Bloomfield Things to Do
3 miles west of Bloomfield, lies an interesting piece of American history, that's seldom visited by tourists. Like a lot of cool places, I accidently found these ruins, looking at a map of New Mexico. Also, like a lot of cool places, from the pictures I found online, the ruins looked small, and not too impressive, so I wasn't expecting too much, but since they were right in the area we were exploring, we decided to check them out. The few pictures I found of them online didn't do them justice. The site is actually quite large, the structures are well intact, and the site has not only ruins, but also a nice skansen, which I will be writing a separate tip about. In fact, you have to go through the skansen first, to get to the ruins. There are numbered signs at the site, that correspond to numbers on the brochure you are given, so you know what you are looking at, and what its purpose was.
Named after brothers Peter and George Salmon, who established a homestead here in the late 19th century, the site has been dated between 1060 and 1090 AD. The site is believed to have been originally constructed by both the Ancestral Pueblo (Anasazi), and the Chacoan people, but the site actually had two different construction periods. That's because it was abandoned by the original inhabitants, in 1125, and was immediately reoccupied by people who were related to the ones who lived at Mesa Verde, about 40 miles north, so it's quite possible that they could've migrated from that area, and settled here.
The site is believed to have been abandoned, some time in the 1280s, and remained completely unknown to the world, until it was unearthed by archaeologists, in the 1970s. Why the pueblo was abandoned is still a mystery, but archaeologists have found evidence to support that the pueblo was intentionally burned. Like most pueblos in the Four Corners region, it was likely abandoned because of a drought. But with no archaeological evidence to support this, one can only speculate. Whatever the reason, the inhabitants seem to have left in a hurry, as archaeologists have unearthed a circular foundation, where the construction of a kiva had begun. For some reason, it was never completed.
The site opened to the public in 1973, even though excavations continued up until 1979. Today, the ruins and skansen are part of the Salmon Ruins Heritage Park. The site contains the excavated ruins of rooms, kivas, and great houses. Ongoing excavations of the site, still take place, so new discoveries could still be made.
It's a shame that this site isn't as popular or well known, as other pre-Columbian sites in New Mexico, as it's really interesting, and far more impressive than it looks in the pictures. If you're making a visit to the nearby Aztec Ruins, its worth stopping here too. Actually, it's better to come here first, so you won't end up being disappointed, as its not nearly as impressive as Aztec Ruins.
I forgot how much the entrance fee was, as this trip was a while ago, but it wasn't a lot. The fee is good for both the ruins and the skansen. Since the site isn't so well known, we had the whole place to ourselves, which is always great.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Salmon Indian Skansen
Located about 3 miles west of Bloomfield, is the Salmon Heritage Park. The park is divided into two sections. The main attraction are the ruins, but there is also a nice skansen, which is also divided into two sections. One section has the original buildings from the Salmon brothers' homestead, and the other section has replicas of dwellings and food storages, used by the Native American tribes, who inhabited this area. This is the section I will be talking about here.
The Native American skansen, is the first section you come across after paying the entrance fee, and you have to go through it to see the ruins and homestead.
The dwellings were both from ancient tribes, like the Pueblo, and modern day tribes, such as the Navajo. Both are interesting to look at. There are no signs at the dwellings, but they give you a brochure explaining what each dwelling is, what its purpose was, and even customs that had to be performed before entering. My personal favorite were the pit houses, and sweat lodge. There is also a teepee, sweat lodge, and traditional brush shelter, which are also really cool. The sweat lodge was especially interesting.
Skansens like this are great places to learn about the history of these people, and how they lived, as most structures of this kind, are no longer around.
I forgot how much the entrance fee was, as this trip was a while ago, but it wasn't much, and since it covers the Indian skansen, Salmon Homestead, and ruins, it's worth visiting the skansen, while you're here, as it has some interesting stuff, and is a nice introduction to the site. Because the site isn't so well known, we had the whole place to ourselves, which is always nice.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
The Salmon Homestead was established in the late 19th century, by two brothers, Peter and George Salmon, one of whom was a General.
Located 3 miles west of Bloomfield, the homestead is part of the Salmon Heritage Park, which also includes the Native American skansen, and ruins. Part of the park's open air museum, the site contains original adobe houses, in which the brothers lived, as well as a trading post, which was set up to trade goods with the native people, and even a makeshift prison, made from wood and clay.
After the brothers left, the property was owned by Charles Dustin, who saw the importance of the preserving the site, as an area of historical significance. It is thanks to him, that we still have the original structures, which is rare. In 1969, the property was purchased by the San Juan County Museum Association, and in 1973, the Homestead, along with the ruins was opened to the public. The skansen containing the Native American dwellings, was added later.
I forgot how much the entrance fee was, as this trip was a while ago, but it wasn't much, and it covers the ruins, homestead, and Native American dwellings. Since you have to go through the skansen anyways, to get to the ruins, its worth visiting both the Native American dwellings, and the Salmon Homestead structures, as they are both interesting, and a good introduction to the site. Plus, it's a great place to learn about what the way of life was like in the old New Mexico, because as I said, original buildings like this, are rarely seen.
Some of the structures at the homestead are open to visitors, some are not, but the Native American structures, all of them.
Because this site isn't so well known, we had the whole place to ourselves, which is always nice.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel