taos Pueblo. Kivas are scattered around the Pueblo utilized for council meetings and spiritual rites.

There is controversial debate on exactly when it was built, but estimated construction is between 1000 C.E. and 1450 C.E. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on October 9, 1960 and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. The original Pueblo Indians (including the Taos Native Americans) settled along the Rio Grande River after migrating from the Four Corners Region as their ancestry come from the Anasazi people who built the ruins in that area (Aztec Ruins, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, etc.) forced to move on by a devastating drought in the 13th century of the Common Era. The waters of the Rio Grande River were more dependable. This Pueblo became a trade center for most of the native Populations of the area including the Plains tribes, often hosting a trade fair every fall after the agricultural harvest. Their spirituality was very Pagan, animistic, and shamanistic in belief structure which was almost demolished by Catholicism and Christianity after contact. The first Spanish to arrive was in 1540 C.E. from the Francisco Vsquez de Coronado expedition in search of the Seven Cities of Gold. By 1620 C.E., San Geronimo de Taos Catholic church was constructed, albeit numerous resistance attempts from the local Taos Native Americans. Resistance against the Catholic faith was hardcore at this time. However, as tensions grew between the Euro-American and Spanish settlers invading the area as well as between the Plains Indians and amongst their own peoples, the 1600’s C.E. of this region was in major upheaval and change. Churches were burnt, settlers were killed, priests murdered, and the grand Pueblo Revolt of 1680 (CE) took foot. The Taos people killed all three priests and destroyed the San Geronimo church. It was rebuilt for a third time by the end of the 18th century and relations between the Spanish and Puebloan culture found a level of peace finding strength coming together to defeat another invader, the Comanche and Ute Indian Tribes from the North and East. Resistance towards Catholicism was still strong.

As New Mexico came under control of the United States away from Mexico, officially becoming a territory in 1847 C.E. the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed with a grand peace requested and cherished. This did not last long as another revolt broke out in this Pueblo, when the Taos Pueblo leader “Tomasito” teamed together with the Mexican leader “Pablo Montoya” instigated a rebellion of Native Americans and Mexicans who refused to become part of the United States. They killed the then Governor Charles Bent while marching onto Santa Fe, followed by refuge in the Geronimo Mission Church. The Church was attacked by American troops, onslaught murder of the rebels and taking the others hostage, once again demolishing the church. It was rebuilt a fourth time in 1850 C.E. near the west gate of the Pueblo wall. The ruins can be seen today in the grave yard.


In the early 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt took 48,000 acres of land from the Pueblo designating it as the Carson National Forest. This was returned back to the Pueblo in 1970 by President Nixon, and in 1996 an additional 764 acres were given back to the Pueblo covering their sacred Blue Lake – a magical body of water integrated into early Taos Puebloan belief structure.

Today the Taos Puebloan Peoples practice two spiritual practices – the original indigenous spiritual tradition and Roman Catholicism. It is said that the majority of the Taos Indians still practice their old ways even though 90% of their members have been baptized as Roman Catholics. From my experiences however, it is very apparent that much of the old ways have been destroyed by Catholicism. When I asked many Native American vendors in the Pueblo about certain meanings of various stones, symbols, or items (many of which are common knowledge items of lore today) – the response issued that they didn’t know, said there was nothing special about it, or that there was no lore associated with them. This demonstrated to me that either they were keeping secret even that which is common mainstream knowledge, or the general populace in the Pueblo has lost their cultural mythos and lore, which was very saddening to me. In talking to some Puebloan contacts, many say the ancient traditions are still practiced, albeit in secret away from white folk, or that they are now Christian or Catholic in practice. The concept of “community” however has not changed amongst Puebloan culture. Their phrase “we are in one nest” has been the supportive cohesive glue keeping the community together. The other aspect is “family” with high tribute and respect for their ancestors, elders, and parents. Often pictures, photos, or items belonging to ancestors or parents would be found in the homes or shops – a part of ancestral worship in like. Descent is respected from both the father and mother’s side (patrilineal and matrilineal) and although each family lives in a separate dwelling, they come together for family issues, and everyone is available to help care for the children. The elderly teach the young values and traditions of the culture with hopes of securing and preserving Taos Puebloan culture for generations to come.


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World Cup Cafe (Taos, NM)

World Cup Cafe
* 102A Paseo Del Pueblo Sur * Taos, NM 87571 * 575-737-5299 *

A great little coffee shop in the heart of Taos‘ City Center / Plaza, in northern New Mexico. While parking is not all that convenient, finding a space is worth it for a cup o’ joe here. The Italian soda is nice, the chai spicy, and the drinks good. Service is average, and prices are fair. World Cup has its own charm … Rated: 4 stars out of 5. Visited 11/22/2013.

