An adobe chapel in Los Ranchos, New Mexico, 1938.

A Pictorial History of New Mexico

curated from public archives
and personal collections

The historic pictures in this archive chronicle life in 19th and early 20th-century New Mexico. Old photographs, vintage documents and ephemera, and other materials form a narrative of the people, places, and events that have shaped New Mexico's cultural identity.

Mar 2, 2018

Black & white photo of burros loaded with firewood in the middle of the wide dirt street lined with trees, buildings, and telegraph poles.

If one burro carrying firewood wasn't enough for you, how about six? In this photo taken around 1895-1900, a burro train is making its way down a dirt street in the neighborhood of old Fort Marcy in Santa Fe. The wooden tower to the right houses an alarm bell for the fire department just below it. Commercial buildings and trees line the other side of the road.

Feb 25, 2018

Black & white photo of a burro with a load of firewood on its back walking down a dirt city street, followed by a man.

In this scene of daily life in 1890, a burro trudges down a dirt street in a New Mexico town carrying a load of firewood. It is followed by a man in a hat. Behind them a horse and cart wait by a telephone pole, in front of a large brick building.

Feb 20, 2018

Handwritten receipt for sale of a wagon for $230 in 1865.

This handwritten note, described only as a "receipt for a wagon," first caught my attention as an interesting tidbit of daily life in the 1860s. But as I investigated I discovered the seemingly innocuous receipt was a relic of a tragic episode in Navajo and U.S. history. The “waggon” in question was sold to George Herbert by Michael Steck, Superintendent of the New Mexico Bureau of Indian Affairs, for $230 (along with a “waggon sheet” for $20) on Feburary 1st, 1865. The note at the bottom states:

The above waggon was brought to Santa Fe as transportation for hands accompanying the Navajo train and sold for more than first cost and credited to the U.S. Su a?t?uvurent

I can’t quite make out that last bit about where the profit was credited to, but there was profit indeed on this second-hand wagon. It’s the description of the wagon’s prior use that connects this piece of paper to a bigger part of history—the euphamistically titled “Navajo train,” better known as The Long Walk.

Feb 14, 2018

Black & white photograph from 1911 of cowboy George McJunkin on his horse.

African-American cowboy George McJunkin, foreman of the Crowfoot Ranch and discoverer of the important Folsom Man site that would have such dramatic impact on North American archaeology. This photo was probably taken in 1911, three years after McJunkin’s discovery, and shows him on his horse, "Headless."

McJunkin was a remarkable man. Born in Midway, Texas, in 1851, he survived slavery and the Cilvil War. As a teenager he joined his first cattle drive and began a long career as a cowboy, becoming known for his horse-breaking and roping skills—skills he traded for reading lessons. McJunkin had an insatiable appetite for knowledge, and became an amateur natrualist, building a large collection of books and artifacts.

Feb 10, 2018

Black & white photograph of U.S. Infantry troops silhouetted against an open sky.

In March 1916, the village of Columbus, New Mexico, was attacked by the troops of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. Ten townspeople and eight soldiers were killed. President Woodrow Wilson ordered the notorious General John Pershing to pursue the revolutionists into Mexico and capture Pancho Villa. Pershing led 10,000 men in the U.S. Army Punitive Expedition—now known as the Mexican Expedition, and commmonly as the Pancho Villa Expedition—over 350 miles in pursuit of the Villistas. The expedition defeated Villa’s troops, but failed to capture the man himself.