Road trip further west! — petroglyphs, pistachios and gypsum? (Part I)

We recently went on a robust road trip (three part) out to Carrizozo and Oscura.  

Let’s now venture south and west of Oscura.  On this trip, we will checkout what the country along the Union Pacific mainline south of Oscura has to offer.  It was of course the Southern Pacific during the era of my layout set in Roswell in the early 1990s.  I loved exploring this area during the Southern Pacific era.  It is filled with mystery and beauty.  During this series, I will share only a few of the highlights that exist between Oscura and White Sands.


Overview of country we will explore.  Note black lava flow and white sands.  The top green dot represents our first stop, Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, and the lower dot represents where we will visit in part two of the series, Eagle Ranch Pistachio Groves.  Also note Roswell well to the east of this country.

Stop one is the Bureau of Land Management’s Three Rivers Petroglyph Site.  The Three Rivers Petroglyph Site is just off the Union Pacific main line about 16 miles south of Oscura and 28 miles south of Carrizozo, New Mexico.  The now Union Pacific main line (former SP) is 4 miles west of the site.  One can see and hear action on the main line from the site.  I recall seeing a few Southern Pacific freights ease across the horizon to the west during visits to the site.

It is just a fantastic site to visit.


What a beautiful and mysterious place.  Note snow-capped Sierra Blanca towering in the distance. BLM photo

From the Bureau of Land Management’s website–

The Three Rivers Petroglyph Site is one of the few locations in the Southwest set aside solely because of its rock art. It is also one of the few sites giving visitors such direct access to petroglyphs. The number and concentration of petroglyphs here make it one of the largest and most interesting petroglyphs sites in the Southwest. More than 21,000 glyphs of birds, humans, animals, fish, insects and plants, as well as numerous geometric and abstract designs are scattered over 50 acres of New Mexico’s northern Chihuahuan Desert. The petroglyphs at Three Rivers, dating back to between about 900 and 1400 AD, were created by Jornada Mogollon people who used stone tools to remove the dark patina on the exterior of the rock. A small pueblo ruin is nearby and Sierra Blanca towers above to the east.


Over 21,000 thousand images across the site.


A half-mile trail begins at the visitor shelter and links many fascinating petroglyphs. A shorter trail leads to the remains of a Mogollon village, whose inhabitants were likely responsible for the petroglyphs. It is thought the site was used about 400 years.  


It is a great site to just watch the sunset, feel the cool breezes off the snow pack off Sierra Blanca or watch an afternoon storm gather in the distance and just reflect on the continuity of human life across the millennia.

Hope you enjoyed this visit and of course please be filled with reverence if you visit in person to ensure we don’t deny our grandchildren’s children the opportunity to connect with this site just as it is today.

In Part II, we will visit a pistachio farm set in a beautiful location down in Alamogordo and an abandoned (rail-served) sawmill.  Both were mandatory stop overs whenever I was in the area.

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