The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


Bernalillo gears up for car show

The Town of Bernalillo is hosting its first annual Old Route 66 Classic, Antique & Custom Car Show on Saturday, July 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Loretto Park (the same location as the Bernalillo Wine Festival) in Bernalillo. This is a family-oriented event and is free and open to the public. This event will feature local food vendors, kids’ jumps, and local live entertainment.

Registration (by July 7th) is $20 for cars, $15 for motorcycles, and $10 for bicycles and the Car Corral. Registration for all cars, motorcycles, and bicycle exhibitors includes a free t-shirt. Late registration for all categories is $25. Registration fee for food vendors is $75, while registration for all other vendors (such as merchandise vendors) is $50.

The Car Show events will include a meet-and-greet on Friday, July 25 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m., followed by a rally at 8:00 p.m. There will also be an awards presentation during the show on July 26 at 3:00 pm.

The official vendor application and car show registration forms can be downloaded by going to and clicking on the Community Events link. For more information, please contact Felicia Trujillo at (505) 771-7121, or Valarie Wilkins or Danette Lovato at (505) 242-8355.

Bernalillo promotes cottonwood tree planting

Mayor Patricia A. Chávez and the Bernalillo Parks Department are promoting the preservation of Bernalillo’s tree canopy and encouraging residents to obtain and plant Rio Grande cottonwood trees on their private property throughout the community. The Town of Bernalillo Parks Department will host the first annual Keep Bernalillo Beautiful cottonwood tree sale in conjunction with the town’s Fireworks Showcase on June 29 at 4:00 p.m. at Bernalillo High School. Tree sales will end at dusk when the fireworks celebration begins.

Native Rio Grande cottonwoods are indigenous to the Rio Grande Valley, are common to our area, and are considered moderately drought-tolerant once established. Trees can provide a vast amount of shade very quickly, and will be sold below retail market price to encourage residential planting. They will be available in a variety of sizes and prices: $5.50 in one gallon containers; $8.50 in two gallon containers; $17 in five gallon containers; and $40 in fifteen gallon containers.

El Rinconcito Español

• El que al cielo escupe, en la cara le cae.
He who spits towards the sky, in his face falls the spittle.

• Quien sabe dos lenguas vale por dos.
He who knows two languages has double value.

• Cada cabeza es un mundo.
Each head is a world.

Submitted by, Placitas—Spanish instruction that focuses on oral communication skills.

Independence Day festivities abound

Rio Rancho:
On Friday, July 4, the City of Rio Rancho will recognize our country’s Independence Day with a parade, ceremony, concerts, and fireworks display.

The parade will kick off at 10:00 a.m., head east from Country Club Drive down Southern Boulevard, and will end on Pinetree Road near the Esther Bone Memorial Library and the Rio Rancho Veterans’ Monument Park. Over two dozen entries consisting of classic cars, military organizations, and much more will make up this year’s parade.

Immediately following the parade, a ceremony marking the 232nd anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence will take place at the Veterans’ Monument Park. The ceremony will begin at approximately 11:00 a.m. and will include several guest speakers.

The 4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza claims to be one of the biggest and best fireworks shows in the state. Loma Colorado Park, located at 555 Loma Colorado Drive, will be the optimal location to watch this entertaining display that will fill the city’s skyline. Parking will be available at the adjacent Rio Rancho High School for a fee of $5 per car or van, with proceeds benefitting the High School Booster Club. Handicapped parking will be located at the parking lot next to the park.

The park will open to the public at 3:30 p.m. and the live musical entertainment will kick off at 4:00 p.m. with The Stingrays. Red Letter F will perform from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and The Hit Squad will conclude the night’s musical entertainment from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The fireworks show will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Activities for children and food will be available for purchase. O’Hare’s Grill and Pub will have hot dogs, barbecue sandwiches, cotton candy, Hawaiian ice, and more available.

This event is sponsored by the city’s Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department, and is free to the public. The fireworks show and its start time are subject to weather. This is an alcohol-free event.

For more information, call (505) 891-5015 or visit

The Town of Bernalillo will present a Fireworks Showcase and activities starting at dusk at Bernalillo High School on June 29. For further details, call the Town at 867-3311.

The traditional Placitas Fourth of July parade includes no speeches or best float prizes. At 10:00 a.m. on July 4, anyone who would like to participate in the parade should meet in front of Placitas Heights. Residents will probably begin lining the Village streets at around 10:30 a.m. At 11:00, some will watch while others follow volunteer fire brigade vehicles on bicycles, funky floats, cart-pulling llamas, and in antique cars in a loop through the Village of Placitas. At least, that's the way it has always happened before.

