Turquoise has been mined in the Cerrillos Hills for a millennium - Albuquerque Journal

Turquoise has been mined in the Cerrillos Hills for a millennium

The Turquoise Trail community of Cerrillos is going batty over bats next weekend.

“One of the things that is startling for folks to understand, of the total mammal species, bats make up one-quarter of that number,” said Peter Lipscomb, Cerrillos Hills State Park manager. “Which means, without bats, life as we know it would be very different on this planet.”

Lipscomb will be delivering a two-hour presentation on Sunday, Oct. 29, that will discuss the many benefits of bats, dispel a few myths and is accompanied by an extensive slide show. A bat skeleton and bat puppet will aid Lipscomb in his discussion.

Old mining equipment and a large bottle display are among the exhibits at the Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum.

“What they do for us: They are pollinators, they help disperse vegetation and different species of trees and other plants through their droppings,” Lipscomb said. “They’re natural pest control. ”

They also have a relationship with tequila.

“Desert flowers open at night, and since bats are the pollinators, without bats there is no agave, and that’s where tequila comes from,” Lipscomb said.

Although the Cerrillos Hills State Park is just outside the community, the talk itself will be in the park’s visitor center in Cerrillos itself. The visitor center is a good spot to check out some of the local lore and even some ore, he said.

The dusty streets of Cerrillos offer a place to stroll. (SOURCE: The Cerrillos Historical Society)

Old mining equipment and other local artifacts are on display, and it will help put the state park site into perspective, Lipscomb said.

The state park covers about 1,000 acres. Nearly five miles of trails wind through an area rife with various mines, some dating back more than 1,000 years to where Native Americans first pulled turquoise from the ground.

“You really can see how the natural history influenced cultural history,” Lipscomb said. “You have mines that date to about A.D. 900 with the Native people and turquoise, then mines from the Spanish Entrada when they were exploring things and they found galena, which is a lead-silver sulfide. Then you have the territorial mining boom. You can see how the little hills played a giant role in the settling of New Mexico.”

The Adobe Iglesia de San José is nearly 100 years old. (SOURCE: The New Mexico Department Of Tourism)

More mining equipment, as well as many other odds and ends of local history, is on display in the Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum inside the Casa Grande Trading Post.

“We have a large museum with a large open collection,” said Pat Brown, owner of the trading post and museum with her husband, Todd. “We have examples of local turquoise and a nice display of the Tiffany Mine, gold dry washers (devices for panning gold without water) and lots of antique-type tools, some stuff from coal mines and quite a display of old bottles.”

Townsend’s big-eared bats roost in Madrid. (SOURCE: Michael Roedel)

One of the big attractions is the raw turquoise that the family pulls from the ground in one of their three claims in the vicinity. This raw turquoise is then polished and used in jewelry made for sale in the trading post.

“We go out several times a year for our rough rock,” Brown said. “We come home, work it, grind it for stone setting, and we set our own jewelry. We have examples of the rough rock, polished stones and the jewelry. It is cool.”

The couple also own a petting zoo.

The Cerrillos Hills State Park visitor center offers a number of mining artifacts. (SOURCE: the New Mexico State Parks)

“We have a small barnyard with four goats, a llama, fancy chickens——they have a fabulous top, so they get a lot of attention—— and white pigeons,” Brown said.

The Cerrillos Station, a mercantile featuring a number of local artists in a fine-art gallery, recently opened in the community, which has about 100 residents.

The renovation of the 100-year-old building is a work of art in its own right as a means of connecting the building’s history with the future. The work took more than a year and includes solar-thermal-produced heat.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
A look at five public sculptures and murals around ...
Arts
The arts often play a role ... The arts often play a role in celebrating civic pride. ...
2
Artist Rik Burkard finds the experience of creation means ...
Arts
Burkard shows his work at Albuquerque's ... Burkard shows his work at Albuquerque's Sumner & Dene Gallery.
3
Pink Floyd-inspired band to bring music and light show ...
Arts
The tribute band Pink Freud will ... The tribute band Pink Freud will take the stage at Macey Center located on the campus of New Mexico Tech at 7:30 p.m. Friday, ...
4
Bougainvillea's color-changing bracts a mystery
Arts
Bougainvillea brought inside for the winter ... Bougainvillea brought inside for the winter went from pink to white
5
NM's first governor was an unusual man suited for ...
Arts
Author Sherry Robinson supplies answers to ... Author Sherry Robinson supplies answers to the question 'Who is James Calhoun?' in her new scholarly biography 'James Silas Calhoun: First Governor of New ...
6
Artist Peter Harrington brings an abstract touch to buildings ...
Arts
Harrington describes his style as 'representationalism ... Harrington describes his style as 'representationalism with an abstract sense.'
7
Exhibit looks at the Rio Grande through photography and ...
Arts
Clarke Condé's photography speaks volumes without ... Clarke Condé's photography speaks volumes without him uttering one word.Yet, th ...
8
Exhibit looks at the landscapes of New Mexico, Colorado ...
Arts
Place can connect us to something ... Place can connect us to something beyond ourselves.For Placitas artist Joan Fenicle, t ...
9
ABQ artist has helped grow the community and bring ...
Arts
Stephanie Galloway's art often has a ... Stephanie Galloway's art often has a touch of whimsy.And it's become her signature.