The Chihuahuan Desert is a desert and ecoregion designation covering parts of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. It occupies much of West Texas, parts of the middle and lower Rio Grande Valley and the lower Pecos Valley in New Mexico, a portion of southeastern Arizona, as well as the central and northern portions of the Mexican Plateau, it is bordered on the west by the extensive Sierra Madre Occidental range, along with northwestern lowlands of the Sierra Madre Oriental range. On the Mexican side, it covers a large portion of the state of Chihuahua, along with portions of Coahuila, north-eastern Durango, the extreme northern part of Zacatecas, small western portions of Nuevo León. With an area of about 362,000 km2, it is the third largest desert of the Western Hemisphere and the second largest in North America, after the Great Basin Desert. Several larger mountain ranges include the Sierra Madre, the Sierra del Carmen, the Organ Mountains, the Franklin Mountains, the Sacramento Mountains, the Chisos Mountains, the Guadalupe Mountains, the Davis Mountains.
These create "sky islands" of cooler, climates adjacent to, or within the desert, such elevated areas have both coniferous and broadleaf woodlands, including forests along drainages and favored exposures. The Sandia–Manzano Mountains, the Magdalena–San Mateo Mountains, the Gila Region border the Chihuahuan Desert at their lower elevations. There are a few urban areas within the desert: the largest is Ciudad Juárez with two million inhabitants. Las Cruces and Roswell are among the other significant cities in this ecoregion. Monterrey and Santa Fe are located near the Chihuahuan desert. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature the Chihuahuan Desert may be the most biologically diverse desert in the world as measured by species richness or endemism; the region has been badly degraded due to grazing. Many native grasses and other species have become dominated by woody native plants, including creosote bush and mesquite, due to overgrazing and other urbanization; the Mexican wolf, once abundant, remains on the endangered species list.
The desert is a rain shadow desert because the two main mountain ranges covering the desert, the Sierra Madre Occidental to the west and the Sierra Madre Oriental to the east block most moisture from the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico respectively. Climatically, the desert has a dry climate with only one rainy season in the summer and smaller amounts of precipitation in early winter. Most of the summer rains falls between late June and early October, during the North American Monsoon when moist air from the Gulf of Mexico penetrates into the region. Owing to its inland position and higher elevation than the Sonoran Desert to the west varying from 600 to 1,675 m in altitude, the desert has a milder climate in the summer and cool or cold winters with occasional frosts; the average annual temperature in the desert is 24 °C. The hottest temperatures in the desert occur in valleys. Northern areas can receive snowstorms; the mean annual precipitation for the Chihuahuan Desert is 235 mm with a range of 150–400 mm, although it receives more precipitation than other warm desert ecoregions.
Nearly two-thirds of the arid zone stations have annual totals between 275 mm. Snowfall is scant except at the higher elevation edges; the desert is young, existing for only 8000 years. Creosote bush is the dominant plant species on gravelly and occasional sandy soils in valley areas within the Chihuahuan Desert; the other species it is found with depends on factors such as the soil and degree of slope. Viscid acacia, tarbush dominate northern portions, as does broom dalea on sandy soils in western portions. Yucca and Opuntia species are abundant in foothill edges and the central third, while Arizona rainbow cactus and Mexican fire-barrel cactus inhabit portions near the US–Mexico border. Herbaceous plants, such as bush muhly, blue grama, gypsum grama, hairy grama, are dominant in desert grasslands and near the mountain edges including the Sierra Madre Occidental. Lechuguilla, honey mesquite, Opuntia macrocentra and Echinocereus pectinatus are the dominant species in western Coahuila. Ocotillo and Yucca filifera are the most common species in the southeastern part of the desert.
Candelilla, Mimosa zygophylla, Acacia glandulifera and lechuguilla are found in areas with well-draining, shallow soils. The shrubs found near the Sierra Madre Oriental are lechuguilla, Queen Victoria's agave and barreta, while the well-developed herbaceous layer includes grasses and cacti. Grasslands comprise 20% of this desert and are mosaics of shrubs and grasses, they include purple three-awn, black grama, sideoats grama. Early Spanish explorers reported encountering grasses.
National Historic Site (United States)
National Historic Site is a designation for an recognized area of national historic significance in the United States. An NHS contains a single historical feature directly associated with its subject. A related but separate designation, the National Historical Park, is an area that extends beyond single properties or buildings, its resources include a mix of historic and sometimes significant natural features; as of 2018, there are 89 NHSs. Most NHPs and NHSs are managed by the National Park Service; some federally designated sites are owned by local authorities or owned, but are authorized to request assistance from the NPS as affiliated areas. One property, Grey Towers National Historic Site, is managed by the U. S. Forest Service; as of October 15, 1966, all historic areas, including NHPs and NHSs, in the NPS are automatically listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are about 90,000 NRHP sites, the large majority of which are neither owned nor managed by the NPS. Of these, about 2,500 have been designated at the highest status as National Historic Landmark sites.