Cabezon Peak

Cabezon Peak

Old church sign at Cabezon

Old church sign at Cabezon

In the shadow of a giant

Even before you leave the paved road, you sense this place is different. The air is crisper, the sun is brighter, and the high desert scenery is otherworldly. Then, once you set off down the rutted dirt road, you begin to feel as if you are lost—as if someone is watching.

This is Cabezón Country, a remote region located approximately twenty miles northwest of the small town of San Ysidro. Millions of years ago, it was under an inland sea, but during the Pliocene epoch (about 5.3 million years ago), Mount Taylor in the nearby San Mateo Mountains became active. Repeated eruptions built lava domes, produced lava flows, and created a field of smaller volcanoes. Molten lava worked its way through the sedimentary rock layers deposited by the ancient sea. As time and weather removed much of the soft sedimentary rock, they left behind erosion-resistant basaltic columns or volcanic necks. Composed of solidified magma mixed with fragmental rock materials, these necks are the fossilized remains of the innards of the volcanoes.

Although there are at least fifty volcanic necks in the lava fields of Mount Taylor, Cabezón Peak, rising 7,785 feet above sea level, is the most prominent. The early Indians who lived on this rugged land thought the peak was sacred and each tribe had a name for it. The Hemish (Jemez) called it Wasema’a; the Taugweaga (Isleta) called it Tchi’kuienad; and the Diné (Navajo) called it Tse Najin. According to one legend, the Navajos believed the “black rock” was the head of Ye-itso, the giant killed by the Twin War Gods, and that the lava flow, now known as El Malpais, was his congealed blood.

When Spanish explorers came upon the scene in the mid-1700s, they named the peak “Cabezón,” meaning the big head. They built settlements and raised cattle. Terrorized by the natives, the settlers fled for their lives following numerous attacks. However, before the end of the nineteenth century, four or five villages had taken root. One of them was Cabezón.

Living in the shadow of the giant wasn’t easy. Although the 140-mile-long Rio Puerco flowed through the region, it was muddy and often dry. A stagecoach operating on the Old Fort Wingate trail brought in goods and mail, but only when the weather cooperated. For a time, the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad considered running tracks through Cabezón, however, Albuquerque seemed a better and more profitable route, so the little town lost out.

In 1874, William Kanzenbach opened a store and saloon in Cabezón. When money became a problem, he sold his business to Richard Heller and John Pflueger, who turned things around and made a profit by trading food and supplies for sheep and cattle. There was plenty of open range for the livestock to feed, and their numbers increased dramatically. At one point, the two men had a herd of ten thousand sheep and several thousand cattle. They shipped the cattle to market, and sheared the sheep and sold the wool. Pflueger eventually sold his share of the business to Heller, who built a new, larger store, a fourteen-room adobe hotel, and a post office. Heller even helped build a little church, La Iglesia de San José.

Life was good in Cabezón, and the population eventually soared to more than 250 people. However, the drought of the 1930s resulted in the U.S. government passing the Taylor Grazing Act, aimed at curbing overgrazing and unrestricted use of public lands. Suddenly, everything changed. Ranchers who once let their cattle roam freely now had to obtain permits limiting the amount of land they could use, as well as the number of animals they could graze on that land. Ranchers who were able to obtain such permits survived; those who could not drifted away, leaving behind nothing but parched fields and broken dreams. Unwilling to give up his home or business, Heller remained in Cabezón until his death in 1947. His widow tried to keep the store running, but ended up closing it and moving to Albuquerque a year later.

These days, all that remains of Cabezón are a few deteriorating buildings and some scraggly tumbleweeds. There are no stores, no gas stations, and no places to rent videos or order lattes. Even so, in 1973, Hollywood decided it was the ideal setting for Tonino Valerii’s comic western, “My Name is Nobody,” which starred Terence Hill as Nobody and Henry Fonda as an aging outlaw trying to go out in a blaze of glory. Since then, many of Cabezón’s abandoned buildings have appeared in numerous films and television commercials. Unfortunately, possibly because of those movies and commercials, vandals discovered the old ghost town. Over the years, they broke windows, desecrated graves, and stole whatever they thought had value. Because of such destructive actions, the road leading into Cabezón is now gated and padlocked. However, if you hike the rocky trail that leads to the top of the Peak, you can see what is left of the old town. Just don’t try entering, because the few people who live there don’t appreciate uninvited visitors.

Some people say ghosts haunt the ruins of Cabezón. Others think it’s the giant. Maybe he didn’t die, after all. Maybe he has just been sleeping. Maybe that’s why it feels like someone is watching as you drive down the road that lies in his shadow.

