Jack wrote this in November, 2005:
Had a serious case of cabin fever recently. This morning around five I went down to Albuquerque, joined friends and headed out west, almost to Arizona.
There’s a hidden spring about fifteen miles off the pavement, an adobe ruin where vigilantes from Quemado killed a horsethief in the 1880s I’d been threatening to take them all to for a long time. We tromped around hills pecking on rocks… brought home a lot more weight in quartz, worked flint, etc, than we went out there with. Found a couple of ancient ruin sites I’d missed on previous trips.
Long, tiring trip, but worth every minute of it. The fever went down about sunset as we headed back east.
Next day’s post:
I thought I’d tell you a bit more about those undocumented ruins we found yesterday, and other matters.
The horse-thief dwelling was evidently located just beside one of the outlets of the several springs coming out of cliff wall made up of ancient river bed delta/sea shore deposition. There’s cause to believe the vigilantes dug a hole and burned most of his possessions after killing him, not anticipating the erosion factor.
An arroyo now cuts through the ashes and debris exposing the remains of what he had that the vigilantes didn’t want, along with a lot of spent .45 Long Colt hulls, metal objects severely corroded because of the alkaline ash, and not a lot else unless he’s buried back in there further, which didn’t interest us enough to try to find out.
The ruin sites are a lot more interesting. That hilltop has been intermittently occupied throughout the known history of human beings in the southwest. One of the people with me found a partially finished axe head, the workmanship having all the traits of the Clovis, or Folsum-Midland period, while hundreds of potsherds scattered across the terrain ranged in age from the earliest pottery makers to late enough to put a glaze on the pots. Clovis stone work is 10,000 to 12,000 years old and marks a time when men really demonstrated some surprising skills in the rock tool making profession.
But the site also had a lot of evidence of youngsters during the times since squatting here and there chipping away, learning to make stones look like arrowheads, scrapers and other tools.
The site’s been walked over by cattle for a century or more, so everything’s fairly well destroyed on the surface. In a few years there’ll be nothing left to see there. However, sites of that sort are protected by Federal Statutes against being bothered by anything but cattle, so that part’s okay.
You don’t want to get caught doing more than walking around over those kinds of sites unless they’re on private land. The archeology religion demands they be left completely alone, except by cows and archies. But there’s no money for scholarly diggings these days, and the archies figure they’ve learned about all they’re going to about our ancients, so legal destruction of the sites are left almost entirely to hooves.
However, it was an interesting, revealing, exuberant day full of fun and the energy of discovery.