Four Corners archaeology offers glimpse into past

Officials encourage visitors to celebrate International Archaeology Day by exploring the cultural heritage of the Four Corners

Renee Lucero
Special to The Daily Times
Archaeologists from the Bureau of Land Management and preservationists from Salmon Ruins work in 2014 to repair the Frances
Canyon Pueblito.

FARMINGTON — Full of history, culture and easily accessible trails, the Four Corners is a prime location to celebrate International Archaeology Day on Saturday.

The Archaeological Institute of America recognizes International Archaeology Day each year on the third Saturday of October. Since 2011, the organization has encouraged people to “indulge in your Indiana Jones” by spending the day hiking, participating in guided tours and visiting archaeological sites.

Participation in International Archaeology Day has grown each year since 2011, when it was just National Archaeology Day. In recognition of the day, 39 states held events that first year. By 2013, 17 countries and 29 states were celebrating the day, according to the Archaeological Institute of America website.

Larry Baker, director of Bloomfield’s Salmon Ruins, encourages residents and visitors to use the day to delve into the history of the Four Corners.

“It’s a good time to get insights into the cultural heritage of our area, whether it be the prehistory or the history,” Baker said. “For us, in this area, we have multi-ethnic diversity surrounding us, and this is the perfect opportunity to learn about that.”

When asked for the perfect place to begin an International Archaeology Day adventure, Baker replied, “Well, Salmon Ruins of course.”

Visitors to Salmon Ruins — which is pronounced sol-mon — can visit the ruins’ museum, Heritage Park with indoor and outdoor replicas, ruins that date back to the turn of the 20th century and the Salmon homestead, which was claimed by Peter Milton Salmon and his son, George Salmon, in the 1800s.

“It’s good for people and great for families to get in touch with their roots. People come in, they hear Salmon Ruins and are amazed by everything we have. They’ve assumed for years that Salmon Ruins was an ancient fish hatchery,” Baker said.

Artifacts and exhibits are displayed at the Salmon Ruins museum. Larry Baker, director of Bloomfield’s Salmon Ruins, says the site in Bloomfield is a good place to explore on Saturday as part of International Archaeology Day.

Other sites the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau encourages residents and visitors to check out include the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area, the pueblitos of Dinétah, Crow Canyon and the Great North Road at Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

“There are so many fascinating archaeological sites to see and explore in and around Farmington. … There’s no better way to celebrate a worldwide day dedicated to archaeology as a whole than immersing oneself into these preserved cultural sites near Farmington,” said Tonya Stinson, executive director of the bureau, in a press release.

Located about 45 miles southeast of Farmington, the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area features hoodoos, cap rocks, caves and unique rock formations. It is an open access area, with no trails, whereas the De-Na-Zin has a trailhead that leads to an open access area.

The Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau encourages residents and visitors to explore sites in the Four Corners, such as the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness south of Farmington. The Bureau of Land Management area includes unique rock formations like hoodoos.

Dinétah pueblitos — defensive sites Navajo people built in the 17th and 18th centuries — allow explorers to walk through the rooms and view rock art depicting animals, humans, weapons and supernatural beings, which offer insight into the daily lives, religion and culture of the inhabitants. Pueblitos can be found at Simon Canyon Ruin, Crow Canyon, Frances Canyon Ruin, Tapacito Ruin, Split Rock Ruin, Hooded Fireplace Ruin and Largo School Ruin.

Renee Lucero is a freelance reporter for The Daily Times.

International Archaeology Day

Salmon Ruins is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Go to salmonruins.com for details.
Several pueblitos are managed by the  Bureau of Land Management. Directions can be found at blm.gov.