Category Archives: Petroglyphs

January 2015 – Fort Bayard Game Reserve

Petroglyph Paradise

Hiking the Dragonfly Trail with Silver City native Jeffrey Carrasco

On a crisp fall morning, I tied up my laces and drove over to Fort Bayard Game Reserve to meet Silver City native, Jeffrey Carrasco. I never fail to learn something when I hike with a new person and my hike with Jeffrey was no different.

During the walk he explained what the small ball-like ‘pods’ were on the scrub oaks we saw (don’t mind this east coaster; I thought it was a seed pod or eggshell of some sort). “Those are galls,” Jeffrey said. “Gall wasps inject fluid into the tree causing the tree cells to multiply and a gall is formed. The wasp larvae grow inside the gall.”

Naturally, I asked Jeffrey to describe one of his favorite hikes, and he picked the Dragonfly Trail.

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Name: Dragonfly Trail #720

Distance: various

Difficulty: easy

Directions: Starting at the corner of Highway 180 and 32nd Street Bypass, drive east on Highway 180 for 3.3 miles (between mile marker 118 and 119). Turn north (left) onto Arenas Valley Road and drive one mile straight to the parking lot and trail- head. The last tenth of a mile is dirt road. There are signs on the highway pointing to the turnoff for the Dragonfly Trail.

Hike Description: This is an easier, well-marked walk that offers many hiking options. Here I describe the trail we took to the petroglyphs 1.5 miles away. After parking in the second lot, enter through the green gate and past the information board. You will soon reach a fork. You can reach the dragonfly petroglyphs either way; we went to the right. At the second fork, stay to the right. At the third fork, stay to the left. From this point, brown trail markers clearly guide you right to the petroglyphs. When you see a Forest sign on a tree that says, “Who passed this way?” you’re there. The petroglyphs are among the boulders to your right and up the small hill. Enjoy exploring them but please don’t destroy or compromise the area in any way. Continue past the sign and return to the parking area using the loop trail. Walk about five minutes and you’ll come to a wooden sign that describes a few hiking options. If you go to the right here, you will travel north and meet Sawmill Wagon Road. Hike and explore to your heart’s content.

Notes: The entire area is mostly flat with a few easy hills and sometimes travels near or through Twin Sisters Creek, which may (or may not) contain water.

You will likely encounter other hikers, their dogs and possibly horses and their riders.

The Gila National Forest Service has a map of the trails in this area. They are located on 32nd Street Bypass.

I spoke with Elizabeth Toney of the Forest Service and she shared some information with me about the Dragonfly Petroglyph Site.

“The Dragonfly Petroglyphs at Fort Bayard were formally recognized and recorded as an archaeological site in 2003 through a joint effort by the Grant County Archaeological Society and the Gila National Forest,” she said. “The site is monitored by the New Mexico SiteWatch program. There are at least three dragonfly petroglyphs at that location along with numerous other petroglyphs. There are many different interpretations for what the dragonfly might mean. Some Archeologists have interpreted the dragonfly in Mimbres culture as a symbol of water and fertility. Archaeologists sometimes use ethnographic analogy to also interpret what the dragonfly petroglyph might mean. There are stories that describe the dragonfly as a creature that brought food to people in times of famine. The dragonfly is also thought of as a shamanistic creature that are messenger-type beings sent to open up springs.”

Buildings, days gone by

Jeffrey’s family has been in the Silver City area for generations. I asked him to tell us about the good old days.

As we walked, Jeffrey shares some remembrances and family history. First he describes how Silver City has changed.

“JC Penney was on Bullard Street where Workshops of Carneros was,” he said. “TG&Y (a five-and-dime) was where the Billy Casper Wellness Center now stands. Smith’s Music was on Bullard where Manzanita Ridge is currently. There was a store called “Sprouse-Reitz” (five and dime) where Sun Valley is today. Piggly Wiggly (supermarket) was where Family Dollar (corner of highways180 and 90) is today, and next to that was Anthony’s Clothing. The first Walmart was where Ace Hardware is now. On Highway 180, where the County Administration building now stands was a variety of department stores. Bealls used to be a Kmart.

Then he tells me about his family.

“One grandmother was born in Catron County and another in Cleveland Mine. My mother was born in Santa Rita. In order to visit family in Pinos Altos, they would travel from Santa Rita in a wagon. She told me it took three days.”

Then Jeffrey described some memories of his childhood. He attended the Sixth Street School until, in second grade (circa 1984), someone set it on fire. At that point they went to classes in the library at Jose Barrios until portable classrooms were set up at Harrison Schmitt School. That chain of events caused him to miss out on an experience he had looked forward to as a child.

“Miss Packard was the third grade teacher at Sixth Street School and every year around Christmas she invited her class to her home on Broadway (now “The Inn on Broadway”). I remember my cousins describing how they slid down the banister. Because of that fire, I never was able to do that.”

“You should put that on your bucket list,” I told him.

“I actually was at a meeting at the Inn on Broadway” once,” Jeffrey said with a laugh. “And I was so tempted to do it!”
This is a repost of an article that was originally published in December 2014 in Desert Exposure.


Hike #92 – Gila National Forest – Sheep Corral Canyon Rd – FR 4083T

AKA: Hunter’s Highway

This hike was crowded…. the hunters are out!! We walked on Sheep Corral Canyon Rd way up at about the 5.9 mile mark. We saw many (too many) hunters out for the week-end. There were 5 RV’s up there, one tent, and several ATV’s moving about. Note to self: time to wear my orange t-shirt. Don’t worry Cary, we didn’t hear any shooting; they generally hunt at day break and night fall. Even so, I kept the dogs close by so they weren’t mistaken for targets.

