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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.

Historical Talk To Focus On Stories About Torreon

Sunday, April 29th at 2 pm | Open to the Public


Judy Alderete Garcia will talk about the stories she collected for her book, Memories of Torreon, New Mexico, at a free public presentation sponsored by the East Mountain Historical Society. The talk will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 29, at the historic church in the little park next to the library in Tijeras.

Garcia describes her book as a collection of stories about the people of Torreon, written "to preserve the unique culture, history and traditions of the people of the Manzano Mountains." She says it is also "a way to educate others about the ever-changing culture of New Mexicans."

Garcia was born and raised in Albuquerque, but spent many weekends in the South Highway 14 (NM 10) village of Torreon as a child visiting her grandparents. Garcia holds a bachelor's degree from the University of New Mexico, with a double major in Spanish and Women's Studies and a minor in Chicano Studies. She plays New Mexico music on Thursday nights on 89.1 KANW.

Her book will be available for sale and autographing at the talk.

Refreshments will be served and the East Mountain Historical Society will be selling its 2018 calendar, East Mountains: Then and Now. Also available will be the group's maps of vanishing East Mountain historic sites, in poster or folded form, Route 66 vintage reproduction postcards and turquoise-colored East Mountain Historical Society T-shirts, featuring its "Cultura de las Montanas" (culture of the mountains) logo. The group's sales benefit the all-volunteer historical society.


for 2018 East Mountains - Then and Now - Calendars
Reprints of East Mountain / Route 66 Postcards
Official EMHS Tee Shirts
Map of Historic East Mountain Communities
Booklets, and lots more!

East Mountain Historical Society Honored for Oral History Project

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. For more information and for photos about the June 3 event, visit our newsletters page.


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