Álamos 1984

Confluences and circumstances influence who we are and where we go.

All the elderly women dressed in white with their stories have left the beach.

I first visited Álamos, Sonora, Mexico in 1984. We all have stories about how we came to discover a place that is special to ourselves. My personal Álamos story began when a UCSD art major girl friend, Lisa, asked me to accompany her to a performance art 
project dress rehearsal on a La Jolla, California beach. This was the conclusion to a year long (1983-1984) effort by 
Suzanne Lacy and Sharon Allen: Whisper, the Waves, the Wind

On site there was one local TV crew and Suzanne Lacy, white tables and a large group of women all dressed in white. Suzanne was orchestrating and protecting the unfolding events. There was also a freelancer in a collared blue t-shirt and a big video camera who quickly introduced himself as Kit Nuzum. He was filming for Channel 38, a Del Mar, CA public access station. We struck-up a quick friendship. Several months later he invited me to join him and his girlfriend in his Chevy Nova on a car ride to a town in México that he told he knew I would like. And Kit was correct. I did, and do, like Álamos, Sonora, México. Gracias amigo.

Álamos, Sonora, México the way it was on Anders’ first visit.

Álamos, Sonora, Mexico in 1984, Spring time, as seen by Anders Tomlinson via black and white film. Music is “A New Dawn” by the “Dig Brothers” under the musical direction of Denver Clay. Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson. It is warm and breezy. The sky is blue. If you stare at a cloud long enough it will disappear.

Below are several photos from the 1984 Álamos expedition. With the photos are a look at what the world was like back then in the United States and around the world.

alamos sonora mexico. 1984. photo by anders tomlinson.

Álamos is at the end of paved road.

•  The Cosby show premiers.
•  Three hundred slain as Indian Army occupies Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.
•  Indira Gandhi is assassinated.
• Toxic gas leaks from Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, killing 2,000 and injuring 150,000.

The Mercado in the Alameda is under construction.

• Geraldine Ferraro becomes the first woman Vice President running mate.
• President Reagan re-elected in landslide with 59% of vote.
•  Reagan ends U.S. role in Beirut by relieving Sixth Fleet from peacekeeping force.
• Congress cuts off aid to Nicaragua, illegal guns sales start to fund the contras.

Turning a corner: embracing the present by making music.

Here are examples of 1984 music that was in fashion: Phil Collins, Alison Moyet,
Billy Joel, Tina Turner with ” What’s Love got to do with it,” David Bowie
Wham! with ” Wake Me up Before You Go, ” Billy Ocean, UB40, Cars,
Stevie Wonder with ” I Just Called to say I love You, ” Kenny Rogers,
Bruce Springsteen, Bananarama, Duran Duran with ” The Reflex, ” Ultravox.

Centro Álamos has several one way streets for horses, bikes, trucks, and cars.

• Stonewashed jeans are introduced.
• The first megabit chip is made at Bell Labs.
• Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, US. The Soviets boycott.
• Mary Lou Retton wins two gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

Two powers, side by side, working together

• Old nude photos of Vanessa Williams, first African American Miss America, forced her
to give up her crown.
• The AIDS virus is discovered.
• On January 28, Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire during the shooting of Pepsi commercial.
• The first infomercials appear on TV due to de-regulation by the FCC.

A quiet afternoon in the Alameda.

• The first all rap radio format is introduced at LA’s KDAY.
• Run-D.M.C. are the first ever rap group to have an album certified gold.
• The term cyberspace is coined by William Gibson in his novel “Neuromancer”.
• Bob Geldof and Band Aid release “Do They Know It’s Christmas”.

Bishop Reyes Cathedral seen from the old miners’ hotel.

• In 1984 Reagan makes famous joke: “My fellow Americans, I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” He supposedly didn’t know the mic was on.
• Apple Computer releases the Macintosh personal computer. It has 128K of RAM, a 7,83MHz processor, no hard disk, and the cost is US.$2495.00.
• Calling themselves the PMRC (Parents’ Music Resource Coalition), concerned parents, including Tipper Gore, wife of then-Tennessee Senator Albert Gore, Susan Baker, wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker, Georgie Packwood, wife of Oregon Senator Robert Packwood, and Nancy Thurmond, wife of South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, construct a campaign designed to ‘educate’ parents about certain alarming new trends in rock music.

Mt. Cacharamba is seen two through windows of an adobe ruin.

• 1 gallon of gas $1.10.
• Dodge RAM 50 Truck $8,995.00.
• Chrysler New Yorker $13,045.
• Chevrolet Corvette $23,392.

Calle Comercio is a quiet street in Centro Álamos.

• Yearly Inflation Rate USA4.3 %.
• Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average is 1211.
• Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve 10.75%.
• Recession continues to be a problem in the US and 70 US Banks fail in just one year.

Here one can visit with loved ones and take in the big sky overhead.

• Leader of the Soviet Union, Andropov dies at 69; Konstantin U. Chernenko,
is named as his replacement.
• First robot related death in the US.  A worker in Jackson Michigan is accidentally
crushed by an industrial robot.
• United Kingdom agrees handover of Hong Kong to China.
• Explosions at the PEMEX petroleum storage facility in Mexico City kill about 500 people.

There is the only gas station in town.

• Desmond Tutu wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
• Bell Telephone System broken up.
• France gets first deliveries of Soviet natural gas.
• Syria frees captured U.S. Navy pilot, Lieut. Robert C. Goodman, Jr.

Alone in thoughts surrounded by family and history.

