Jim Rogers of Intrepid Development watches heavy equipment roll through the former Price's Dairy property.
Former Price’s Dairy owner talks with Signpost
Layers of history peeled away as Dudley Price watched earth moving equipment rumble across his former dairy farm.
In pre-Spanish America, Santiago Pueblo, a structure of perhaps five hundred rooms, stood here on a terrace above the Rio Grande. When Francisco Vásquez de Coronado came hunting the Cities of Gold nearly five hundred years ago, he established his winter camp here.
The Price family arrived just over a century ago in El Paso, Texas, where Dudley's grandmother found herself widowed with four children and a single milk cow.
With Dudley buying the Ridge Dairy across the Rio Grande from Bernalillo thirty-four years ago, the family holdings would grow to five dairies with the Price name gracing dairy products consumed across New Mexico and west Texas.
Much has changed since then. Price has retired, the dairies are closed or have been sold to new owners, and the once rural 168 acres now annexed into Bernalillo bumps up against Rio Rancho, the state's fifth-largest city, which was barely a blip on a map in the early 1970s.
“We were essentially the only thing out here,” Price said during the April 8 groundbreaking for the Santiago Community, a 780-home development now rising on the property. “It's hard to believe, looking around today.”
Price closed the diary in 1998 and eventually began looking for someone to redevelop the property, which led to Jim Rogers and another historical connection. Rogers's grandfather was the prominent lawyer and historian William Keleher, who had been the Price family attorney and a friend of Bob Price, Dudley's father.
Keleher also was a friend of hotelier and New Mexico native Conrad Hilton, who credits the elder Price and other investors with advancing the money he needed to restart his hotel empire after going bust during the Depression. For many years, Hilton was an investor in the Price dairies.
Before the Spanish arrived, a dozen large pueblos stretched from Bernalillo to Isleta, Jim Walker, southwest regional director of the Archeological Conservancy, said at the groundbreaking. It was known that Coronado—Walker calls him New Mexico's first foreign tourist—spent the winter of 1540-41 camped beside one of the them, but exactly which remained a mystery.
Then, in 1986, workers widening NM 528 uncovered fire pits and Spanish artifacts, and a state archaeologist did the rest.
Little of the pueblo remains, however, as it was on state land leased in the 1930s to quarry gravel. The state did excavate and document the pueblo, leaving behind only a small portion and the Coronado site, both of which were donated to the conservancy for an interpretive site by Rogers's company, Intrepid Development LLC.
“This is the only, only Spanish-contact-period site we have ever found, which makes it really rare and really special,” Walker said. “I want to thank Intrepid for doing the right thing.”
Price told the Signpost the latest transformation of the property was logical and made without regret. “When it's time, it's time,” he said.
Agroforestry consultant to speak on food production in Ethiopia
Kent Reid, an agroforestry consultant and Placitas resident, will speak on improving food production in the villages of the poverty-stricken Amhara Plateau area of north-central Ethiopia. The lecture, with slides and a written summary of his work to be made available to those attending, will begin at 7:30 p.m., Monday, May 9, at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church.
Reid recently returned from East Africa after a two-and-a-half-year assignment with a USAID-funded consortium led by Virginia Tech, with Cornell University and several African research and service organizations taking part. The project has developed new food-producing technologies, improved soil and water conservation, and helped subsistence farmers work together on watershed restoration and management.
The Amhara Plateau is populated by thirteen million ethnically distinct, white-garbed Amhara people of Semitic origin who trace their roots to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Although the eighteen-year brutal civil war ended in Ethiopia in 1991, today the Amhara are desperately poor and constantly on the point of starvation. Life expectancy is forty-six years; infant mortality is at nearly 14 percent. Children from the age of five or six are charged with watching family animals, mainly sheep, while their parents tend to vegetables and grains on small terraced plots in the rugged mountain terrain.
As the chief advisor on rehabilitating watersheds, Reid organized local communities and technical people to improve natural-resource management practices and during his years there became intimately involved with village residents. In his talk he will offer glimpses into daily life in rural Ethiopia, provide a brief overview of historic sites, and discuss the need for international participation in the economic development of Third World areas. Reid has remained involved in international development issues since he went to Nicaragua with the Peace Corps in 1978.
The talk is sponsored by the Las Placitas Earth Care Committee. Admission is free, although an offering will be taken for rural Ethiopian charitable organizations. Las Placitas Presbyterian Church is on NM 165, six and a half miles east of I-25. For further information, please contact Leland Bowen, chair, Earth Care Committee, at 867-2731 or email@example.com.