Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ken Burns PBS parks series #3

Well I've kept at it now for 3 posts in a row.  The third episode of the PBS series The National Parks: America's Best Idea by Ken Burns continues the national park story following the death of the early advocate of preservation John Muir.

The above picture is related to the next advocate to step up to the challenge, Stephen Mather.  Unlike John Muir, I had never heard of him.  The borax product in the above picture made him a millionaire.  He was both an industrialist and a conservationist which was a great combination to have in one person.

His influence landed him the job of creating what became the National Park Service.  He used his marketing background and own money to promote the national parks.


The next two pictures are from our visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It was a trip with minimal pre-planning.  Vacation approaches vary as much as people.  I like less structured trips that allow for some surprises, but I do like to know at least a day in advance the sleeping arrangement.

This national historical park is called Pecos.  I expected to see pueblo ruins and some nice scenery.  Well that's there, but I was completely surprised to find the Civil War was there too.

We arrived just in time to hop on a park van for the tour of this Civil War battle (tour was included in the admission price).  We had an enthusiastic tour guide that took us back to the middle of the Battle of Glorieta.  How many of you would expect to find a Civil War battle in the middle of New Mexico?

Briefly -- the Confederates had a plan to get to the gold fields of Colorado and maybe even reach California (plan big right?).  They were stopped at this place by union forces from Colorado and New Mexico.

Of course reading about it doesn't compare to walking around the place and listening to a guide describe and point out the various positions of troops and sharpshooters.

He told us an interesting story related to this battle that occurred just in the last decade or so.  He pointed to a house down the road and told us about a surprise the home owner had back in 1987.  While excavation for a house foundation he found bodies.  He called the authorities who eventually turned up a mass grave, 31 bodies!

He initially worried he discovered some mass murder's stash.  Turned out they were Confederate soldiers from the battle.  Three were identified and their descendants notified.  But the other remains started up the feud between New Mexico and Texas (another bit of history I learned) over where to bury the soldiers.  I believe it went to court.  Now you can find them in a VA cemetery in Santa Fe. 

As the national park series points out, there's always a conflict of land usage with the parks.  Here at the Battle of Glorieta site, there's a major highway going right through it.  Of course the battle was in a pass and it makes sense that later it would become a road.

Well at least they figured out where to put the bodies!

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1 comment:

Lisa said...

The ruins look awesome and almost unbelievable. It looks like a carved hll.

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