• Average Cost of U.S. new house $86,730.
• Median Price Of and U.S. Existing Home $72,400.
• Average U.S. Income per year $21,600.
• Average U.S. Monthly Rent $350.

Young entrepreneurs sell cool ice cream on a warm Spring afternoon.

• The big films of 1984 were Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,
Gremlins, Beverly Hills Cop, Terms of Endearment, The Karate Kid,
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Police Academy, Romancing the Stone,
Splash, The Terminator, Amadeus, The Killing Fields, A Passage To India.
A movie ticket on average costs $2.50.

The village of Álamos, Sonora, Mexico lives on another day.

• A Man shoots 20 dead and wounds 16 in McDonalds Restaurant in San Ysidro California
• Colonel Joe Kittinger becomes the first person to complete a solo transatlantic flight
in a helium balloon
• The first ever flight in space by humans un-tethered using jet back packs takes place
Astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart make the first untethered space walk.

There is much we can learn from the Álamos logo on a work truck’s door.

• John DeLorean is acquitted of all eight charges of possessing and distributing cocaine.
• Jeopardy! begins its syndicated version.
• U.S. performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site.
• The world-renowned, critically acclaimed Canadian entertainment company,
Cirque du Soleil is founded.

Salvation and shade can be found at Bishop Reyes Cathedral.

• Sony and Philips introduce the first commercial CD Players.
• Sony makes the first 3 1/2″ computer disk.
• Genetic fingerprinting or DNA profiling was developed and is now in wide by Forensic scientists when obtaining evidence in a crime.

Two good friends are walking from here to there arm in arm.

• Miguel de la Madrid is President of México.
• U.S. and Vatican exchange diplomats after 116-year hiatus.
• Widespread Famine in Ethiopia after political conflict with charities believing as many
as 10 million people are facing starvation.
• Planet Earth’s human population in 1984 was 4.769 billion.

Anders’ shadow was here and enjoying every moment.

Alamos, Sonora, Mexcio has made a deep impact on Anders Tomlinson. As a youth
in Southern California he would stand on the El Camino Real, the King’s Highway,
and look north and south. His imagination took over. Where would this road,
in either direction, take him?

Anders enjoys a warm summer night in the Plaza after a long day shooting.
photo-Antonio Figueroa

He would eventually travel north on El Camino Real to San Francisco, California.
Later, Kit Nuzum, who had family in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico, invited Anders to come along
for a spring time visit. The journey was magical, traveling across the
Sonoran Desert under a warm star filled sky while listening to an all-night radio
broadcast of Jethro Tull. Arriving in Alamos during predawn hours was
arriving in another land… another era… another spirit.

The lights of Alamos from the Mirador overlook. Every night is a holiday.


For more information visit About Good Morning Álamos, Sonora Mexico

Super-eight Springtime 1984 in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico

It is the spring of 1984. Anders Tomlinson and Kit Nuzum arrive in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico to begin shooting super-eight film footage with single-frame and additional short bursts and several time-lapse sequences. They used Kodachrome asa 40 film stock with a Minolta news camera.

©2017 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Atop Sierra de Álamos

Late spring as seen by high up both sides of the Álamos Valley…

Looking at Alamos, Sonora, Mexico from the north.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

It was an effort to get this shot. But it was the right season to do it.

I always looked north from Plaza de las Armas at two peaks that reminded me of camel humps. I knew they would provide a wonderful vantage point of Álamos and surroundings. Chon, my guide, and I started up a trail early on an overcast morning. Two others, possibly miners, with a supplies burdened burro, were ahead of us. High up, they took a fork in the trail to the east and we continued climbing to the west.

alamos, sonora, mexico seen from the north, mirador and plaza de las armas are clearly seen, photo by anders tomlinson . 1995.

In late spring, the summer jungle is bendable bare branches.

I was hoping the sun would break through. It didn’t. We reached the top under cool cloud cover. I would later learn this was a blessing. I began to film. We now go back in time to this moment contemplating the big picture. Timeless.

sierra de alamos, towering above alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.  1995

Sierra de Álamos towers over the village wiping sleep from its eyes.


To the immediate south of Álamos is the Sierra de Álamos mountain island. It runs east-west, perpendicular to the coast and the Sierra Madres. It has always taken me and my guides several hours to reach the top from the Plaza de las Armas.
The most comfortable time to start is the cool pre-dawn hours.

View from Gringo Point, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Good morning Alamos from Gringo Point in the Sierra de Alamos.

A week later, Chon and I spent two days and a night atop Sierra Álamos. Gringo Point is a rock outcropping that looks down directly on Álamos. Truly a bird’s eye view. Again, overcast persisted. But what can one do but do what one does?

alamos, sonora, mexico seen fro sierra de alamos in the spring of 1995.  photo by anders tomlinson.

One can almost hear a 1,000 silver mule train leaving Álamos south.

Chon created a fire in the high altitude morning chill, a bed of embers no wider than his palm with a flame no longer than his thumb, and brewed me a cup of tea. I unpacked three bags of camera equipment and began to film. We did not talk. Below, a church bell persistently called for morning mass. And we could hear the past that becomes today and will be tomorrow. I have never forgotten that civilized cup of tea.

pines forest at the top of sierra de alamos overlookiung alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.  1995.

Pine trees rustle in the wind and parrot calls echo off stone canyon walls.


Pine aromas in a dry tropical rain forest, with tea in hand, is truly a top-of-the-world experience. I felt safe with Chon guiding the way. it is always best to travel with a guide so you don’t go where someone doesn’t want you to go. Recently, life had been hard on Chon and these moments above and beyond the village were good for his spirit. And I was thankful for the opportunity to capture scenes from the highest vantage point.

