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History Museum’s Chávez Library wins national award

The American Association for State and Local History will bestow their Award of Merit for Leadership in History to the New Mexico History Museum at their annual awards banquet on September 16. This prestigious award recognizes the museum’s Historic New Mexico Maps project, the culmination of a four-year effort to catalog more than six thousand maps, along with hosting an array of public programs and producing Historic Maps as Teaching Tools: A Curriculum Guide for Grades five through eight. Patricia Hewitt of the museum’s Fray Angélico Chávez History Library oversaw the project. She and the museum share the award with the co-writers of the curriculum guide, Drs. Judy and Dennis Reinhartz of Santa Fe.

The Chavez Library’s map collection encompasses all of New Mexico history, from Spanish Colonial to Mexican Republic, U.S. territorial and statehood periods. From the smallest map (4 x 5 ½ in.) to the largest (13 x 122 ft.), the museum’s map collection includes more than 1,100 road maps, eight hundred railroad maps, and two thousand topographic maps—all of them now available to researchers and interested members of the public visiting the library. (A plan to digitize the collection awaits appropriate funding and staffing.)

A free two-day Map Mania Symposium (co-sponsored by the Historical Society of New Mexico) will be held on June 24 and 25, 2016, in the History Museum’s auditorium.

The New Mexico History Museum is located at 113 Lincoln Avenue in Santa Fe.

The American Mastadon is believed to have been hunted to extinction by Clovis People

A Clovis Point
Photo credit: —Wikimedia Commons

The unsatisfactory truth: Clovis Culture and the peopling of the New World

—Matthew J. Barbour, Manager, Jemez Historic Site

Clovis Culture is a highly distinctive complex within the archaeological record. It is best known for its fluted lanceolate projectile points, known as Clovis Points. The distinct nature of these projectile points and the flaked stone technology as a whole makes Clovis Culture relatively easy to identify for archaeologists. However, just about everything that is known about the Clovis Culture is subject to debate.

Traditionally, archaeologists date Clovis Culture from around 10,000 to 9,000 BC. Yet, some believe this archaeological society started much earlier and perhaps continued much later in some regions. Adding to the confusion is that Clovis sites as a whole are poorly dated.

Clovis Points have often been found within the Continental United States and many found in the Southwest and Great Plains regions have been associated with extinct megafauna, such as mammoth. This has led some archaeologists to believe that the Clovis People were focused on hunting large animals and perhaps caused the extinction of many these species in North and South America. However, this extinction also coincides with major ecological changes brought on by the end of the last ice age. Some even believe a giant meteor struck the earth and caused not only the extinction of the megafauna but of the Clovis People in a sort of “cosmic catastrophe” akin to that which wiped out of the dinosaurs.

Genetic studies of the Anzick-1 skeleton from a Clovis Culture archaeological site in Montana suggested Clovis People were related to other groups in northern Asia. This origin matched with the beliefs that many archaeologists have that Native American peoples crossed into the New World via a land bridge in the Bering Sea. From there, most argue that either Native Americans migrated south through an ice-free corridor or hugged the coast in small canoes.

Yet, some have argued the opposite. They argue that, while Native Americans are Asiatic in their genetic makeup, Clovis People were Europeans. Under this theory, Clovis People were related to the Solutrean Culture of Spain and France. These Caucasoid people traveled along the Atlantic ice sheets into North America before being wiped out by the meteor.

However, this notion of an initial European Clovis Culture migration and extinction assumes that Clovis People were the first populate the New World. This too is debated. Sites such as Monte Verde, in Chile, continue to defy this assertion by dating several thousand years prior to the appearance of Clovis Culture. Many of these sites are located in South America, leading some to believe that the peopling of the New World should actually be attributed to Pacific Islanders.

The most recent theory is that Clovis Culture developed in the Sonoran Deserts of Mexico. From there, it spread into the Continental United States. Under this idea, Clovis People can actually be viewed as the first Mexican migrants. Whether this is true or not, it certainly has more credence than the Sandia Culture origins, which can be attributed to several dubious sites in Central New Mexico. The archaeologist, who advocated for this rationale, was posthumously accused of scientific fraud for his part in the debacle.

So why say all this? In short, archaeologists are seen as infallible. This is simply not true. While archaeologists serve as experts on the past and tell compelling stories, these stories are often wrong and rarely agreed upon. In some instances, archaeologists may have even intentionally misled the public for their own notoriety and gain.

Clovis Culture is a prime example. While having been intensely studied by archaeologists for over a century, many of the basic questions regarding Clovis Culture and the peopling of the New World remain unanswerable in a satisfactory way. The stories you read in books and articles are just that: stories. Question these claims.

Placitas residents Mark Dyslin, Bill Wilhelm and Roger Jutte (left to right) stand in front of Santa Fe Railway 2926, a World War II-era steam engine they are helping to restore to running condition.

Santa Fe Railway steam locomotive 2926 poses for admirers during the June dedication of its new engine house in Albuquerque.
—Photos by Bill Diven

Lure of steam engine impossible to resist

—Bill Diven

On an otherwise quiet Saturday morning, the whistle from a steam locomotive pierces the calm in an industrial section of Albuquerque. A Dixieland trio begins belting out “I’ve been working on the railroad,” and a roll-up door reveals the shining face of 2926, a state-of-the-art steam engine that first arrived in 1944 to pull passenger trains for the Santa Fe Railway.