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Farmhouse cafe and bakery (El Prado, NM)

Farmhouse Cafe and Bakery

* 1405 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, El Prado, NM 87529 * (575) 758-5683 *
(Located outside of Taos, New Mexico)

This cafe was a delightful gem as we pulled to the plaza in which its buried behind a few stores in as a “last chance” food stop heading from Taos towards the Rio Grande Gorge and Bridge. A snowy cold afternoon, we were surprised to find a gluten-free, free-range, organic bakery / cafe / restaurant with offerings to our required palate. I was a bit hesitant at first as the meal took a bit longer than I’m used to waiting for, but I was very pleased with the masterpiece we received. The food was delicious, wholeheartedly healthy, and satisfying. In addition we were blessed with the ability to meet the owner, and she graced us with a gift of some home-made flan since we had been waiting a bit. Definitely a location we’ll be dropping by in our future visits to Taos area. With offerings for vegans, vegetarians, free-rangarians, and the gluten-free crowd, you can’t go wrong with this farm-to-table venue. They also offer free wifi, outdoor dining, private party space, and a great cafe to read, relax, and socialize in. We were on-the-go, so were taking out so next time will definitely stay awhile.

According to taos news in their article about this new cafe to Taos, Micah Roseberry, the owner opened on August 21st of 2013 as she had been farming in Northern New Mexico for over 25 years and wanted to bring the farm directly to the table, and therefore Farmhouse cafe was born. All of the produce comes right from the farm outside of the restaurant or from her farm up in Cerro, as are the flowers, and those that do not come from her farm are delivered via organic free-range farms from the local community. She’s into community and building a local food system as her non-GMO organic market. They serve breakfast and lunch as well as a farmer’s market where locals can sell their produce every wednesday from 3-6 pm.

Our first visit awards this great cafe a 4 1/2 stars out of 5. 11/22/2013.

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Cimarron Canyon, New Mexico

Cimarron Canyon State Park
Cimarron, New Mexico * *
A beautiful canyon that is bisected by historic Highway 64 extending from Cimarron to Taos. The State Park is located three miles east of Eagle Nest, New Mexico. The park resides in the Colin Neblett Wildlife Area. The Canyon is a very popular location for trout fishing, especially in the Cimarron River and its tributaries – Clear Creek and Tolby Creek. It is also a very popular camping, cross country skiing, and hiking location. The park extends for eight miles. The Palisades Sill are amongst the most popular photo spots in the Canyon. Elk, Deer, Bear, Turkey, Grouse, songbirds, and mountain lions are common inhabitants. Definitely a nice road stop along Highway 64. Rating: 3 stars out of 5.

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Taos, New Mexico

Taos, New Mexico
* *
Taos means “place of red willows” and stands at an elevation of 6,950 feet above sea level and according to a 2000 census, has a population of about 4,700. The town consists of 5.4 square miles and is located at 3623?38?N 10534?36?W? / ?36.39389N 105.57667W? / 36.39389; -105.57667 (36.393979, -105.576705) according to Wikipedia. To the west is the scenic Rio Grande Gorge that cuts through the basalt flows of the Taos Plateau volcanic field along historic route 64. Taos is most notable for its artistic communities and its close proximity and association with the Taos Pueblo which is home to a Taos Pueblo tribal village. Taos is also popular due to its close proximity to the Taos Ski Valley ski resort. The town was founded in 1615 by Spanish explorer ‘Fernandez de Paos’ during the Spanish conquest of the Indian Pueblo villages. Relations with tribes in the area were amicable but with meddling by missionaries was the home front to the revolt of 1640 when the tribes killed the local priest and a number of Spanish settlers. Most of the settlers fled the Pueblo, not returning again until after 1661. In 1680 the Taos Pueblo joined the widespread Pueblo Revolt. After the Spanish Reconquest in 1692, Taos Pueblo continued armed resistance until Governor Diego de Vargas defeated the Indians at Taos Canyon. The 1770’s saw Comanche raids from eastern Colorado until a successful punitive expedition in 1779 put an end to them. When the United States took over New Mexico in 1847, Hispanics and Amerindians joined together for another fight called the “Taos Revolt” where the newly appointed U.S. Governor was killed. 1899 saw a humongous wave of artists move into the area creating the “Taos Society of Artists” forming one of America’s most notable artist colonies. The artist history has been preserved in Taos. Famous artists such as Nicolai Fechin, R.C. Gorman, Agnes Martin, and Bill Rane were located here. Taos is one of New Mexico’s biggest tourist hot spots – famous for its scenery, culture, pueblos, adobe architecture, skiing, dining, the San Francisco de Asis Church, and its popular Hollywood inhabitants such as Julia Roberts, Val Kilmer, and Donald Rumsfeld. One of my favorite little artist towns. Rated: 5 stars out of 5.


