The Ridge Road of Ruins
In the course of researching Jemez ruin sites in the Santa Fe National Forest, I happened to come across an old USGS topo map that labeled two remote, ridgetop sites as simply “Ruins”. The two sites were about a quarter of a mile apart and looked to be in close proximity to an old 4wd route. Checking the areas out in Google Earth failed to show any significant clearing, rubble discoloration or any hint of geometric structure. Further, I couldn’t seem to correlate the locations with any of the recorded larger Jemez sites. This sort of intrigued me, but I wasn’t expecting much.
As we were heading out from our Wabakwa visit, it seemed a detour might be in order to check these two sites out. We were on a poor 4wd route as we approached the coordinates of the first site. Sure enough, just off the side of the road, in the pine trees, was a large mound of rock. Nothing much in the way of wall structure, but it was clearly a ruin of some sort. There wasn’t really any visible wall structure, just a mound. Perhaps an old Jemez field house of some sort?
As we continued on to the next site, I was surprised to come upon it after only a hundred meters or so. I guessed I botched my location of the sites off the old topo map. No matter, we checked it out.
This second mound had considerably more wall structure than the first, and what appeared to be several, although small, rooms. I also noticed there was labeling associated with it, the numerals 537 spray painted in white on an adjacent tree. I suspect this was some sort of forest service labeling, as the number was too short to a an LA (New Mexico Laboratory of Anthropology) number.
We gathered up our crap and proceeded to head out, and then within a hundred meters or so came upon a third mound. Wait, there was only supposed to be two? This was similar to the first mound, not much shape to it, and it had a couple of large trees growing in it. So a stop for pictures.
Finally, heading out again, another hundred meters and there’s a fourth mound! This had a bit of structure to it, but not as much as the second mound. There was also the white painted label on an adjacent tree, in addition to an aluminum tag and what looked like a yellowish, plastic cork nailed into the tree.
I have a hunch more sites like this are in the vicinity. The 4wd route we were on just happened to be running along the very top of a narrow ridge spine where these sites were located. Thus the sites ended up being right next to the road (a very sweet way to hunt for things like this). A little exploration off the road out to ridge spurs might turn up more.