Chon in the red hat behind Kit Nuzum

Chon in the red hat behind Kit Nuzum


Chon was Kit’s right-hand man during much of Pedregral’s early construction in the shade
of the giant fig tree. Chon took pride in doing a job well and enjoyed a good joke and a cold beer.

Sharing A Moment With Chon

We come and go, in the short term, like the birds and in the long term as do mountains.
This video scene celebrates Chon who worked on many projects for the Nuzums including
the strawbale casa on El Pedregal in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

Chon   portrait by Kit Nuzum, 2015.

Chon portrait by Kit Nuzum, 2015.


Another day, another smile amongst old friends in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. Time passes,
every moment history, every scene a moment. We are all part of the river of life.

Antonio Figueroa and Mountain , Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A summer return to the northern rock outcroppings.

One of 1996’s summer-photo-expedition goals was to return to the camel humped rocks. Local photographer Antonio Figueroa joined me on an effort to repeat the spring shoot. We knew summer heat and humidity would challenge us. We set off early in the morning. When we left the trail at the base of twin peaks we ran into a dense jungle of tangled vines, limbs, overgrown brush, stickers… We couldn’t get to the top. The air became hotter, oppressive, as the sun climbed into a watery sky. We had to return without our photos. Talk about disappointment, but it was what it was. And it would become worse. On the way down, Antonio ran head first into a hornet hive. If you could see Antonio’s swollen face in the photo on the trail you would realized his pain. As soon as we reached Alamos he went to the hospital for treatment. A tough day was had by all, but none tougher than Antonio’s attempt to capture the big picture. Jungle one – photographers zip.

View from Above

Mt. Alamos is some 6,500 feet above sea level. It towers 5,000 feet above the town of Álamos. It is another world, wild parrots, dry tropical forest, granite and… Up and down is a day’s effort, it is well worth it. To reach the top it is recommended to start hiking early while it is still dark and cool.
Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson. Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Álamos Yesterday – Today

now and then photos of alamos sonora mexico

This is a new section that compares scenes from 2014 to those from 1983 to 1996.
We can see that the trees have grown, the church has painted domes, and new homes can be seen in the background. New and old – past and present, together, is the story
of Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

The Alameda Gas Station Now

2014 - Looking northwest from Guadaloupe Hill. Photo: Huberto Enríquez. alamos sonora mexico.

2014 – Looking northwest from Guadaloupe Hill. Photo: Huberto Enríquez

The Alameda Gas Station Then

1995 - Looking northwest from Guadalope Hill. Photo: Anders Tomlinson. alamos sonora mexico

1995 – Looking northwest from Guadalope Hill. Photo: Anders Tomlinson.

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The Plaza Now

2014, looking west from El Mirador at Plaza, alamos sonora mexico. photo by Humberto Enríquez

2014 – looking west from El Mirador. Photo: Humberto Enríquez.

The Plaza Then

1993 Looking west from El Mirador at the church and plaza in alamos, sonora, mexico

1993 – looking west from El Mirador. Photo: Anders Tomlinson.

The shooting angles are close. But at this distance a few feet here and there will back a big difference along with the type of lens used. One goal of Good Morning Álamos, Sonora, Mexico film project is to replicate scenes that have changed from the same vantage point using the same lens, if possible. Big shout-out to Humberto Enríquez our man of the moment in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. Looking at these photos one can also see the difference between 35 mm slide and digital images. But that is another story.

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©2014 Alamos-Sonora-Mexico.com and the respective photographers, all rights reserved.

Álamos Update: 6-7-15

an old mill site just a block from Casa de los Santos, alamos, sonora, mexico.  Horses take care of the mowing.  The photo was taken from the city street with the graceful 'Marrs (Candy family) mansion' in back of the photographer.  It was restored by them in the 50's, built by an 18th century silver baron and ironically, now owned again by the owner of the huge new silver mine which produces more than 100 million annually.   They are from B.C., Canada. photo by jim swickard.  

Just another old world day in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

The sounds of countryside and village blend into a leisurely symphony
The photo is of an old mill site just a block from the Hacienda. Horses take care of the mowing. The photo was taken from the city street with the graceful ‘Marrs (Candy family) mansion’ in back of the photographer. It was restored by them in the 50’s, built by an 18th century silver baron and ironically, now owned again by the owner of the huge new silver mine which produces more than 100 million dollars in silver annually. They are from B.C., Canada. Photo, possibly, by unknown Casa de los Santos guest.

casa de los santos, alamos, sonora mexico. The largest fountain which was originally the sugar mill's 'Mill'.  It had oxen and a stone wheel to crush the sugar cane.  The operation went into bankruptcy in 1710 and we are the second owner's of record.

Listen closely and one may hear the past come alive in their imaginations.

If you are in the moment this could be the center of the universe
This is the largest fountain which was originally the sugar mill’s ‘Mill’. It had oxen and a stone wheel to crush the sugar cane. The operation went into bankruptcy in 1710 and we are the second owner’s of record. Photo by local photographer Tomas Escalante.

Mt. Cacharamba (Mayo for 'hole in the ear' due to a hole in one part of the flat topped mountain).  All of the original Spanish mines are below it and slightly to the left.  Coronado was within 10 miles of it in about 1540, however it was not found until about 150 years later. photo by Jim Swickard, Casa de los Santos, Alamos, sonora, mexico

A landmark of another era and today and tomorrow.