Geology: Taos is a unique geologic location. The infamous Staurolite/Fairy Crosses can be found naturally growing here. Also located near Taos is the USGS Gauging Station from 1889. Fascinating geology can be found in the Rio Grande Gorge.

* Note: This is not a complete list. This represents only the restaurants and cafes we’ve personally visited during our travels.

Unique Architecture:


  • Baurley, Thomas 2015 Alternative America: Travel Guide to the U.S.A. Technogypsie Publications, Riverside, California.
  • McGowan, Leaf 2015 Magical America. Technogypsie Publications, Riverside, California.
  • Wikipedia 2015 “New Mexico”. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Website referenced 8/16/15.
  • Wikipedia 2015 “United States of America” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Website referenced 8/16/15.

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Rio Grande Gorge and Bridge (Taos, New Mexico)


Rio Grande Gorge and Bridge
Taos, New Mexico * *
One of New Mexico’s most famous and picturesque gorges and bridges. The Rio Grande Gorge is 800 feet deep and ten miles long, running from northwest to southeast of Taos, New Mexico, through the basalt flows of the Taos Plateau volcanic field. One of the world’s most popular white water rafting locations, steep pocketed rock climbing hot spots, and home to numerous petroglyphs. Along its bottom runs the historic Rio Grande river with hidden hot springs and ancient ruins. The bridge and gorge has been home to numerous movies and film shoots including Terminator Salvation, Natural Born Killers, Twins, She’s Having a Baby, and Wild Hogs. In fact, during our visit here, traffic got stopped while we watched an RV race up and down the bridge being filmed for some upcoming movie. The bridge that expands this gorge has won awards from the American Institute of Steel Construction as the “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in 1966.


It is a cantilever truss steel bridge crossing the Rio Grande Gorge. It sits 650 feet above the Rio Grande which makes it the fifth highest bridge in the United States. It spans roughly 1,280 feet across with highway 64 running over it. The bridge has been the site for many suicides, some of which are notoriously famous. It is also the hotspot for Bonnie and Clyde type road warriors for proposals as stemmed from the classic scene in Natural Born Killers. Definitely a nice road stop along Highway 64. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

The wedding of Mickey and Mal:

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Earthships (Taos, New Mexico)

Earthship Community by Taos, New Mexico
* *
Along Highway 64 just southwest of Taos, New Mexico is a sustainable living community of Biotecture homes called “Earth-ships”. Earth-ships are passive solar homes made of natural and recycled materials designed for off-the-grid living. Earth-ships also embrace a thermal mass construction for temperature stabilization and incorporating renewable energy and integrated water systems making the Earth-ship an off-grid home with little to no utility bills. Most of the Earth-ship designs are created by Earth-ship Biotecture of Taos, NM. The homes are primarily constructed to work autonomously and are generally made of earth-filled tires, utilizing thermal mass construction to naturally regulate indoor temperature. They also usually have their own special natural ventilation system. These structures are built to utilize the available local resources, especially solar energy by means of windows strategically placed on the sunny side to bring in light and heat; contingent on a horseshoe-shape to maximize natural light and solar gains during winters; thick outer walls for insulation against summer heat; honeycombs of recycled cans cemented together for more insulation, and incorporation of earth and adobe. These kind of buildings took shape in the 1970’s. Earth-ship Biotecture’s founder, Mike Reynolds, created a company to specialize in building these sustainable structures with the importance for them to be independent from the ‘grid’ so that they are less susceptible to natural disasters and free from electrical and water lines. Because of the earth filled tire construction, Earth-ships have great load-bearing capacity and have an increased resistance to fire. Earth-ships can be found in every state and are appearing in countries like Europe. Earth-ship Biotecture is located in the Greater World Community which is a housing development in Taos, New Mexico compiled together of strictly earth-ship homes. Officially a legal subdivision in 1998 – it was started in order to create an ideal condition from where a sustainable community could grow and flourish. Want to buy an Earth-ship or land to place one on? An Earth-ship is defined by the following 6 principles: Thermal/Solar Heating & Cooling; Solar & Wind Electricity; Contained Sewage Treatment; Building with Natural & Recycled Materials; Water Harvesting; Food Production; and Comfort in Any Climate. I’m extremely intrigued and impressed by these sustainable buildings.
Rated: 5 stars out of 5.

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