When most people think of Ghost Ranch, they think of Georgia O’Keeffe. But the area also is notable for archaeology and paleontology, and Ghost Ranch has two museums devoted to those topics.
The Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology is named for Dr. Florence Hawley Ellis, who worked for more than 20 years at the University of New Mexico and led anthropology courses and fieldwork in the Ghost Ranch area from 1970 through 1991. The museum highlights 12,000 years of habitation of the Gallina-Chama-Rio Grande drainage, as well as contemporary work by American Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo artists of the area. The museum also has an active exhibition schedule of contemporary artist’s work.
The Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology was named after the Ruth Hall. She was the wife of Jim Hall, the first resident director of Ghost Ranch. The Ghost Ranch area had of interest to paleontologists since the 19th century, and the 1947 discovery of a massive graveyard of Coelophysis fossils put Ghost Ranch on the map. The Coelophysis is the state fossil of New Mexico, and research is still being conducted on the area’s fossils. The museum has exhibits of various dinosaurs found in the region, including a fossil that is being removed from rock for visitors to see.
Location: 1708 Highway 84, Abiquiu, New Mexico
Phone: 877-804-4678 or 505-685-1000
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Closed most days from Christmas Eve to New Years Day. Call to verify hours.
Admission: Adults: $4, Children: $2 (13 and under), Seniors: $3 (65 and older)
While at Ghost Ranch, you can hike, take a workshop, stay for the night, or stay for a retreat. All of the information about available activities other details are posted on the website.
The Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village was established in 1974 to preserve stories from Aztec, a town founded in 1887, and the surrounding area. The main museum once served as the Aztec City Hall and Fire Station. After you go downstairs in the main building, you will step out into the Pioneer Village – a collection of 12 buildings, some of which were moved to the site. The buildings include an old jail, a print shop, a church, a log cabin, a blacksmith’s shop, a bank and a post office. Continue reading
Aztec Ruins Monument contains the remains of prehistoric Anasazi structures and is the second most important area in the Chaco area of ancestral Pueblo culture occupied between 850 and 1250. The ruins were named when European settlers mistakenly attributed them to the Aztecs. The site received UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1987 as part of the Chaco Culture World Heritage Site. Continue reading
The San Juan County Archaeological Research Center and Library at Salmon Ruins is a operated by San Juan County and includes a museum, the research center and library, and the ruins of an pueblo village. The library has more than 17,000 books, periodicals, and technical reports on archaeology, anthropology, geology and regional history. While the library is open to the public for research purposes, check-out privileges are limited to members of the San Juan County Museum Association, the San Juan County Archaeological Association and the Totah Tracers. The Division of Conservation Archaeology (DCA) also has its offices at Salmon Ruins. The DCA provides a wide variety of services including archaeological site recording, cultural resource surveys, and historic structure preservation field and site surveying.
The Salmon Ruins Museum has a Heritage Park and trail where you can see 11th century Salmon Ruins and a Chacoan great house, replicas of a sweatlodge, Hogan, tipi and pithouse, and the park trail ends at the Salmon Family Homestead that has a carriage house, a bunk house and root cellar. There is a Trail Guide to aid you as you roam over the site.
Address: 6131 U S Highway 64, Bloomfield, NM 87413
Hours: May through October: Monday through Friday. 8 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm. November through April: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, Saturday 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday, noon to 5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Admission: Adults, $4. Seniors (60 and older), $3. Children ages 6 to 16, $1. Children 5 and under, free.
The town of Chama was built in the early 1880s as a service depot for the San Juan Extension of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW). The depot included a station house, mechanical shops for servicing equipment on the line, warehouses and stockyards. With the coming of the railroad, Chama became a boomtown full of contractors for the railroad, miners looking to exploit the coal in the Monero region of the San Juan Basin, sheep and cattle ranchers, and loggers and others working in the lumber industry. The town was know for its wild and raucous nature. Several events led to the downfall of the town — the loss of timber after forests were clear cut, the near loss of the sheep industry after a disastrous winter in 1931-32 and the abandonment of the D&RGW San Juan Extension in the late 1960s. In more recent years, tourism, especially the activities of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TS), has been helping to revive the town .
In 1970, the states of Colorado and New Mexico jointly purchased the portion of the San Juan Extension running from Antonito, Colorado to Chama, New Mexico, along with much of the equipment that had been used on the line. This section is the most scenic portion of the San Juan Extension and the line loops back and forth between both states. In 1977, the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission was created by an act of Congress as a bi-state entity to oversee the railroad. The depot and yard in Chama are physically one of the most complete rail yards from the steam era of railroading.
In 1988, the Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad was founded over concern for the railroad’s historic assets were not being properly preserved. The friends operate the museum arm for the railroad and provide a huge number of volunteers who provide financial and hands-on support for the railroads preservation activities. Volunteers work on the restoration of the rolling stock and serve as docents on the trains. They operate a small Visitor Center and Library with model trains and photographs showing the history of the railroad. The Visitor Center is on Terrace Avenue across from the Depot and is open when the train is running from late May until Mid-September.
Address: 500 S. Terrace Avenue, Chama,New Mexico 87520
Phone: 575-756-2151 or 888-286-2737 (for general information and tickets)
Hours: Late May to Mid-September, The Visitor Center is open on a catch-as-catch-can basis during the train season.
Admission: No admission charge for the Visitor Center. Train fares vary — see website.