Miners and merchants came from around the world in search of silver
I took this photo from my T206H airplane a few years ago and it’s a view of Mt. Cacharamba (Mayo for ‘hole in the ear’ due to a hole in one part of the flat topped mountain). All of the original Spanish mines are below it and slightly to the left. Coronado was within 10 miles of it in about 1540, however it was not found until about 150 years later. It’s visible from a hill top a block from the Hacienda. Photo by Jim Swickard.

Macohayui mission,  circa 1610, outside of alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by jim swickard.

Macoyahui mission, early 1600’s, built by Mayo Indians with master mason’s guidance.

Off the beaten path
I ventured up to the Macohayui mission two weeks ago for the first time.  I have flown over it more than a dozen times.  Visiting the mission was a real treat and visiting with a man gathering firewood added to the experience.  There’s a home very near the mission which impressed me greatly and I should have taken pictures.  According to the man it dates to the missions beginning which makes the home over 400 years. It’s in good condition, considering, however won’t be for long since the owner died last year and no subsequent generation to live there.  I plan to return.

As the crow flies the mission is only about 15 miles from Álamos.  Due to its location on the west bank of the Mayo River one has to drive about 40 miles to get to it. If the river is at its lowest of the year one can get there nearly direct but there are are dozens of turns on a goat trail and it’s really necessary to make one trip from the north to know where its located. Photo by Jim Swickard

Summer 2015 Casa de los Santos Update

The hurricane is missing us by more than two hundred miles, however we are hoping for some rain. It’s the pre-monsoon season here and a little overcast today which I prefer for walking Cholula our ‘Puggle’. Election day in Mexico, with the required ‘dry’ weekend, so the village is uncannily quiet, however they will make up for it next weekend. ( The PRI party won both the gubanatorial seat and locally the same. It’s beautiful here today since we had our first monsoonal rain last night, 6-7-15.  With any luck more rain this evening. )

The Hacienda goes back into a construction mode in July with some remodeling work on the sugar mill property to create a true, and long awaited, gift shop adjacent to the Cafe Agave. A new Spa will be ready to open in the Fall and the present spa. We hope to have three totally new Master Suites for next season, plus two inner connecting Hacienda Guest Rooms for families. Our total room and suite count will be 32 for next season. We will have some exciting news this summer about some international recognition for Hacienda de los Santos… Jim Swickard

To see it as it is today visit Hacienda de los Santos Resort and Spa.

To see the Hacienda in 1993

Álamos residents share Álamos Today in words and photos.

Bishop Reyes Cathedral

Bishop Reyes’ Cathedral takes up the entire southern side of the Plaza de las Armas in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. Its three tiered belfry towers above town and touches low passing clouds. Along with multiple daily services the church is also a religious classroom. Religion speaks of yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows. It speaks of better days and better places. Religious followers are asked to endure and conceptually, eventually, benefit from their days of survival and struggle on this small planet.
Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson. Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

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©2015 Jim Swickard, Casa de los Santos and Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Álamos 1900 – 1949

This page is under construction

The 1900’s started out with revolution and assassinations.
Álamos was in the middle of it all. The railroad came in 1908 and left in 1931.

portales in Álamos, Sonora, mexico plaza.  photo by anders tomlinson

The early 1900’s would be troubled times in the Plaza.

1904
The Sud Pacifico de Mexico plans to extend its rail line south of Guaymas.

1905 – 06
The Richardson Construction Company invest in 650,000 acres south of the ¥aqui river for agricultural and irrigation development.

1905 -06
John Hays Hammond, associated with the Richardson Company and Boer war hero, is given permission from President Dias dictatorial government for developing and reopening Aduana mines in the Álamos District. He operates the Promontorio and Minas Nuevas mines. He built a smelter near Navajoa and invested heavily in mining equipment. The wealthy have reached a peak of prosperity.

1906
Worker unrest escalates with a strike at the consolidated Copper mines at Cananea.

1907
May, railroad reaches Navajoa.

1908
Railroad from Navajoa reaches Álamos.

1908
Area population estimates included Álamos 3,000 plus, Aduana 1,000 plus, Navajoa 1,000 plus, Promontorios 1,000, Minas Nuevas 1,000 and Camoa 1,000.

1908
Humboldt noted in his records that he “passed a train of over one thousand mules loaded with bars of silver from the Aduana mines on their way to the City of Mexico.”

1910
Report on the Alamos – Promonitos District mines in the Mining and Scientific Press.

1910
One of the Aduana mines reaches a depth of 1500 feet.

1911
January, Francisco Madero,leader of the Reform Movement, arrives in Álamos. Benjamin Hill is a leader in the Reform Movement. The Aduana mines shut down because of the Madero revolution. The rise in quick silvers prices, used in the reduction process, also made mining unprofitable. Álamos Perfecto Francisco A. Salido denied Madero the ability to speak in a public area. Don Miquel Urres invites Madero into his home to meet with powerful Álamos residents.

1911
Minas Nuevas mines are taken over by Amos J. Yaeger. Later, he would shut the mine down and sell mine machinery and smelter for scrap.

1911
Northern and central towns are under attack by Maderistas. Benjamin Hill captures Navajoa. He begins to move on Álamos but is ordered to stop and repair telegraph and railway lines damaged in battle.

1911
November, Madero becomes Mexico’s president.

1912
Early, Pascual Orozco, in Chihuahua turns against Madero, is former ally. Soon Orozco, and an army of 1400 soldiers, crosses into Sonora.

