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Ancestors of the pueblo Indians first settled the East Mountains about 700 A.D., visible remains of which may be seen at Tijeras Pueblo off north NM 337, just south of Interstate 40. Spanish missionaries arrived in the early 1600s, and founded missions at six locations, including Chilili, Tajique, Quarai and Abo. Spanish colonial settlers built estancias (large farm-ranch centers) between Chilili and Quarai. Drought and Apache raids forced a Spanish retreat about 1670, but settlers returned in 1763 to establish a plaza at Carnuel at the mouth of Tijeras Canyon. After a difficult start, more Spanish colonists arrived in the early 1800s, establishing farms and villages on lands north and south along what is today NM 14. A third wave of immigrants arrived in the early 1900s, as cabins were built to accommodate Anglo-Americans from Albuquerque drawn to the mountains for summer recreation and those from all over the nation drawn by the cool air believed to help in the cure of tuberculosis. After World War II, the mountains became a bedroom community for Albuquerque, as commuter homes and subdivisions took shape. Today, the area generally known as the East Mountains is home to more than 10,000 residents.

First EMHS Program of the Year Will Describe Rise, Fall of Little Beaver Town

Sunday, Feb. 11th at 2 pm | Open to the Public


Visit the parcel of land at the mouth of Tijeras Canyon that now belongs to Albuquerque's Open Space Division and one may find pieces of plaster, foundations of adobe walls and concrete slabs where buildings once stood. Known as "Little Beaver Town," the now-vacant parcel was a favorite spot for teen off-roading and parties in the 1990s.

But for a brief period in the 1960s, it was an actual western-themed park called Little Beaver Town. On its opening day in July 1961, more than 5,000 showed up to see what looked like a Wild West movie set, complete with a mercantile shop called The Rattlesnake, daily gunfights and a local saloon featuring can-can dancers.

Amateur historian Roland Penttila will describe Little Beaver Town's rise and fall during a free public talk at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11 at the little historic church in Tijeras, hosted by the East Mountain Historical Society. Weather permitting, he will lead a car caravan to the site immediately after the talk.

Penttila will describe how in early 1960, a group of retired Standard Oil executives sold stock at $3/share, obtained a lease on the land along Route 66 and partnered with Colorado artist Fred Harman to create Little Beaver Town. Harman was creator of the newspaper comic strip "Red Ryder and Little Beaver," whose popular crime-fighting characters were featured in comic books, a radio show, TV series and more than 30 movies. Penttila will also relate how the venture fell apart.

Penttila is a retired civil engineer and amateur photographer who moved from California to New Mexico in 1998 to work on the NM 44 highway project. After retirement in 2012, he became interested in Albuquerque's history. He is currently on the board of the Albuquerque Historical Society, is a volunteer who gives free walking tours of downtown and he is a docent at the Albuquerque Museum.

Penttila's talk kicks off the East Mountain Historical Society's free public talks for the new year. Refreshments will be served and the society will be selling its East Mountain history-themed products, including: 2018 "Then and Now" calendars that feature historic East Mountain photos, maps of vanishing East Mountain landmarks, Route 66 reproduction post cards, history booklets and more, proceeds from which further the non-profit society in its mission of preservation and sharing of East Mountain history. For information about the all-volunteer East Mountain Historical Society, its preservation projects and how to join, visit eastmountainhistory.org.

NEW PUBLICATIONS - see details below!

Official EMHS Tee Shirts


"Culture of the Mountains/Cultura de las Montanas" is silk screened on turquoise tee shirts. Show your support for EMHS - and look great too - while wearing this eye-catching tee! A great Christmas present for your favorite history buff. Gildan 6 oz.,100% cotton tees.
Cost $20 with FREE SHIPPING


2018 East Mountains - Then & Now - Calendar


Our new 2018 calendar features 26 pages of "Then & Now" photos, and dates of historical events which mark the history of the East Mountain area. Printed in color | 26 pages | spiral bound | softcover | individually bagged.

