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The Comancheros and their Carretas
Comanchero Traders and their Trails - The Comanchero trade, which spanned the arid lands between the Rio Grande settlements and pueblos of north central New Mexico and the buffalo plains of northern Texas, ranks as one of the more bizarre chapters in the history of the Southwest.
It involved a disparate assortment of players: Rio Grande Hispanics, Puebloans and a few Anglos – collectively, the Comancheros – who served as middlemen and transporters for trade goods; the Southern Plains Indians, especially the Comanches and their allies, the Kiowas – all enterprising buccaneers – who stole vast livestock herds and abducted women and children for the trade; New Mexico’s opportunists – Hispanic and Anglo settlers and merchants as well as U. S. Army troopers – who comprised the major market for the Comancheros’ pilfered livestock and slaves and hostages; and ranchers and settlers – both Texan and Mexican – victims who sacrificed their livestock and, sometimes, their women and children to the trade. More...
The Gold Road To La Paz
The Bradshaw Trail - His good friend Horace Bell called him a “most polished gentleman” and a “natural lunatic.” Whichever label fit, 36-year-old William David Bradshaw knew opportunity when he saw it. He knew that Powell Weaver, a well-known scout and trapper, had found gold at a place called La Paz on January 12, 1862. He knew that Weaver’s strike lay on the Arizona side of the Colorado River, about 250 miles east of Los Angeles. He knew that the inevitable stampede of Argonauts – many of them refugees from the exhausted gold mines to the north – would need a new, more direct trail east from the Los Angeles area across the desert to reach Weaver’s strike.
Perhaps most importantly, as a former Forty-niner, Bradshaw knew that a gold-strike boomtown raised business possibilities that could be more lucrative than most of the claims. More...
Palo Verde Mountains, CA
Collecting Tube Agate at Clapp Spring - Clapp Spring is a permanent source of water set in a small oasis of fan palms and mesquite located in some low hills on the northeast flank of the Palo Verde Mountains. It lies approximately nine miles from the community of Palo Verde, California, and perhaps 10 miles west of the Colorado River, the eastern edge of the Colorado Desert. Overlooked on the south by some caves once used by Indians and set at the center of a web of converging animal trails, it is a captivating place.
Reflecting the amount of rainfall during the preceding several years, the main pool at the spring varies from a few inches to five feet in diameter and from three to nine inches deep. It is located in the heart of the oasis, at the base of a palm. More...
10 Favorite Desert Wildflowers - A friend of mine is what you might call a manic collector of desert wildflowers, rushing out after seasonal rains to tally the first signs of everything from anemones to zinnias. She reminds me of those possessed birdwatchers who'll jump into a car or onto an airplane and travel across the globe to catch a glimpse of some rare species to add another number to their life list -- except that, living in the desert outside Tucson, she doesn't need to travel far in a good year to find countless wildflower varieties to add to her roster.
You won't break any wildflower-watching records by finding the following ten desert flowers; most of them are fairly common in the Chihuahuan, Mojave and Sonoran deserts. But if you look for them, you're certain to come across many other kinds of flowers and to familiarize yourself with the processes of desert ecology that bring them into being. More...
Last Week's Top Story
Paddy Graydon's Mule Bombs - Union Captain James "Paddy" Graydon had a plan, and every soldier who had ever served with Paddy Graydon understood that things could get dangerous in a hurry whenever that Irishman had a plan. They said he was "reckless" and "arrogant." They said he was a "daredevil" and a "braggart." And they revered him.
They knew that in campaigns against Apaches, Navajos and outlaws across New Mexico, Arizona and northern Mexico, Paddy Graydon had proven himself to be "fearless" and "indefatigable." He had become known as a "terror to the enemy," a "reliable spy" who watched "with an eagle eye for a chance to strike a telling blow."
Now, every soldier at the Union post of Fort Craig, on the west bank of the Rio Grande in central New Mexico, hoped that Graydon's latest plan would work. They needed to strike a telling blow against the Confederate force ensconced on the other side of the river. Otherwise, they faced a hard fight. More...
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