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Hotel De Vargas

 

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Santa Fe, NM

You will find one of the oldest towns in America at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in north-central New Mexico. Founded in 1607, Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, is the oldest capital city in the United States.  It is about 7000 feet above sea level, and is located right where the Ponderosa and Aspen forests meet the high desert.   This location is fabulous for hiking and skiing, and the scenery magnificent.  Santa Fe is in a valley formed by the Rio Grande River, with the volcanic Jemez Mountains to the west and the Sangre de Cristos (a part of the Rocky Mountains) on the east.  

Santa Fe is known as a cultural center for the state.  The Native American culture radiates throughout the city, meandering through the many galleries, museums, shops and entertainment areas found in the plaza.  There are several outdoor sculptures found scattered around the city, especially of Saint Francis, who is known for his love of birds and animals.  

There are a great number of artists and writers living in Santa Fe and the surrounding areas, drawn there by the beauty of the rugged landscape, as well as the unique wildlife and plants native to the area.  

Santa Fe is home to the oldest public building in the United States, The Palace of the Governors, as well as the oldest community celebration, the Santa Fe Fiesta, first held in 1712 to commemorate the Spanish reconquest of New Mexico in 1692.

The city of Santa Fe tries hard to preserve the original architectural style of the region.  In 1958 a law was passed which made it mandatory that the architecture of new and rebuilt buildings, especially those in the historic districts, be build in the Spanish Territorial, or Pueblo, style. 

HISTORY

Santa Fe was founded by a small group of European settlers in 1607, thirteen years before the Mayflower Pilgrims settled the Plymouth Colony, and is the oldest European community west of the Mississippi. It was claimed for Spain by Coronado in 1609, and was the capital of the “Kingdom of New Mexico” under the leadership of conquistador Don Pedro de Peralta, New Mexico’s first governor.  Peralta named the city “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis”, otherwise known as “The Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi”. The plan for the city was laid out at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, on an ancient Pueblo Indian ruin site known as Kaupoge. 

For the next 70 years, the Spanish soldiers and Franciscan missionaries tried to convert the 100,00 Pueblo Indians of the region.  In 1680, the Pueblo Indians revolted against the 2400 Spanish colonists, killing 400 of them and driving the rest south to Mexico.  In 1692, Don Diego de Vargas reconquered the area and took over the capital city without bloodshed.  Santa Fe was Spain’s provincial seat until Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821.  The city then became the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico.  New Mexico was acquired by the United States from Mexico in 1846, during the early part of the Mexican American war.  An American army general, Stephen Watts Kearny, captured Santa Fe and raised the American flag in the Plaza.  Two years later, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed by Mexico, ceding New Mexico and California to the United States.   In 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state in the union, with Santa Fe being the capitol city. 

 

SANTA FE TODAY

Today, Santa Fe is known as the Camelot of the South West.  The city has an old world charm that captures the first time visitor immediately.  Old pueblo style homes hide behind sleepy adobe walls and hand made wooden gates, while narrow streets entwine the neighborhoods in an informal way.  In the summer, the plaza area brims with tourists who browse the shops and bookstores, eat at the authentic restaurants, and examine the extensive galleries.  The Santa Fe Opera House brims with excitement and activity from July through August, and fills the warm nights with magic under the New Mexico stars.   In the winter, one can ski in the local Santa Fe mountains, or just enjoy the enchanting spell that newly fallen snow bestows on the city, making the adobe homes look like something out of a fantasy, and giving the town an intoxicating effect that makes one want to return, and some to never leave. 

 

THE RAILROAD

In 1870 the D&RG filed corporation papers with the intent to build their tracks from Denver to Santa Fe. Various events complicated the process but they did eventually reach Santa Fe. 

In 1887 the Texas, Santa Fe and Northern Railroad Co.(TSF&N) made the first regular service run from Santa Fe to Espanola. In accordance with the Boston Treaty the D&RG was not to build south of Espanola. So the railroad established a separate company to run this section of track. Eventually the ATSF broke the treaty and the D&RG took over operation of the TSF&N. 

Several different railroads shared the space in the Santa Fe rail yard. Besides the D&RG, the ATSF had repair buildings and a Depot here. The New Mexico Central railroad also had tracks in the yard. 

 

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Santa Fe rail yard 1919

 

DEPOT

A series of Depots served the railroad(s) in Santa Fe. The first was built under the TSF&N railroad and was operated by the D&RG. It was a board and batten structure with a gabled end roof. The center of the building was two stories.

In 1908 a new Union Depot was constructed about a mile south of the first Depot on Guadalupe Trail. After building of the Union Depot, the original Depot served as an Ice House. 

The Union Depot is a brick structure with a Spanish tile roof. This was not your typical architectural style but does almost fit the overall D&RG motif. The Union Depot was jointly owned by the D&RG and the New Mexico Central railroads.

Today this old Union Depot still survives and is the site of a good New Mexican cuisine restaurant.

 

 

 

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