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East Mountain Historical Society

Dedicated to preserving “la cultura de las montañas” – the culture of the mountains.

NEXT BOARD MEETING

DATE: Sat. January 12th
TIME: 10 a.m. to noon
WHERE: Located inside the Historic Church in Tijeras.

Upcoming EMHS Events



To Be Announced

Monthly Calendar of NM Events

A comprehensive monthly calendar of History & Culture Opportunities in New Mexico
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Our Projects

Our volunteer-based organization has chalked up many impressive accomplishments, honors and awards.

Oral History Project of 2012 (Origins and Legacies Historical Services)

Outstanding Volunteer Organization, 1996 (Albuquerque Conservation Association)

In 1993, the Society helped initiate and support completion of a historic building survey of the East Mountain area by University of New Mexico professor Chris Wilson. The survey included several places considered eligible for the Historic Register or for Historic District Status. Copies of this report are available for purchase at EMHS public events and through our online store.

In 1995, with a $1,000 grant from the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities, the Society copied about 200 old photographs loaned by members of 23 East Mountain families as part of a preservation campaign and future historical exhibit.

In 1996, the Society secured a $4,000 grant from the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities to print photographs and create a 12-panel exhibit describing East Mountain history and culture. This portable exhibit has been displayed in the old Santo Niño Church in Tijeras, the Cañon de Carnue Land Grant Hall, local community centers, the Tijeras Library, and in schools and other community sites.

In 1997, the Society, in cooperation with the Village of Tijeras, applied for and secured a grant for transportation enhancement funding under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). The $32,000 grant was used to structurally renovate the Tijeras Historical Church (Santo Niño). EMHS had used Santo Niño in the early 1990s for historical and cultural exhibits, and EMHS volunteers participated in cleaning and repairing the old church.

In 2012, New Mexico's Centennial year, the Society's Great People, Great Stories was named Oral History Project of 2012 by Origins and Legacies Historical Services.

The Society and its members have been involved in the preservation and protection of archaeological ruins located on or near the Sandia Mountains, including those at Paa-Ko. Significantly, the Society was part of a coalition, led by member Louise Waldron, which worked tirelessly for the preservation of Open Space acreage at Tres Pistolas in Tijeras Canyon. Ongoing efforts are directed now at the Selva Ruin Site, also in Tijeras Canyon. Most recently, the Society actively served as part of the coalition that helped convince state and local representatives to purchase 420 acres of private land near Cedar Crest, which more than doubled Gutierrez Canyon (Milne) Open Space, an area of historic interest.

The East Mountain Historical Society has received the Oral History Project of 2012 award for its "Great People, Great Stories" interviews conducted 2011-12 among East Mountain residents.

The award was presented to Kris Thacher, oral history project coordinator, and Denise Tessier, EMHS president, by noted oral historian Rose Diaz of Origins and Legacies Historical Services. The honor came during a three-hour celebration June 3 honoring the 15 East Mountain-area residents who had shared their life stories through the "Great People, Great Stories" oral history pilot project. The event was held at the historic church in Tijeras and adjacent Luis Garcia Park.

During that event, visitors were overflowing out the church door as each of those interviewed received a binder from EMHS containing a recognition certificate, honorary membership in the East Mountain Historical Society, a DVD of each person's oral history interview and two copies of a full-color booklet produced by EMHS. The booklet featured two pages of photos and a summary of the lives of each of the 15 interview subjects. The participants were also featured in a slide show by EMHS.

Before the presentation, the honorees heard a short talk from Diaz, who in turn honored the East Mountain Historical Society by announcing that "Great People, Great Stories" had been named project of the year.

The project also was noted the following week by the Bernalillo County Commission, when Tessier was recognized for preserving history as a writer and lecturer, including service as president of EMHS, which is celebrating its 20th year, and for helping to launch the oral history project with Thacher.

The oral history project was made possible via a grant from the county's Neighborhood Association Outreach Grant Program, which was used to train 10 community historians, purchase recording equipment and create the binder, booklet and DVDs. The East Mountain Area Coalition of Neighborhoods agreed to act as sponsor so that EMHS could conduct the project using the grant.

The commemorative booklet "Great People, Great Stories" was created for the interview subjects and their families, and features Mike Anaya and Rita Anaya Davis of Moriarty, Juan Candelaria of Cedar Crest / San Antonito, Lois Cavasos of Stanley, Marie Herrera Dresser of Carnuel, Andy Gonzales of San Antonio, Ciria Gonzales of La Madera, Angie Gutierrez of Chilili, Jim Hanlon of Sandia Park, Eloy Jaramillo of Carnuel, Lillian Lincoln of Tijeras, Lewis McComb, from the easternmost edge of Bernalillo County, Rachel Maldonado of Juan Tomas/Yrissari, Fidel Padilla of Abo and Rita Loy Horton Simmons of Edgewood.

Oral history committee members who conducted the interviews and wrote summaries for the booklet included Thacher, Tessier, Nancy Carpenter, Anabel Sanchez, Beverly Neville, Christine Smith, Jim Hanlon, Danita Luker, and Carol Frederick. Carpenter created the slide show and some of the still photographs for the booklet, which was edited and designed by Melissa Howard and printed by Kathy Rich, all members of EMHS.

Eventually, these oral histories will be made public and archived at the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico as additions to the East Mountain Historical Society collection. First, however, they must be transcribed, and although the pilot project grant period is ended, EMHS intends to continue conducting oral histories. 

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Settling the East Mountains

Ancestors of the pueblo Indians first settled the East Mountains about 700 A.D., visible remains of which may be seen at Tijeras Pueblo off north NM 337, just south of Interstate 40. Spanish missionaries arrived in the early 1600s, and founded missions at six locations, including Chilili, Tajique, Quarai and Abo. Spanish colonial settlers built estancias (large farm-ranch centers) between Chilili and Quarai. Drought and Apache raids forced a Spanish retreat about 1670, but settlers returned in 1763 to establish a plaza at Carnuel at the mouth of Tijeras Canyon. After a difficult start, more Spanish colonists arrived in the early 1800s, establishing farms and villages on lands north and south along what is today NM 14. A third wave of immigrants arrived in the early 1900s, as cabins were built to accommodate Anglo-Americans from Albuquerque drawn to the mountains for summer recreation and those from all over the nation drawn by the cool air believed to help in the cure of tuberculosis. After World War II, the mountains became a bedroom community for Albuquerque, as commuter homes and subdivisions took shape. Today, the area generally known as the East Mountains is home to more than 10,000 residents.

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Our Address

East Mountain Historical Society
PO Box 106               
Tijeras, NM 87059

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