1912
August 21, an Orozquistas column reaches Álamos which is defended by 650 federal and national guard troops. Álamos defenders attacked the Orozquistas outside of town at La Aurora.

1912
August 22, 10 a.m., the Orozquistas retreat from La Aurora. Fighting continues through the day and the Orozquistas leave supplies and over 100 dead men on the ground. The Orozquistas had stopped earlier at Hacienda de Cedros and Rancho de la Uvalama where they had indulged in aguardiente – tequila?, which they had taken with them as they approached Álamos.

1913
President Madero is assassinated. General Victoriano Huerta becomes President. Sonora revolts against Huerta led by Alvaro Obregon, Plutarco Elias Calles, Adolfo de la Huerta and Venustiano Carranza. All four of these men, three from Sonora and Carranza from Coahuila, would become Mexican presidents. Álamos sides with Huerta. Sonora, Chihuahua and Coahuila states take up arms against Huerta.

1913
April, Benjamin Hill occupies Álamos as the Huertistas surrender. He takes money from wealthy Álamos citizens and captured Huertistas to support his troops in Sinaloa and repair damaged rail lines.
he forced the poor to take down the sandbag barricades in Álamos and return the sand to the surrounding arroyos.

1914
August, Carranza becomes head of government.

1914
General Pancho Villa, and thousands of his troops, fought against Carranza in southern Mexico. Carranza’s troops won several battles and Villa headed north into Sonora. Villa forces lived off the land and terrorized all who they came across. Mines and ranchos were abandoned.

1914
April 8, Maria de los Angeles Felix Guerrean, the famous actress, was born in Álamos. These were turbulent times for the region. Yaquis and Mayos were joining forces with Obregon and Villa’s armies. Venustiano Carranza became the third Mexican President in two years.

1914 – 15
Wars between Sonoran Governor Maytorena and his military leaders. Well armed and trained Yaquis and Mayos Indians join Obregon and Villa’s armies who sided with Maytorena.

1915
Pancho Villa is entrenched in southern Sonora.

1915
May 12, 500 Pancho Villaistas attack Álamos. Major Felix Mendoza has 30 troops and 50 citizens to defend Álamos against Villa’s troops. The five hour battle is waged in the plaza and on Loma de Guadalupe. 25% of Mendoza’s troops are dead or wounded. He orders the survivors to surrender and he himself commits suicide.

1915
April, General Angel Flores’ Expeditionary Force of Sinaloa regains Álamos in a month.

1915
September, the Constitutionalists control southern Sonora. Villa returns to Chihuahua.

1916
Indian uprisings create ghost towns in Sonora. Álamos old families remain in ancestral homes.

1916
The United States sends the American Punitive Expedition into Mexico after Pancho Villa and his troops had entered New Mexico.

1916
Yaguis and Mayos felt they had not be given benefits that had been promised them go on the rampage throughout Sonora. Farmers, ranchers, towns and villages were attacked. Baroyeca becomes a ghost town.

1920
September, Obregon becomes Mexico’s president. Recovery from wars begins. Renegade soldiers, bandits, Yaquis and Mayos continue raiding, plundering and killings.

1920 – 30’s
Sonora re-establishes schools, roads and farming.
Life in Álamos stabilizes. It is now a small mexican town forgotten by many and home to old families. Mansions, neglected by war and neglect, turn to ruins. But Álamos does not become a ghost town.

1929
Maria de los Angeles Felix Guerrean’s family lived in Álamos until they left for Guadalajara. Soon Maria Felix’s beauty would be nationally recognized.

1929
Last Yaqui uprising ends in total defeat for the Yaquis, they have lived in peace with the “Yoris” since then.

1930
One train a week from Navajoa to Álamos.

1930
Planning begins on the Mexican link of the International Highway.
Some thought the highway may follow the old El Camino Real through Álamos to El Fuerte and south. Eventually it is routed through Navajoa and south bypassing Álamos, which is to the east.

1931
Railroad from Navajoa to Álamos disbanded. Traffic to Álamos was on an old narrow dirt road

amos j. yaeger grave in minas nuevas, sonora mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson

Amos J. Yaeger grave in Minas Nuevas.

1932
Amos J. Yaeger dies at the age of 59.

1933
Álamos city has an estimated population of 1,000.

1937
500,000 hectares of public lands, “ejidos” are allotted to the Yaquis.

1940
The Álamos region had a population of 5,369 men and 4,848 women older than six years.

ruin of the house where actress maria felix was born in 1914.  alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson

Ruins, like this birhtplace of Maria Felix, are bought and sold.

1948
William Levant Alcorn, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer, arrives in Álamos and bought the Almada mansion on Plaza de Armas and restored it as the Hotel Los Portales. Alcorn helped publicize Álamos and had a successful real estate business buying and selling ruins and property.

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♦ Other Álamos, Sonora Mexico timelines:

1500 – 1599 timeline

1600 – 1699 timeline

1800 – 1849 timeline

1850 – 1899 timeline

1900 – 1949 timeline

Geologic timeline

History videos

Álamos population history

La Aduana mining 1910

Conquistadors, silver and gold

Álamos and Horses

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©2015 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Álamos History Directory

alamos, sonora, mexico seen from atop sierra de alamos.  spring 1996.  photo by anders tomlinson

Álamos and surroundings seen from the Sierra de Álamos, spring 1996.

