Paleoindians and Prairie Schooners

Field Trip

Saturday, June 9–Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Mandala CenterThe Mandala CenterCourtesy of Lori Coon.The Mandala CenterCourtesy of Lori Coon.

Two iconic landmarks of New Mexico are the Santa Fe Trail and the Folsom site, a renowned Paleoindian site dating between 10,800 and 10,200 years ago. Excavations at Folsom during the 1920s unearthed a spear point between the ribs of a then unknown species of Ice Age bison, Bison antiquus. The discovery demonstrated for the first time that ancient people had arrived in the New World in Ice Age times. Folsom subsequently became one of the most famous sites in American archaeology, but for decades it was also one of the least well known, scientifically speaking. Our trip leader, Southern Methodist University archaeologist David Meltzer, has recently completed an extensive excavation, and his research group has analyzed the site’s bones and artifacts—much of it for the first time. Our visit to Folsom will provide the opportunity to understand why Folsom is so important to the history of the American continent.

In more recent times, the Santa Fe Trail left its mark upon northeastern New Mexico grasslands as trade caravans traversed the 850 miles between Missouri and New Mexico. Born in 1821, commerce on the trail reached a million dollars annually by the time the U.S. Army arrived to occupy Santa Fe in 1846. In addition to traders, travelers on the trail included mountain men, soldiers, big-game hunters, health-seekers, and sightseers. Along the way, they encountered vast herds of buffalo, Indians from numerous tribes, and challenging weather conditions. With the coming of the train in 1879, the Santa Fe Trail was effectively closed. During our two-day field trip, we will visit several spots where remnants of the legendary trail are still visible upon this remote landscape. Trip co-leader David Grant Noble will give us an overview of the trail’s history and significance and recount some of the adventures recorded in the memoirs of travelers.

Our overnight accommodations will be at The Mandala Center, located on top of the Sierra Grande shield volcano with a magnificent view of Capulin Volcano. This is an enchanting landscape, where high plains, prairies, mountain canyons, and volcanic fields come together in a magical display of nature’s splendor.

Overnight Accommodations: The Mandala Center near Des Moines, NM, will host our group and provide dinner, breakfast, and a picnic lunch. All rooms have two twin beds. Because of limited room availability, we are encouraging double occupancy. Single occupancy will be very limited.

Activity Level: Moderate, numerous stops to explore the Folsom archaeological site, Folsom Museum, Fort Union, Santa Fe Trail ruts, headstones and lore, and scenic views of Capulin Volcano, Dorsey Mansion, Point of Rocks, and the Kiowa Grasslands.

Cost (per person): $325 (double occupancy) and $375 (single occupancy), includes guide honorariums, transportation, meals, and lodging.

Trip Registration: To ensure that field trip registration is equitable, SAR will be using a lottery system. Please send your field trip requests (PDF, 728 KB) by mail—postmarked no later than March 9, 2012. Do not send any trip payment with your lottery registration. A drawing will then be held for each trip, and members will be notified of the results by March 23, 2012. Please note that memberships at or above the Galisteo level receive advance registration.

For more information, visit the Field Trips section.

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