Cost $15, plus $5 shipping and handling

Set of Six Historical Postcards


Our latest publication is a set of six postcard reproductions of historical locations along Route 66 in the East Mountains. This set features the Canyon Trading Post, 101 Cafe & Gas Station, The Oasis Gas Station, Zuzax Trading Post, Blackie's, and Dead Man's Curve. The back side of each card shows a current photo of each setting.
Printed in color | High gloss finish | 16 point card stock
Set of 6 for $5.00 plus $1 shipping

Mapping our Vanishing Past - Historic East Mountain Communities


Map highlights historic sites in the East Mountains - from railroads, to stage coach roads, old mines, vanished towns, and even saloons. Includes towns from Carnuel to Moriarty and Golden to Chilili. Back is filled with reproductions of advertisements dating back to the 1800's.
Map Size: 24"H x 27W | Folds to 8"H x 4.5"W | Printed in color | High gloss finish

$7 each plus $2 shipping

East Mountain Historical Society Honored for Oral History Project

The East Mountain Historical Society has received the Oral History Project of 2012 award for its "Great People, Great Stories" interviews conducted 2011-12 among East Mountain residents.

The award was presented to Kris Thacher, oral history project coordinator, and Denise Tessier, EMHS president, by noted oral historian Rose Diaz of Origins and Legacies Historical Services. The honor came during a three-hour celebration June 3 honoring the 15 East Mountain-area residents who had shared their life stories through the "Great People, Great Stories" oral history pilot project. The event was held at the historic church in Tijeras and adjacent Luis Garcia Park.

During that event, visitors were overflowing out the church door as each of those interviewed received a binder from EMHS containing a recognition certificate, honorary membership in the East Mountain Historical Society, a DVD of each person's oral history interview and two copies of a full-color booklet produced by EMHS. The booklet featured two pages of photos and a summary of the lives of each of the 15 interview subjects. The participants were also featured in a slide show by EMHS.

Before the presentation, the honorees heard a short talk from Diaz, who in turn honored the East Mountain Historical Society by announcing that "Great People, Great Stories" had been named project of the year.

The project also was noted the following week by the Bernalillo County Commission, when Tessier was recognized for preserving history as a writer and lecturer, including service as president of EMHS, which is celebrating its 20th year, and for helping to launch the oral history project with Thacher.

The oral history project was made possible via a grant from the county's Neighborhood Association Outreach Grant Program, which was used to train 10 community historians, purchase recording equipment and create the binder, booklet and DVDs. The East Mountain Area Coalition of Neighborhoods agreed to act as sponsor so that EMHS could conduct the project using the grant.

The commemorative booklet "Great People, Great Stories" was created for the interview subjects and their families, and features Mike Anaya and Rita Anaya Davis of Moriarty, Juan Candelaria of Cedar Crest / San Antonito, Lois Cavasos of Stanley, Marie Herrera Dresser of Carnuel, Andy Gonzales of San Antonio, Ciria Gonzales of La Madera, Angie Gutierrez of Chilili, Jim Hanlon of Sandia Park, Eloy Jaramillo of Carnuel, Lillian Lincoln of Tijeras, Lewis McComb, from the easternmost edge of Bernalillo County, Rachel Maldonado of Juan Tomas/Yrissari, Fidel Padilla of Abo and Rita Loy Horton Simmons of Edgewood.

Oral history committee members who conducted the interviews and wrote summaries for the booklet included Thacher, Tessier, Nancy Carpenter, Anabel Sanchez, Beverly Neville, Christine Smith, Jim Hanlon, Danita Luker, and Carol Frederick. Carpenter created the slide show and some of the still photographs for the booklet, which was edited and designed by Melissa Howard and printed by Kathy Rich, all members of EMHS.

Eventually, these oral histories will be made public and archived at the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico as additions to the East Mountain Historical Society collection. First, however, they must be transcribed, and although the pilot project grant period is ended, EMHS intends to continue conducting oral histories. For more information and for photos about the June 3 event, visit our newsletters page.


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