The following driving directions to Cabezón are provided by New Mexico Bureau of Land Management:

Entry into the area is best gained by turning westward from US 550 onto County Road 279, approximately twenty miles northwest of San Ysidro. A green highway sign labeled “San Luis-Cabezón” marks the turnoff. Continue twelve miles southwest past the village of San Luis to the Cabezón turnoff onto BLM Road 1114. The pavement ends just beyond San Luis. Follow BLM 1114 for 2.9 miles to the dirt route that leads east to the trailhead. Travel on CR 279 and BLM 1114 is good during dry conditions but can be slippery during the rainy season and impassable during the winter. Check with the BLM at (505) 761-8700 before your visit.

Volunteers find less trash in Corrales

Sandoval County Commissioner Donnie Leonard said motorists and property owners are to be commended for a “significant” reduction in litter along roadways in at least a portion of his district.

Leonard and about twenty volunteers led by Girl Scout Troop 1158 and their families conducted a four-hour roadway trash clean-up drive on Sunday along both Corrales Road and the south end of Loma Larga Road in Corrales.

“We found a significant reduction in the amount of bottles, cans, and even cigarette butts this year as compared to similar drives in prior years,” said Leonard, whose Commission District 2 includes Corrales and southeastern Rio Rancho.

“Not only are motorists tossing less trash out of vehicles, property owners are keeping their property clean, well maintained, and weed-free,” Leonard said. “Those efforts by land owners are keeping the community clean and may be encouraging motorists to litter less,” Leonard said.

The Corrales clean-up drive was sponsored by Sandoval County, which works with non-profit youth groups to conduct similar trash pick-up campaigns throughout the County each spring and fall. The County provides volunteer groups with gloves, vests, and trash bags under a grant from New Mexico Clean and Beautiful. The gloves and vests are returned to the County for reuse in later clean-up efforts.

Elena Kayak, who coordinated the clean-up drive for Girl Scout Troop 1158, said the scouts volunteered their work as part of an effort to earn the Girl Scouts’ Sign of the Rainbow award.

She said volunteers collected about forty-five bags of trash along the two roads, or about one-third less than during similar cleanup drives in prior years.

“There was still a good deal of trash to pick up, but it was a lot less than in our efforts in earlier years,” Kayak said. “Corrales Road was in much better condition than we have seen it before.”

Kayak said the troop moved to the south end of Loma Larga Road in Corrales where litter was more prevalent. The troop will conduct a concentrated effort along Loma Larga in the fall.

“Cleaning up the community on a beautiful day beats a workout in the gym hands-down,” she said. “It’s a great way to get exercise and converse with friends while providing a needed service.”

Friends of Coronado State Monument present July programs

The Friends of Coronado State Monument are presenting two programs in July. First will be a tour of Pecos National Monument on July 19. Participants should plan to meet at Coronado State Monument at 7:30 a.m. to carpool to Pecos, a distance of approximately seventy-three miles.

The ancestral Puebloans knew their real estate. Located on a hilltop overlooking the beautiful Pecos River Valley, the Pueblo was ideally situated for both farming and defense. However, the ancient pueblo was best known as a trading center linking the Puebloans with the Plains tribes. At 10 a.m., a guide will lead a tour of the ruins, which include the remains of a large mission complex. Picnic tables are available for those wishing to eat at the Monument, or a short drive will take you back to Santa Fe for dining.

Remember to wear a hat, sunglasses, comfortable walking shoes, and bring water. We also ask that you offer to help your driving host with gasoline expenses. The tour is open to the public, and no reservations are needed. Admission to the monument is $3 per adult.

The second event, to be held on July 20 at 2:00 p.m., will be a presentation by Alex Candelaria Sedillos on the topic of “The Strange and Mysterious Journey of Don Francisco Vasquez de Coronado.” The great expedition is our American Indian-Hispanic New Mexico legacy today and deserves a re-telling of the story as we know it—and an examination of what we don’t know. This is one of the most fascinating stories of the conquest of the Americas.

Alex Candelaria Sedillos is originally from the Black Range of Southern New Mexico and has family history going back many generations in American Indian life. Along with his daughter Nina, a UNM graduate anthropologist, Alex researches, travels to, writes about, and documents in photography and videography the story of the places and people of the Great Southwest. He has developed a keen interest in the expedition of Vasquez de Coronado and the Pueblo people of the Tiguex. Also, he serves as a Ranger at Coronado State Monument.

The program will be held at Sandoval County Historical Society’s DeLavy House, located on Edmond Road in Bernalillo. To reach DeLavy House, take Highway 550, slightly west of Coronado State Monument, turn north on the west edge of the Phillips 66 gas station and onto a dirt road (Edmond Road). Follow the road to its end. The lecture is open to the public, and no reservations are needed. Admission is $5 per person and is free to members of the Friends of Coronado State Monument.







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