With a shove from a work vehicle, the 2926—all 121 feet and one million pounds when fueled—emerges from its new engine house being dedicated that morning.

Watching the festivities with more than casual interest are Placitas residents Mark      Dyslin, Bill Wilhelm, and Roger Jutte. While none has a background in railroading or as a rail hobbyist, they are part of the volunteer crew restoring the 2926 to operation.

Wilhelm’s path began decades ago, when, as a child, he saw a few of the last steam engines operating near his Oklahoma home. Then around 1981 he and a friend who was into trains paid a 1:00 a.m. visit to the Cheyenne, Wyoming, roundhouse, where the Union Pacific kept steam engines used for excursions.

“There was the 3985 sitting there all fired up,” he said. “It was the most moving experience. It was like that thing was alive, and I was hooked from then on.”

But it was the annual open house in late September three years ago that brought him to the 2926. “I had only seen it in the park,” Wilhelm said referring to Coronado Park where the engine sat from 1956 until 2000. “I was amazed at what they’re doing, what they’re getting done… Everybody was working on it, so I signed up the next day.”

With his varied background from pipeliner to aerospace worker, all involving mechanics and machines, he’s been busy since. Most recently, he’s worked the system and lines that selectively deliver lubricant to different parts of the engine.

“There were no computers,” Jutte said. “It was all done with slide rules and mechanical drawings. It’s fascinating to see they could do that.”

Jutte, retired from a career as an analytical chemist, was simply looking for a place to volunteer when he dropped by the Wheels Museum in Albuquerque. There he learned of the steam engine parked off Eighth Street NW near Interstate 40 and went to take a look.

“I just started driving up Eighth Street until I found it, and there was a phone number on the gate,” he said. Since then, he’s helped wherever needed from cleaning parts to helping rebuild superheater tubes, the extensive piping that reheats the steam from the boiler before putting it to work.

For Dyslin, it was a cousin in Pennsylvania who set the stage by taking him to railroad meetings and events during the ten months he was on his own before joining his wife in Placitas in April. Once here, he discovered Wilhelm and Jutte were among his neighbors and that the 2926 restoration project was looking for volunteers.

“I’ve always liked motorcycles, helicopters, cars, things like that, and here was an opportunity to work on a train,” said Dyslin, who flew Marine Corps helicopters in his earlier years. “That’s a missing link.”

The Baldwin Locomotive Works built the 2926, and it was among the last steam engines delivered to Santa Fe. The New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society bought it from the city of Albuquerque when its fate seemed uncertain as the widening of Interstate 40 ate into the park on Fourth Street NW.

The volunteers’ original goal was to have it running in time for the New Mexico Centennial in 2012. Now there is some confidence it will be operational sometime next year.

In its day, the 2926 easily topped its design speed of one hundred m.p.h. if needed to maintain schedules or make up lost time, according to the society.

Route 66 “Mother Road” show at KiMo

Route 66 opened in November of 1926 and offered a more direct route for driving from Chicago to California. When completed, it ran 2,448 miles, from the cornfields of Illinois to the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The Albuquerque area was a critical junction, and the center of a political scandal due to re-routing what was to be a north/south road to an east/west alignment, resulting in Albuquerque being the only place where the highway crosses itself. Today, Albuquerque boasts the longest single-city urban stretch of the highway in the nation at 16 miles.

In honor of the 90th anniversary of Route 66, the Albuquerque Museum and KiMo Theatre are partnering to present “Mother Road Movies,” a series of films in which historic Route 66, known as The Mother Road, plays a role. The series is in conjunction with Albuquerque Museum’s new exhibition, Route 66: Radiance, Rust and Revival on the Mother Road. Films will screen at the KiMo Theatre, beginning at at 7 p.m. on the following nights: July 7: Two Lane Blacktop (1971) and July 14: Starman (1984). Tickets for each screening are five dollars. The Theatre is located at 423 Central Avenue NW.

Live music, outdoor movies in Rio Rancho

The city of Rio Rancho Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department invites citizens to join their neighbors, families, and friends and spend summer nights at A Park Above, located at 2441 Westside Court, to enjoy free movies outdoors.

Family-friendly movies will be shown on the following Friday nights: July 8, July 15, July 22, and July 29. Movies will begin at dusk and all ages are welcome.  Bringing blankets, folding chairs and picnic baskets is encouraged. Restrooms will be available. Alcoholic beverages and smoking are not permitted. If there is inclement weather, including wind and lightning, movies will be cancelled. Weather cancellations will be made one hour prior to the start of the movie.

Also scheduled for this summer is a series of musical Sunday nights. Enjoy some of the area’s most popular music acts at Haynes Park, 2006 Grande Boulevard. Bands will play from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Bring lawn chairs, blankets, and a picnic.

Those scheduled to perform include:

July 3: The Click; July 10: Bluesol; July 17: Roger Jameson; July 24: Java Fix; July 31: The Hit Squad; August 7: Java Fix; August 14: Roger Jameson; August 21: High Desert; August 28: Symphonic.

The music acts are subject to change and events can be cancelled due to weather. For additional information, call 891-5015.

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