National Historic Sites are federally owned and administered properties, though some remain under private or local government ownership. There are 89 NHSs, of which 77 are official NPS units, 11 are NPS affiliated areas, 1 is managed by the US Forest Service. Derived from the Historic Sites Act of 1935, a number of NHSs were established by United States Secretaries of the Interior, but most have been authorized by acts of Congress. In 1937, the first NHS was created in Salem, Massachusetts in order to preserve and interpret the maritime history of New England and the United States. There is one International Historic Site in the US park system, a unique designation given to Saint Croix Island, Maine, on the New Brunswick border; the title, given to the site of the first permanent French settlement in America, recognizes the influence that has had on both Canada and the United States. The NPS does not distinguish among these designations in terms of their preservation or management policies. In the United States, sites are "historic", while parks are "historical".
The NPS explains that a site can be intrinsically historic, while a park is a modern legal invention. As such, a park is not itself "historic", but can be called "historical" when it contains historic resources, it is the resources. Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park was formally established in 1998 by the United States and Canada, the year of the centennial of the gold rush the park commemorates; the park comprises Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Washington and Alaska, Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site in British Columbia. It was this trail which so many prospectors took in hopes of making their fortunes in the Klondike River district of Yukon. National Historic Sites List of World Heritage Sites in North America Designation of National Park System Units
Butterfield Overland Mail
Butterfield Overland Mail was a stagecoach service in the United States operating from 1858 to 1861. It carried passengers and U. S. Mail from two eastern termini, Tennessee, St. Louis, Missouri, to San Francisco, California; the routes from each eastern terminus met at Fort Smith and continued through Indian Territory, New Mexico, Arizona and California ending in San Francisco. On March 3, 1857, Congress authorized the U. S. postmaster general, Aaron Brown, to contract for delivery of the U. S. mail from Saint Louis to San Francisco. Prior to this, U. S. Mail bound for the Far West had been delivered by the San Antonio and San Diego Mail Line since June 1857. John Butterfield was a descendant of Benjamin Butterfield, who brought his family from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638, his father, Daniel Butterfield, lived at Berne, in the Helderberg, near Albany, N. Y. where John was born. He attended schools near his boyhood home. John's early involvement with stage lines started about 1820.
"John Butterfield was borne at Berne, in the Helderberg, near Albany, November 18, 1801. In early life we find him in the employment of Thorpe & Sprague, of that city, as a driver, through the solicitation of Mr. Theodore S. Faxton came to Utica, where he for a time was employed in picking up passengers from the taverns and boats for Parker's stages. After a time he started a livery with but small accommodations… His connection to Parker & Co. continued so long as they were still in business, was succeeded by lines of his own, wherein he was a leading manager in the State until staging was superseded by railroads." After his employment with other stage lines, John decided to use this experience for running his own stage lines in Upstate New York. "Mr. Butterfield devoted his attention to lines running North and South. At the height of stage coaching he had forty lines running from Utica as headquarters to Ogdensburg and Sacketts Harbor on the North, South to the Pennsylvania line, through Chemung and Susquehanna valleys."
By 1857, when John was awarded the Overland Mail Company contract, he had had 37 years of experience working for and running stage lines. This was one of the reasons. Through the 1840s and 1850s there was a desire for better communication between the east and west coasts of the United States. There were several proposals for railroads connecting the two coasts. A more immediate realization was an overland mail route across the west. Congress authorized the Postmaster General to contract for mail service from Missouri to California to facilitate settlement in the west; the Post Office Department advertised for bids for an overland mail service on April 20, 1857. Bidders were to propose routes from the Mississippi River westward. Nine bids were made by some of the most experienced stage men. None of the express companies, such as American Express, Adams Express, or Wells Fargo & Co. Express, bid on the contract because, as of yet, they had no experience running stage lines. A suggestion by The New York Times that the express companies could do a better job than the Overland Mail Company drew a sharp rebuttal from a Washington, D.
C. newspaper. Mail Contract No. 12,578 for $600,000 per annum for a semi-weekly service was assigned to John Butterfield of Utica, New York, president for the contract, named the Overland Mail Company. This was the longest mail contract awarded in the United States, it was a stockholding company and the main stockholders, besides John Butterfield who were the directors, were William B. Dinsmore of New York City. There were four others known as sureties. All of the stockholders were connected to other businesses in Upstate New York and most lived not far from Butterfield's home in Utica, New York. Alexander Holland was Butterfield's treasurer of the Overland Mail Company. Dinsmore was vice-president of the company; the office for the company was in New York City. Why John Butterfield was chosen was stated best by Postmaster General Aaron Brown:... a route which no contractor had bid for, but one which in the judgement of A. V. Brown, of Memphis, had more advantages than any other, and, as John Butterfield & Co. had, in the opinion of Brown, greater ability and experience than anybody else to carry out a mail service, John Butterfield & Co. was selected and preferred.