Take a Walk Back in Time
Álamos, Sonora, Mexico was a stepping stone along the El Camino Real. Álamos played a significant role in the settling of the southwest, including San Francisco, Monterey, Los Angeles, southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

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Here are pages related to Álamos events and occurrences through history:

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1500 – 1599 timeline

1600 – 1699 timeline

1700 – 1799 timeline

1800 – 1849 timeline

1850 – 1899 timeline

Geologic timeline

History videos

Álamos population history

Sonora Population history

La Aduana mining 1910

Conquistadors, silver and gold

Álamos and Horses

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This is a work in progress.

An introduction to a Short History of Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.
“Here is something Special”, Spanish explorer Vasquez de Coronado noted in 1540 as he headed north, passing by tall white rocks on Alamos de Sierra. This is the opening chapter to “A Short History of Alamos” written, filmed and edited by Anders Tomlinson. Narrated by Bruce Miles. Soundtrack by SonicAtomics and Estudiantina de Alamos.

Alamos shares a strong maternal bond, steeped in history, with all the Southwest.
Juan Batista de Anza arrived and departed from Alamos in the spring of 1775 with silver, and local families, to settle “Monterey and the Californias”, including San francisco. Another expedition, five years later, left Alamos to settle Los Angeles.

The conclusion to a Short History of Alamos, Sonora, Mexico embraces the Sierra Madre.
Here, Bishop Reyes’ Cathedral in the Plaza, a three-tiered belfry, shines gold in morning light. Here, looking east, one’s imagination is stirred by the forbidding beauty of the Sierra Madre Occidentals. Together, they shape the Alamos experience.

To see more Alamos Journal pages.

To return Home

©2014 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Álamos Palacio

06… Friends, and morning sun, converge outside the Palacio Municipal…

The Federal, State and Municipal government offices are all here.

This busy building has a large open courtyard and stage that are used for public political
and cultural events. Theater presentations, dances and concerts are common.
The Palacio was built of brick and stone around 1899 in the style of medieval Spanish
fortresses. A semicircular arch is a central axis gateway opening into a large
courtyard surrounded by offices on three sides.

The opposition party leader walks to his seat on stage during the State of the City address.

Dr. M. Alfonso Valenzuela Salido addresses a half full Palacio with what his administration
has done, is doing and plans to do. Meanwhile, around town people go about their business
making Álamos what Álamos is. Here is a list of Presidentes from 1937 to the present:

2012-2015… Ing. José Benjamín Anaya Rosas
2009-2012… Dr. Joaquín Navarro Quijada
2006-2009… Lic. Ruth Acuña Rascón
2003-2006… Ing. David Corral Valenzuela
2000-2003… Prof. José de Jesús Carballo Mendívil
1997-2000…
Dr. Humberto Arana Murillo
1994-1997… Dr. Alfonso Valenzuela Salido
1991-1994… Dr. Baldomero Corral Valenzuela
1988-1991… Prof. Enrique Ibarra Álvarez 
1985-1988… Sr. Manuel Ruiz Arzaga
1982-1985… Sr. Humberto Franco Terán
1979-1982… Prof. Darío Villarreal Valenzuela
1976-1979… Prof. José Jesús Gil Vega
1973-1976… Sr. José Reyes Amarillas
1970-1973… Sr. Rosendo Venegas Reyes
1967-1970… Sr. Baldomero Corral Álvarez
1964-1967… Sr. Diódoro Valenzuela Piña
1961-1964… Sr. Lauro Franco Franco
1958-1961… Sr. Marcelino Valenzuela Bustillos
1955-1958… Sr. Maximiliano Couvillier Atondo
1952-1955… Sr. Raymundo M. Robles
1949-1952… Sr. Martín B. Salido
1946-1949… Sr. Marcelino Valenzuela
1943-1946… Sr. Juan de Dios Urrea
1941-1943… Sr. Leopoldo Acosta
1939-1941… Sr. Carlos G. García
1937-1939… Sr. José María Palomares

president addresses public in the palacio, alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

El Presidente presents his state of Álamos speech.

Dr. Joaquin Navarro Quijada is the man walking across the stage. He lost a bitterly contested election in 1994 with Dr. M. Alfonso Valenzuela Salido. The Palacio was shut down for weeks by protesters. Eventually, Joaquin was given his own office in the Palacio and municipal life went on as normal. In 2009 he was elected Presidente Muncipal. Perseverance is a virtue.
To see more of what the local government is doing visit Municipio de Alamos, Sonora

palacio municipal of alamos, sonora, mexico is decked out in bunting celebrating independance day.  photo by anders tomlinson.

Patriotic bunting adorns the Palacio for Independence day celebrations.

September 16 is Mexico’s Day of Independence. Government officials will speak from the Palacio’s balcony at night as fireworks go off around town in celebration. The long day begins with a parade through Centro Álamos that ends with a large public gathering in the Plaza. The bunting’s green symbolizes Independence, the white symbolizes religion and the red symbolizes union.
To see more visit Day of Independence Parade

A Magical moment in a Magical Pueblo.  Photo:Joel Gasteum

A magical moment in a Pueblo Magical. photo-Joel Gastélum

The photo above is from the closing ceremony at the Palacio.  The theme of the festival was “100 years of Maria Felix” and Miguel Castillo is singing “Maria Bonita” with Maria Felix’s eyes projected onto the screen behind him.  After he finished singing we played the movie “Yerba Mala” which was filmed in Alamos two years ago.  There were 700 seats filled in the Palacio for the closing ceremony.

palacio, alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson

Keeping the Palacio clean is a job for many.

