? where you will experience the tri-cultural story of New Mexico, a history of the Indians, the Spanish, and the Anglos each altering this landscape in their efforts to obtain turquoise, lead, silver, and more.
Indians mined nearby deposits of turquoise since at least A.D. 900. Most of the turquoise uncovered at area archaeological sites as well as some discovered in Chaco Canyon probably came from the Cerrillos Hills. For almost 400 years starting in the early 1300s, the people from large pueblos such as San Marcos came to these hills for galena, a lead ore they used for the detective black glaze decorations on their pots. Cerrillos galena became the preferred glaze for potters throughout the Rio Grande Valley.
The Spanish, too, valued galena, but more for its silver content. Their first reference to the Cerrillos Hills dates from the Entrada of 1581, when two miner-soldiers claim to have discovered 11 silver veins here. Although stories were told about rich cities of gold in El Norte, and silver, the early Spaniards found no evidence in the pueblos that either of these metals were mined. The oldest well-documented mine claim in New Mexico (there were older records, but they were destroyed in the uprising of 1680) is the 1709 claim for the nearby Santa Rosa galena-silver mine.
Most of the 4,000 holes, pits, and shafts visible in the Hills today are the remains of the Mining Book of 1879-1884, when Anglos living in the western territories, speculators from the East, and recent European immigrants flocked to the Hills, digging for riches they hoped would rival the California and Colorado gold strikes.
To the people of Santa Fe County, who approved the 1998 bond that funded the purchase of these 1116 acres, thank you! The New Mexico State Abandoned Mine Land Bureau secured the deepest mine shafts, and the Santa Fe County Cerrillos Hills Historic Park opened in 2003. In 2009 this park joined the New Mexico State Park system.