The route, known as the Oxbow Route because of its long curving route through the southwest, was 600 miles longer than the Central Overland Trail, but had the advantage of being snow free. The contract with the U. S. Post Office, which went into effect on September 16, 1858, identified the route and divided it into eastern and western divisions. Franklin, Texas to be named El Paso was the dividing point and these two were subdivided into minor divisions, five in the East and four in the West; these minor divisions were numbered west to east from San Francisco, each under the direction of a superintendent. John Butterfield Sr. turned to two of his most trusted and experienced employees to put in place the Butterfield Trail. In 1858, with expedition leader Marquis L. Kenyon, John Butterfield Jr. helped to select the route and sites for the stage stations. Kenyon was a stockholder/director of the Overland Mail Company and the only stockholder, other than John Butterfield, to have significant staging experience.
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El Morro National Monument
El Morro National Monument is a U. S. national monument in Cibola County, New Mexico, United States. Located on an ancient east–west trail in the western part of the state, the monument preserves the remains of a large prehistoric pueblo atop a great sandstone promontory with a pool of water at its base, which subsequently became a landmark where many centuries of explorers and travelers left historic inscriptions that survive today. Between about 1275 to 1350 AD, up to 1,500 people of the Ancestral Puebloan culture lived in the 875-room mesa-top pueblo; the village was situated on an important prehistoric trade route. Spanish explorers visiting the area in the 16th century referred to the notable promontory as El Morro. With its oasis-like source of water, El Morro served as a stopping place for numerous travelers through the otherwise arid and desolate region, many of whom left signatures, names and stories of their treks in the walls of the sandstone cliff. While some of the inscriptions are fading, there are still many that can be seen today, with some dating to the 17th century.
The oldest historic inscription at El Morro, left by Juan de Oñate, the first Spanish governor of the colony of Santa Fe de Nuevo México, is dated April 16, 1605. Among the Anglo-American emigrants who left their names there in 1858 were several members of the Rose-Baley Party, including Leonard Rose and John Udell. Nearby petroglyphs and carvings made by the Ancestral Puebloans were inscribed centuries before Europeans arrived. In 1906, U. S. federal law prohibited further carving on the cliffs. El Morro was designated a national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt on December 8, 1906, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Today the site is managed by the National Park Service; the many inscription panels, water pool, pueblo ruins, the top of the promontory are all accessible via park trails. El Morro is one of many prehistoric sites on the Trails of the Ancients Byway, a designated New Mexico Scenic Byway; the monument was featured in the film Four Faces West. National Register of Historic Places listings in Cibola County, New Mexico List of National Monuments of the United States United States Government Printing Office.
El Morro National Monument. GPO 387-038/00173 Official National Park Service site American Southwest, a National Park Service Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Prehistoric Trackways National Monument
Prehistoric Trackways National Monument is a national monument in the Robledo Mountains of Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States, near the city of Las Cruces. The monument's Paleozoic Era fossils are on 5,255 acres of land administered by the Bureau of Land Management, it became the 100th active U. S. national monument when it was designated on March 30, 2009. The Prehistoric Trackways National Monument site includes a major deposit of Paleozoic Era fossilized footprints in fossil mega-trackways of land animals, sea creatures, insects; these are known as trace ichnofossils. There are fossilized plants and petrified wood present, as well as plenty of marine invertebrate fossils including brachiopods, cephalopods and echinoderms. Much of the fossilized material originated during the Permian Period and is around 280 million years old; some of the animals who may have left tracks in the Robledo Mountains include Dimetrodon, Eryops and multiple other pelycosaurs. There are at least 13 major trace fossils found at the monument, including Selenichnites or moon-shaped trace, Kouphichnium or light trace, Palmichnium or palm trace, Octopodichnus or eight-footed trace, Lithographus or rock writing, Tonanoxichnus or Tonganoxie trace, Augerinoichnus or Augerino trace, Undichna or wave-shaped trace, Serpentichnus or snake-like trace, Batrachichnus or frog trace, Dromopus or running foot, Dimetropus or Dimetrodon foot.
