On the way back to Truchas from our road trip to Las Vegas (see previous post On the Road in New Mexico: The OTHER Las Vegas) we stopped along side the road at the site of an old mill.
There were markers posted because the area has been designated a National Historic District. It was once the ranching community of La Cueva, established in the early 1850s by Vincente Romero.
Apparently the proximity to Fort Union (see http://karlfmoffatt.blogspot.com/2010/03/fort-union-on-old-santa-fe-trail-its.html) and the Santa Fe Trail (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Fe_Trail) helped the ranch develop into one of the region’s most important commercial centers.
Of course you all know about the Santa Fe Trail, but some of you may not be as familiar with Fort Union. It was established in 1851 to protect the Santa Fe Trail and became the major military supply depot in the Southwest.
The mill was built in the 1870s after Romero established the La Cueva Ranch by purchasing land from several grantees of the Mora land grant in 1835. According to legend Romero slept in nearby caves while tending his sheep, thus the name La Cueva.
La Cueva became a major shipping center for the livestock and agricultural produce grown by the Romeros and their neighbors. And the great adobe mill ground flour for the ranch and for their neighbors from miles around.
At one time there was a blacksmith shop, harness and tack rooms, stables, and extensive pens for cattle, sheep, and goats. Existing records from the mid nineteenth century indicate that up to 60 horse and ox drawn wagons were quartered at the ranch, destined mainly for travel to Fort Union and other army forts in the Territory.
Flour was ground and electricity was generated by the mill until 1949.
In 1945 William Salman, who had lost most of his family to the death camps of the Third Reich, moved his wife and children onto a part of the Romero Ranch that he had purchased in 1942 (the original ranch had been sold off into five separate pieces after Vincente Romero’s death in 1881). By 1950 Salman had reunited the separate properties to restore the original 32,000 acre Romero Ranch.
Today the Salman Raspberry Ranch is famous for its fresh raspberries (see http://www.salmanraspberryranch.com). They have a U-Pick It Farm as well as a store and cafe (open for only about 2 months out of the year). I bought some raspberry jam in the store that was amazing!
AND we had pie at the cafe. I threw caution to the wind and tried their famous raspberry pie with ice cream and raspberry sauce and Kim chose the fresh apple pie, made that morning from apples picked outside the kitchen door. It was so good he had to have another piece (this from a true pie aficionado). As it happened, he placed the second order with the baker herself, who exclaimed with glee, “For real?” when he said he just had to have another.
Yes, indeed, for real.
In fact I recommend that any of you traveling anywhere near the Salman Raspberry Ranch pay the cafe a special visit. It is definitely worth a side trip. You know I’ll be going back soon.
Love to you all,