People come and go throughout the day conducting business and dealing with all issues a local government faces. And the Palacio is a community center for events throughout the year. This is the official Álamos heartbeat that is kept alive by all people that are Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

The prime venue for the Álamos Film Festival is the Palacio.

In the hearts of many, Alamos is the center of the universe.
Independence day starts early in the morning with a municipal parade through the town’s colonial center. Alamos school kids, the first high school in the Californias started here, and the entire city government take part. In 2010 the students added their own uniformed marching band to the parade. From children to government, Alamos continues.

Alamos shares a strong maternal bond, steeped in history, with all the Southwest.
Juan Batista de Anza departed Alamos in September 1775 with silver, and local families, to settle “Monterey and the Californias”, including San francisco, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles.

To see more Alamos Journal pages.

To return Home.

©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Álamos 1850 – 1899

The 1800’s were turbulent time for Mexico, Sonora and Álamos.
The faded heydays of Álamos silver and trading wealth were in the past.
Confrontation was at the forefront along the northern frontier.

Governor's mansion on Calle Comercio. alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson

Time marches on as haciendas’ portals and the Cathedral’s belfry stand tall.

1850
Hermosilo connected to the port of Guaymas.

1850’s
Military colonies and settlements are encouraged on the northern border to help stop marauding Apaches. Free border land was offered to Mexicans and anyone else except for Americans and Indians. These plans were not successful. The government also was offering a bounty for Apache scalps.

1850 – 1880
Population estimates of 5,000.

1853
December – “Tratado (Treaty) de Mesilla”, the Gadsen purchase was signed between Mexico and the United States. Sonora was paid ten million dollars for land including having its northern boundary cut back to its present border. This allowed the United States to build a southern transcontinental route.

1854
The Gadsen purchase is ratified by Mexico and The United States.

1854
Charles D. Poston, was shipwrecked in the Gulf of california and visited Álamos. He would become known as the “Father of Arizona.” He recalled his visit in an account told to J. Ross Browne: “In about a week from the time of leaving the seacoast we reached the old city of Alamos, famous in Spanish times for its wealth and commercial enterprise. The cathedral is very fine, and yet bears the Royal Arms of Spain over the grand entrance. The merchants of Alamos used to import directly from China, and had a large trade with the smaller towns of Sinola and Sonora, but its principal source of wealth was the rich silver mines in the spur of the Sierra Madre, which were worked with great profit when cheap labor could be obtained from the native Indians under the system of peonage adopted and endorsed by the Spanish government.”
Álamos seemed like ” a quiet old town” to Mr. Poston.

1855
The Centralist’s reign came to an end with the fall of dictator Santa Anna. “Church against State” remains a political contention in Álamos.

1855
The school Seminario Angol-Español changed it name to Liceo de Sonora.

1855 – 1861
“The War of Reform” was a civil war against the “Ley (Law) Juarez” and other reform laws initiated by Benito Juarez and supported by Liberals, reform party members, that took land and power away from the church. The reforms were opposed by the Conservatives – church party members. War took place in across Sonora and into Sinaloa, Álamos was in the middle of many events.
The Conservatives were led by Don Jesus Gandara. The Liberals were led by general Ignacio Pesqueira and were attempting to uphold the new federal laws.

1857
August – General Pesqueria becomes Sonora’s Governor.

1857
Late in the year Gandara led an southern attack along with the Yaquis that was met by troops from Álamos. Gandara was defeated and retreated to the Yaqui river. From here he continued attacks in the north.

1858
Pesqueria stops in Álamos on his way south to help the Liberals in Sinola. Pesqueria gives Álamos special authority in case of emergencies. He also recruits men in Álamos and El Fuerte to join his cause.

1859
Apaches from the north reached the Álamos district. Haciendas and villages are left in ruin.

1859
Álamos mayor, Manuel Salazar, bargains a peace treaty with the Indians and there is an ensuing calm for a short period.

1860
Álamos floods.

1861
Professor Gregorio Almada leaves Liceo de Sonora for Mazatlan and the school is closed.

1861
August – Conservatives under the command of Don Antonio Esteves advance from El Fuerte on the El Camino Real and defeat National Guard troops and armed citizens from Álamos some of whom join the Conservatives. The conservatives march untested in a welcoming Álamos. Don Toribio Almada, the 21 year old son of Don Jose Maria joins up with Don Antonio Esteves, becomes second-in-command, and vow to defeat Ignacio Pesqueira.

1861
October 15 – Pesquiera defeats Esteves / Alamda in Hermosilo.
Pesquierq and General Placido Vega punish Álamos citizens supporting the Conservatives. Vincente Almada, a son of Don Jose Maria was put to death. Toribio Almada escapes to Chihuahua.

1861
Álamos is retaken by Liberal General Plácido Vega.
Governor Pesquiera returns to meet with Vega in Álamos. Pesquiera feel many Álamos citizens were major supporters of the Conservatives and he takes their property as punishment. He has a captured Toribio Almada returned to Álamos to be executed in the cemetery by firing squad.

1861 – 1862
December – January – French troops land on the coast of Vera Cruz. Mexico taxes the country to raise money to fight the French. Most of mexico was against the French invaders but some Conservatives became French allies. Governor Pesquiera prepares to defend Sonora from the French by building his National Guard. he also had to fight the Apaches who were now stronger because American troops in the southwest were now involved with the American Civil War.

1862
May – A club is formed in Álamos to raise money for the federalists to defeat the French. At the same time there are those with 1mperialistic leanings in support of the French. news from the south was of interest to all of Álamos.

