Thursday, May 26, 2016

"Hiking to History: A Guide to Off-Road New Mexico Historic Sites"

I heartily concur with author Robert Julyan that touring historical sites in a car can't hold a candle to actually walking the ground. Hiking to History: A Guide to Off-Road New Mexico Historic Sites (University of New Mexico Press, 2016) visits 23 places within the state's borders. According to the author, the sites are generally inaccessible by car anyway, but all are foot traffic friendly and open to the public. I added the volume to my review checklist hoping that there would be Civil War content and there is one hike (for the March 1862 Battle of Glorieta Pass) directly associated with the conflict.

The book is not a traditional guide in terms of having detailed directions, a carefully mapped out tour route, numbered stops, etc. Instead, it is more of a nature hike-o-logue [I made up that word]. Designed for both active and armchair readers, each chapter contains site background history and much of the text is informal first-person narrative describing the author's experience of walking the ground. The afterword invites readers to actively participate in the preservation of the state's historical heritage, and the final section recommends published resources.

For each chapter, general directions on how to reach the site are offered as are photographs and select GPS coordinates. There are two maps (a state-level overview and a battlefield drawing). At the end of some chapters, sidebars direct readers toward alternative sites to visit as well as suggested reading.

Julyan selected an interesting assortment of sites for the book, his choices representing all eras of New Mexico's past from pre-history up to modern times. Among them are a plane crash location, a bombing range, a Civil War battle, the site of the famous Tunstall Murder of "Billy the Kid" lore, Dog Canyon (used by local tribes as a refuge for generations), Jaramillo Creek (an important area of geological science investigation), a sacred religious site (El Cerro de Tome), a fossil dig, and much more.

CWBA reviews of UNMP titles:
* A Civil War History of the New Mexico Volunteers and Militia
* From Western Deserts to Carolina Swamps: A Civil War Soldier's Journals and Letters Home
* New Mexico Territory During the Civil War: Wallen and Evans Inspection Reports, 1862-1863
* Sibley's New Mexico Campaign (reprint)

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