Alamos HorsesLast modified: May 24, 2016
100… An Álamos moment with some horses…
A man in the background is working on repairing a drain spout Calle Comercio. Behind the horse is the former Governor’s mansion. Why is this horse here? Because it is here. In the bigger picture the answer could be that Christopher Columbus brought the first domesticated horses on his second voyage to the new world. His expedition selected 25 horses from Andalusia including the Spanish Jennet, know for their athleticism, medium size and comfortable gait. The Spanish royal architects who laid out Centro Álamos as it is found today were also from Andalusia.
Hernandez de Cordoba in 1517 brought horses to Yucatan. Conquistador Cortez set sail with 16 horses, 500 men and 11 ships in February 1519. He landed on Mayan territory in the Yucatan peninsula and marched inland to what is now Mexico City. Today, Andalusians are bred with quarter-horses and Mexican Criolla to produce the Mexican Azteca, beautiful and durable. The horse above, living in the moment, is unaware of all of this.
The horse has found food scraps to rummage through. Food is food. While taking this photo I wondered if someone realized this horse was possibly not where this horse should be? And, would they go looking for the horse or is this a regular occurrence and the horse returns unassisted? A horse on its own in Centro Álamos is not a common sight but it should not be a surprise given Álamos, Sonora, Mexico’s old west nature.
All of Centro Álamos is a museum as illustrated by looking out Museo de Costumbrista de Sonora’s northern windows and seeing La Ciudadella, one of the oldest and best kept buildings on the Plaza. This was the town’s original Spanish fort. It is said that a Spanish soldier’s ghost is here protecting hidden treasure. This ghost is not alone. There are reports of ghost throughout Centro Álamos, purchase a home and a ghost, or ghosts, come along in the deal.
Mystery and magic are in the details seen from the street. Events are recorded in the weave and pattern of old sidewalks. Pride can be found in the well-intended performances of skilled workmen and artisans. Days of old remain with the care and respect of today’s owners and helpers. It is community mindset and municipal dictate that perpetuates past legacies.
The streets of Álamos are living history.
La Ciudadella went from a government fort to a private residence to two residences and then restored back to one 22 room mansion. In the early days this was a fortified mansion to securely store silver bars from the Aduana mines. Behind these doors Important business was conducted that had implications as far north as San Francisico. Inside the compound there were ramps to move the treasure along with a dungeon, deep well and secret emergency escape tunnels.
When I visited La Ciudadella in 1995, David and Jennifer McKay were living there. I sat down with David at a big old table from the soldier’s mess hall and had a glass of water and a brief conversation. Today La Ciudadella, 15 Cardenas, is owned and watched over by Margo and Richard Howell. During the winter and spring seasons La Ciudadella is often included on the Saturday house tour that gathers at 10 or 11 a.m. in the Plaza. The modest house tour fee benefits local charitable organizations, this is a long-standing tradition.
Counter clockwise from upper left: Independence Day celebrations feature horses, music, food and beer in the arroyos. A grandfather and grandson ride together on a quiet weekday in downtown Aduana. A summer rodeo and music concert is staged in the baseball park, nothing started on time. A young man walks his horse in front of the church.
And now for a little horse history in Mexico. In 200,000 B.C. Equus Mexicanus were common in North America. Starting around 136,000 B.C. they began to leave for Asia. Some 76,000 years ago Toba, one of the world’s four super volcanos, errupted in Sumatra and wiped out many species on earth. The human population, reduced to a thousand breeding pairs, barely survived. In recent times the onager, a wild ass, was common throughout North America. And then the Spaniards arrived. In the background are the steps leading up to the Monastery, formerly the Boor’s mansion. The pink building on the corner is now the Alamos hostel.
Counter clockwise from upper left: A couple of charros, horsemen. pass Calle 5 de Febrero as they ride eastward in Arroyo La Aduana. Horses and riders gather and celebrate Independence Day in Arroyo La Aduana. A woman and child on horseback near the cemetery along Calle de Las Delicias. Man and horse rest as the Plaza fills with summer tourists.
Dr. Martin Dale Edwards and Zora Tyler owned Rancho Las Crucecitas, a 15 minute walk from the Plaza, when these photos were taken in 1995. They had two large houses, with two caretaker families living in one, two barns and 23 corrals. Water was provided by an abundant well and a dam behind the main house which caught and stored runoff from Mt. Álamos. They had an Arabian breeding program that used the son of Fadjur as their primary stallion. We are not sure where Arabian horses came from: northern Syria, southern Turkey, northern edge of the Fertile Crescent, Iraq, across the Sinai, Egypt, southwestern Arabia… We do know that around 1500 B.C. records begin to appear talking of the impacts these powerful “hot blooded” Arabian horses were making.
These horses lived a different life than the horse on Calle Comercio that began this scene-segment-post. Life in the undisturbed country is much different than the narrow streets and homes wall to wall in downtown. These city homes do have their walled-in courts – patios where outdoor living, and privacy, is a given. But in the countryside, wide open spaces present an all encompassing freedom. Here, the sounds are of surrounding wildlife and of your own making. I believe Rancho Las Crucecitas was named for a murder that took place on the property where an old woman is buried. The herd of Arabian horses would die years later at Las Crucecitas from bad food or disease or? Something had gone terribly wrong.
Las Crucecitas’ 175 acres was purchased from Zora by Sharon Bernard and renamed Estancia Crysalis. Frank Bernard, her father, had owned a 1200 acre ranch that was three miles northwest of Álamos and might have been named Estancia Crysalis. He was a hotelman and a former Spanish Consul to Vancouver. After he sold the ranch its name was changed to Rancho El Palomar. Frank, and his second wife, Atie, then purchased Calle Comercio 8, the Bishop’s mansion in Álamos Centro. I met briefly with Frank in 1993 and he told me that I had brought a talented crew to film Álamos over the Christmas holidays. Horse spirits and ghosts are everywhere.
Sharing a Horse Laugh.
Anders, on a 1995 late Spring mid-morning, meets a horse in a vacant lot off of Calle Galiana. It was common to see a horse on the streets of Álamos, usually with a rider. Horse hair styling by Doug Reynolds. Video and editing by Anders Tomlinson. Music is an excerpt from Denver Clay’s ” Long Angel.” Produced by Anders Tomlinson and Kit Nuzum.
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