Dora, Cody, Cisco and I hiked partly on the road and the rest of the way on Forest Road 4083T. This area is mountainous and we were continually catching our breaths on the uphill climbs. The landscape is worth it though; there are many pine trees and periodically long-range views peak through the trees. The road gets a little rough in spots but is drivable for most of the way. Just take it slow.

And another good thing: we finally saw the road’s namesake: Sheep’s Corral! There must have been a small community there because we also saw a water holding tank, a second tank, a man-made rock wall, a solar panel (sometimes used for well pumps) and a variety of pipes and such. I am asking some of the locals for how the corral got there, who used it, etc. I just love the old stories! I’ll add to this post if I hear any of the history.

Before we loaded up the car, we explored FR 4083T for about 15 minutes. It looks like a good trail for hikers. I’ll explore it more in the future.

And now it’s time to go to a Labor Day BBQ.

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2.83 Miles / 2.0 Hours

92 down /8 to go

A Hike Through The Ages

One of the many views we enjoyed today.

04-06-12 – Pony Hill and Fort Cummings

Let me describe how I determined this hike. I asked Bob Pelham for his suggestions, and Bob is the kind of guy you want to ask since his boots have touched more New Mexico rocks than anyone I know. I suggest his hike to a friend who tells another friend where we’re going. The second friend mentions another nearby location ‘you don’t want to miss while you’re in the area’. And that is how a wonderful hiking adventure begins in the southwest part of New Mexico.

We head south towards Deming, New Mexico to find Petroglyphs and Fort Cummings. The day truly feels like a hike through time as we first find Petroglyphs aged 750-1100 years old. We drive up Green Leaf Mine Road off of Highway 26. There is a variety of mining evidence visible along the way. That’s an adventure for another day. We continue on with Helen recalling the verbal directions given to her. As described, we come to a second man-made damn and look for the parking lot, which we find easily. There is a kind gentleman (or should I call him a Petroglyphs Hunter) there who points us in the right direction. We gear up and head out. We soon find a rocky hill and start looking around at the boulders. Helen calls out that she’s found Petroglyphs and what follows is a wild period of pointing out drawings to each other – a mesmerizing hunt which the man we met in the parking lot soon joins. We have found the bulk of the Petroglyphs he has researched and hoped to find and we spend time photographing and talking and just being fascinated.

The footprint on the right is from my walking stick and the one on the right is someone else's footprint!

As I commonly do, at one point, I touch one of the shapes and close my eyes and try to imagine the person who made the drawing and their life. I did it at the Coliseum in Rome, at the Gila Cliff Dwellings, in a Mosque in southern Spain and now here on Pony Hill in New Mexico. I can’t begin to comprehend their difficulties and struggles.

Our new friend, Bill, took us a few hundred yards away and showed us the Petroglyphs he had found earlier. When we got there, we saw two other men who turned out to be the caretaker of the area and his friend. We spoke a few minutes and the caretaker asked if we had seen the macaw. He took us to the area and we saw many more drawings. Eventually, we had to move on since Fort Cummings awaited us. We exchanged email addresses with Bill, promising to share photographs, and ultimately moved on.

Me, Helen and Elsa with the Macaw Petroglyph - awesome!

We have two sets of directions for Fort Cummings, one from a website and one from a map. We head off and after some dirt road driving, come to a sign that says Hyatt Ranch and sure enough, on the map, right near Ft. Cummings, it has the words, Hyatt Ranch. Okay, we’re in the right vicinity. We head off and soon run into who must be Mrs. Hyatt, who we speak to and she gives her permission for us to reach Ft. Cummings through her ranch gate. Off we go, calling “thank you” behind us. The adventure that begins here is of Thelma and Louise legend. Mrs. Hyatt tells us to go through the gate and go two miles and we’ll be at Ft. Cummings. She also tells us that her road is better than the road we missed, so we can come back through this way on our way out. Sounds easy enough? Either Mrs. Hyatt has not been on her roads for a very long time, or we’re the idiots we think we are. We head out and very soon hit a fork. We pick one and soon find another fork, and another. Mrs. Hyatt, you didn’t mention any of this. We see a newer road that was recently cut and speculate that perhaps this is the way. We climb up this road; I get out and move large rocks out of the SUV’s path. We make it to the top and although the views are SPECTACULAR, there is no sign of a fort. We wind back down, risking our very lives several times (okay, perhaps all the chocolate I ate has me exaggerating a bit…..) and decide to go back towards the beginning of our directions and start over. FINALLY, we find the right road and presently Ft. Cummings appears to our left.

Here is a short overview of the history of Fort Cummings:

We enjoy exploring the area and reading the descriptions scattered around the area. It’s fascinating and a walk in history back about 150 years. This area of the country may look desolate but it certainly had a lot of humans living here in the past 1000 years!

Helen and Elsa checking out one of the ruins - Cooke's Peak in the distance.

These adobe walls used to be the provision building.

This is the building where the spring is. This is the whole reason for this fort - water!

There are a variety of building foundations, parts of walls, the very important water building and a cemetery that we investigate. Looking at Fort Cummings photos on the internet, I see that it has deteriorated much in a short time.

Deming may be missing an opportunity to have people see this whole area. I can only imagine what some of the side roads hold. As I put some of photographs on Facebook, I’m already getting feedback on other sites in the area, Frying Pan Canyon being one of them. Now doesn’t that name just scream “Wild, Wild West???”

A hard trek up a mountainside - well worth the effort!

2.49 miles / 7.0 hours

53 down / 47 to go