Heritage Preservation Month
This year is the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service, along with the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act and of the completion of the Mission 66 program, which reshaped the national parks. You can help celebrate those milestones on Friday, May 13, by exploring Rowe Mesa rock art, participating in a Poshuouinge Pueblo (Abiquiú) walking tour or attending a Navajo rug auction in Crownpoint.
May is Heritage Preservation Month, established in 1973 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “After World War II, Americans began visiting the nation’s parks in huge numbers that overtaxed the humble amenities mostly built in the 1920s and 1930s,” said Jeff Pappas, director of the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division. “With Mission 66, many national parks for the first time provided adequate restrooms, interpretive displays, and open, expansive indoor spaces from which people could gaze upon the cultural or natural resources they were visiting.”
Mission 66 started in 1956, and in the next decade, over a hundred visitor centers were established. One of the state’s more distinctive centers was built at El Morro National Monument south of Gallup. Like many others, it was located near the park’s main cultural resource: the massive cuesta (a hilly feature with a steep and a gradual incline on either side) that is known for the ruins of Atsinna Pueblo, along with a natural pool and Inscription Trail, featuring prehistoric petroglyphs as well as thousands of inscriptions by early Spanish and Anglo visitors.
The El Morro visitor center (which is featured on the new Heritage Preservation Month poster) was designed by Cecil J. Doty (also the architect on Santa Fe’s National Park Service building), with modernistic design by the California architecture firm DeLong & Zahm Associates.
There are plenty of other special events and programs scheduled. Every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday night in May, there is a one-hour archeoastronomy presentation at Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Fort Bayard, near Silver City, has morning walking tours of the National Historic Landmark on Saturday, May 14, May 21, and May 30. At Bandelier National Monument, also marking its centennial, teams of scientists, students, and the public will identify plants, animals, microbes, fungi and more on May 20 and 21, as part of a Biodiversity and Cultural Fiesta. There’s a guided tour at 1 p.m. on May 20 to illustrate how the monument has re-adapted its preservation approach over the last 100 years, as well as a guided cavate cliff-dwelling tour scheduled for the morning of May 27.
For a complete events list and other information, see www.nmhistoricpreservation.org or call 505-827-4067. — Paul Weideman
Below, restored marquee at the Silco Theater in Silver City, courtesy Silver City MainStreet Project; restored San Ysidro Church in Corrales, photo Ed Boles, courtesy New Mexico Historic Preservation Division