The trackways can be difficult for the general public to find, as the monument is undeveloped with few facilities yet existing to aid fossil hunters. Many of the slabs pulled out by Jerry MacDonald are housed at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, although they are not on display at this time. Guided hikes are periodically offered by BLM interpretive staff; the monument lies along the western portion of the Rio Grande rift and is within part of the Robledo Mountains. It is made up of Paleozoic sediments; the Hueco Group is early Permian strata. Most of the monument is Permian and would have been underwater or along the coast of what was once the Hueco Seaway; the tracks can be found in the red rock, called the abo red beds. The monument is situated at the northern tip of the Chihuahuan Desert; some examples of plants within the monument are ocotillo, creosote bush, prickly-pear cactus, Torrey yucca, barrel cactus, sotol and snakeweed. A few of the animals that you may see are mule deer, desert cottontail, many species of lizards, several species of birds.
On average the coolest month in the monument is January with an average high of 57 °F, the hottest month is June with an average high temperature of 94 °F, the wettest month is August with about 2.52 inches of precipitation. In situ Paleozoic Era tracks were discovered on June 1987 by Jerry Paul MacDonald. Scattered footprints had been found in the Robledos for fifty years prior to MacDonald starting his search, he used the recollections of local hikers and fossil hunters to concentrate his search. This initial site was named the "Discovery Site", it is one of the best places in the monument for visitors to see fossilized tracks. Jerry MacDonald excavated three long trackways, carrying over 2500 slabs out from the site on his back; the majority of the slabs are housed in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in the Jerry MacDonald Paleozoic Trackways Collection. Two other continuous trackways are held in the Carnegie Museum of Natural Smithsonian. Prehistoric Trackways National Monument was sponsored by Senators Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici and was part of the National Landscape Conservation System of the United States of America under the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, signed into law on March 30, 2009.
It was the first national monument established under the Barack Obama administration, the fourth established in 2009. At the time of its establishment, it was the 100th active national monument in the United States; the Bureau of Land Management is in the process of writing a resource management plan for the monument to be completed in 2012. In the meantime, there are no developed hiking or equestrian trails, only one interpretive sign. Roads are not maintained and there are no facilities. There are OHV and mountain bike trails, which are rugged and require appropriate skills and equipment. Walchia Monuran trackway Fossil trackways in the United States Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument White Sands National Monument Official Bureau of Land Management website Book in PDF. on monument 10 podcasts on the monument New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science News report on YouTube
Fort Union National Monument
Fort Union National Monument is a unit of the National Park Service of the United States, is located north of Watrous in Mora County, New Mexico. The national monument was founded on June 28, 1954; the site preserves the second of three forts constructed on the site beginning in 1851, as well as the ruins of the third. Visible is a network of ruts from the Mountain and Cimarron Branches of the old Santa Fe Trail. There is a visitor center with a film about the Santa Fe Trail; the altitude of the Visitor Center is 6760 feet. A 1.2-mile trail winds through the fort's adobe ruins. Santa Fe trader and author William Davis gave his first impression of the fort in the year 1857: Fort Union, a hundred and ten miles from Santa Fé, is situated in the pleasant valley of the Moro, it is an open post, without either stockades or breastworks of any kind, barring the officers and soldiers who are seen about, it has much more the appearance of a quiet frontier village than that of a military station. It is laid out with straight streets crossing each other at right angles.
The huts are built of pine logs, obtained from the neighboring mountains, the quarters of both officers and men wore a neat and comfortable appearance. The fort was established on the Santa Fe Trail, it was provisioned in large part by farmers and ranchers of what is now Mora County, including the town of Mora, where the grist mill established by Ceran St. Vrain in 1855 produced most of the flour used at the fort; the fort served as the headquarters of the 8th Cavalry in the early 1870s and as the headquarters of the 9th Cavalry in the late 1870s during the Apache Wars. F. Stanley wrote and published a book titled Fort Union New Mexico in 1953, giving a colorful history of this fort and individuals such as Davey Crockett. In its forty years as a frontier post, Fort Union had to defend itself in the courtroom as well as on the battlefield; when the United States Army built Fort Union in the Mora Valley in 1851, the soldiers were unaware that they had encroached on private property, part of the Mora Grant.
The following year Colonel Edwin Vose Sumner expanded the fort to an area of eight square miles by claiming the site as a military reservation. In 1868, President Andrew Johnson declared a timber reservation, encompassing the entire range of the Turkey Mountains and comprising an area of fifty-three square miles, as part of the fort; the claimants of the Mora Grant challenged the government squatters and took the case to court. By the mid-1850s, the case reached Congress. In the next two decades, the government did not give any favorable decision to the claimants, until 1876 when the Surveyor-General of New Mexico reported that Fort Union was "no doubt" located in the Mora Grant, but the army was unwilling to move to another place or to compensate the claimants because of the cost. The Secretary of War took "a prudential measure", protesting the decision of the acting commissioner of the General Land Office, he should not give it up without compensation. This stalling tactic worked. National Register of Historic Places listings in Mora County, New Mexico List of National Monuments of the United States Official website Santa Fe Trail Research Site American Southwest, a National Park Service Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary