Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rancher-woman explores the neighborhood

Rancher-woman was on her way home from taking the trash to the dump yesterday and decided she needed a reward for accomplishing such an odious task. She stopped along the road to try to find some petroglyphs she had learned about from one of the area’s old timers. Rancher-woman loves petroglyphs (click here to see her private collection) and loves to explore places she has never long as it doesn’t involve leaving her ranch for more than a few hours. So this little adventure was right up her alley.

The old timer’s directions were, “hike up the steep hill by the gas pipeline, go north where you see the old fence, and they’re right there.”

Up the hill she hiked.

She could not find the fence, nor the petroglyphs. But she did find her neighbor’s house...or what was left of it.

She thinks he probably moved out around 100-120 years ago. She assumes her long-gone neighbor was a he, because no woman in her right mind would live out here in the middle of nowhere.

Her neighbor was a very hard worker and built his house from the rock and timber that he scrounged from the area.

He certainly appreciated the beauty of the land and built his house at the top of a ridge to take advantage of the 360 degree views. Or maybe he was just trying to get a better view of approaching enemies and trespassers?

As Rancher-woman explored her neighbor’s property, she came across this cave, not 100 yards downhill from the house.

A rock slide covered much of the entrance, but Rancher-woman tip-toed across the top of the debris, hoping her good snake karma would protect her (click here for that story). And here is what she found.

Much to her delight, there was not one shred of modern-day trash in this cozy little cave. Surely others had found it long before her, but they had the decency to leave it just as they had found it.

Maybe her neighbor was an outlaw...albeit an industrious one. Maybe he hid in this manmade cave when he saw the law approaching. Maybe Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid lived here! Or maybe her neighbor was a boring sheep farmer and simply carved out this room to store his food, since it was so danged far to town to buy ice.

Rancher-woman will likely never know who lived in the house on the ridge, but she’ll go back to visit every now and then just to be neighborly.

The house and the cave are as mysterious as the petroglyphs she never found - their age, their origins, their history indeterminate. All Rancher-woman does know is that the existence of these ruins in her extended back yard makes living 7 miles south of nowhere even more interesting and adventurous, and she’s in the running for luckiest girl on earth.


  1. What a great find. Too bad no one was home, I'm sure there would be plenty of interesting stories to hear about this place. Glad your snake karma was working. Maybe next time you go to visit someone will be home. Seriously, this is a very interesting place, I just love to find and explore old properties like this.

  2. Wow! I'd love to have something like that in my back yard... or even a back yard that big. I'll bet you could research some public records to find out more about the history of that house.

  3. This is so great. I love finding stuff like this. Do you suppose any of the old timers around that area know the history of this place? It would be so interesting to find out more. You are lucky for sure.

  4. Yes, girlfriend, you are one lucky RancherWoman. This is the kind of adventure that would truly excite me. You are so lucky to have such interesting places to explore and breathtaking vistas to gaze upon each and every day.

    And Ranchman John is gazing upon and coveting those beautiful red rocks (are they flagstone?), envisioning them on our future little backyard patio.

    What a wonderful day for you. Didn't Smooch come along for the adventure, too? Or does she avoid trash duty? :)

  5. Oh, I'm so envious!!

    Some of my favorite photographs from years ago when I was heavily into photography are of abandoned houses and spaces just like that.

    And now one of my favorite things to do is find isolated places where people used to live and write there. You can feel all the layers of history that precede.

    Thanks for sharing all these great spots you find in NM. I love seeing them.

  6. You all have inspired me to do more exploring. You can be sure I'll post whatever else I find.

    Twinville, a lot of the rock along the arroyo beds out here is flagstone, and I sometimes come across rock poachers. Everybody's got to make a living I guess.

    Smooch did not come with me on this adventure - it was too hot to leave her in the truck while I made a run into the hardware store. She's looking forward to cooler weather so she can ride shotgun again.

    Billie, if I had a laptop, I'd take it back to this place and blog my heart out. You are so right about feeling the layers of history.

  7. You are indeed one very lucky woman. How cool to have something like that to explore. And, petroglyphs! Even though you didn't find these, you have your own! Very cool. You live the life I always dreamed of as a child.


  8. Nice pictures and a wonderful adventure.

    Thanks for sharing.



  9. Yup, this is very cool. I love mysteries like this and thinking about all the different people who may have lived in that house...the conversations that were had beneath the, now absent, roof, the's cool to have that history around you, isn't it? And I really want to know what that cave was used for! :-)

  10. The best adventures are the ones that take us on unplanned detours. I confess I was a bit distracted by all the BLUE SKY!

    Sad that it's so remarkable to find an area that hasn't been defaced or otherwise marked by humans.

    Thanks for visiting my blog today. I don't know the legend about the donkey's back. Do tell.

  11. Will you stop it with the scenery photos already???? They are making me want to buy a ticket and come out to "Rancher Woman"!!!

    What a neat find. I suppose that you are surrounded by lots of ancient artifacts. Was there ever any mining done in your neck of the woods? We have to watch out for old mine shafts around here...especially when we are riding.

  12. Dee from Tennessee

    wow...What a great post.

    Love this....."the layers of history"....absolutely.

    My husband will have to read your blog tonight (after he's threw mowing the lawn while I sit here reading blogs!) because he will be so interested in the petroglyphs!

  13. What a treasure! I would love to just stand there and look at it and wonder of all it's history,who lived there, what they did on a daily basis, etc. I can not imagine building a house by hand, by layering rocks! Amazing! Can you thank Rancherwoman for sharing it with us? ;)

  14. Carolynn, I'll leave the donkey legend stuff over at your place by the dogwood legend.

    Melanie, the only mining that I know of around here was for gypsum. There are some enormous rectangular holes that I've come across. I seriously thought alien spacecraft had landed and sunk, because the holes were perfectly rectangular. Imagine my disappointment when another old timer told me the landowner was looking for a deep vein of gypsum with his backhoe.

  15. awesome pics...That is so beautiful out there. We don't have anything like that here.

  16. I felt like I was there with you on this one!
    How cool is that cave, I was going to ask is it natural but obviously not.

  17. wow... what a fun place to find!! i can't believe you actually WENT INSIDE the cave!! you are a brave woman!!!!