Christmas Day in Truchas

Truchas, NM

The things you’d see if you lived here, oh man

About an hour from where we live is the impossibly high village of Truchas, NM at a little over 8,000 feet. This is one stupendous topography we have in northern New Mexico. I’ll never get over how one can drive from sagebrush mesas to roaring mountain streams in under 30 minutes! And of course, there’s hardly anyone here, just miles and miles of mountains and trees. (Truchas means “trout,” by the way.)

Most of the place looks a little grimmer than this, kind of fitting when you consider the history. In 1754 twelve families from nearby villages received a Spanish land grant to establish an outpost community there. At the time, the Comanches made regular raids on Santa Fe by coming over the mountains: it’s a steep winding drop to the valley below (facing 180° from this photo), and from there an easy run down the Rio Grande. The village of Truchas was meant to stop all this, and I don’t know how it worked out. Any raiders approaching Truchas would likely have already hit Taos, as they were wont, and simply come along the High Road. You can see that the land grant wasn’t exactly philanthropy, anyway.

I’m sure most people in America have no idea there are places in New Mexico like this. I can hardly believe it myself.

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