1863
Apaches reach the edge of Álamos and kill people and ruin property.

1863
June – Mexico City falls to the French.

1864
Maximilian is made Emperor of Mexico.

1864
Another mint opens in Alamos which produced silver and gold coins and closed in 1895. (Note, a later statement contradicts the 1864 date and uses 1861.  1861 probably is correct since there was a failure of Alamos to report to Mexico City during the days of Maximillian by most of the mints in Mexico. (Information from ‘The Mexican Mints of Alamos and Hermosillo’, by A.F.’Pradeau, 1934)

1865
Early – French troops land in Guaymas.

1865
August 28 – French troops from Guaymas take over the plaza in Álamos. Colonel Jose Tranquilino Almada was put in command and had an additional 1500 Yaquis and Mayos join his forces. Álamos saw an increase in wealth as several mines were operating again and there was a business boom. But this would not last for long. During the French reign Sonora was divided
into three Imperial Departments with capitals in Altar, Urea and Álamos.

1865
September 22 – General Antonio Rosales, with less than 500 troops, leaves El Fuerte to recapture Álamos from the French Imperialists. Rosales forces met Colonel Almada’s larger forces
in a three hour battle on Guadalupe Hill. Rosales and many of his men, possibly a third, were killed. Rosales was buried in the Álamos cemetery. His body was later moved to Mexico City.

1865
Emperor Maximilian declares Álamos capital of the department of Álamos.

1866
January 7 – Álamos is attacked by General Angel Martinez. Colonel Jose Maria Tranquilino Almada leads the Imperialist and retreats to the plaza where he is defeated and escapes to the mayo River. Second-in-command Antonio Anselmo Alamda is one of many Imperialists to die in the battle. General Angel Martinez, a ruthless veteran of wars, plunders all the precious metals in the church and wreaks havoc on the town taking what he wanted and leaving little behind except for strong troops to hold the town.

1866
Don Jose Maria Almada dies. He was married twice and had at least 31 children.

1866
May 31 – Colonel Almada attacks Colonel Adolfo Palecio troops in Minas Nueva. Colonel Almada is defeated.

1866
August 28 – After holding Álamos for a couple of weeks Colonel Almada is forced to abandon city by Colonel Adolfo Palecio.

1866
September 14 -15 – The French garrison on Guaymas is abandoned after several defeats in central Sonora. Governor Ignacio Pesqueira, low on money, Indians and enemies on the attack and floods, now had to attempt to unify Sonora.

1866
September – Sonora returns to the republic of Mexico.

1867
February – French troops leave Mexico.

1867
June – Emperor Maximilian is executed.

1867
July – Mexico is again independent. President Juarez returns to mass celebrations in Mexico City.

1869
October – 50 people died and over 100 homes in the Alameda section were destroyed by floods at daybreak. All of southern Sonora were effected by the Yaqui, Mayo and El Fuerte rivers overflowing their banks. (There are other accounts that indicate the flood was in 1868.)

1870’s – 1880’s
Yaqui Cajeme, ( Jose Maria Leyva), leads Indian raids and highway robberies.

1871
“Plan de la Noria” proclaimers occupy Álamos. They were opposed to President Juarez and favored Porfirio Diaz. They collected $45,000 peso and recruited troops to join them as they headed north. They would lose.

1872
Early – Governor Pesqueira’s troops visit Álamos enroute to Sinoloa. As most advancing forces did, whether headed north or south, Pesqueira demanded, and received money to fund his campaign, in this case he withheld funds intended for Álamos.

1872
Ignacio Pesqueira is reelected Governor of Sonora. álamos, which for the most part did not like Ignacio Pesqueira stage civil unrest – “the Plan of the Promontorios”.

1872 – 1873
There are hostilities between Sonoran legislative and executive branches over the new state constitution. Álamos District has many citizens opposed to Governor Pesqueira.

1873
November – Carlos Conant, leading the “the Plan of the Promontorios”, with 400 men and opposed to Governor Pesqueira, takes over Álamos. He receives $36,000 pesos from local merchants. He creates problems for Sonora for couple of months.

1875
Álamos leads Independents in revolt against Pesqueira.

1875
Colonel Jose J. Pesqueira, nephew of Don Ignacio, was elected Governor of Sonora in a controversial election where ballots from districts that voted against Pesqueira were discarded by the legislature. Several areas of the state, along with Álamos, revolted and a civil war started.

1876
February 8 – Governor Jose Pesqueira occupies Álamos. He demands $72,000 pesos and creates harsh laws and demanded loans from wealthy citizens, loans he had no intention of repaying. Many citizens fled for safety in Sinaloa. Pesqueira jailed people who did not obey his wishes. Travel in and out of Álamos now required passports. People were upset and rebelled.

1876
March 1 – The Federal government had General Vicente Mariscal land troops in Guaymas to restore order. He arrived in Álamos to confer with Governor Jose Pesqueira in the Plaza de las Armas. Pesqueira left Álamos on March first and returns to Hermosillo.

1878
April – More controversy in the Sonora legislature: Governor Mariscal and Vice-Governor Francisco Serna are in opposition to each other. each has their own factions.

1879
February – Francisco Serna, in opposition to Mariscal, invades and controls Álamos. Serna, while in Álamos, is declared Governor by his faction in the legislature. Mariscal, deciding against more civil war in Sonora leaves Hermosillo before Serna returns.

1881
Primary education became compulsory where schools existed.

1882
Mayos are on the attack. They are joined by Yaquis. Navajo is deserted with many leaving for protection in Álamos. Navajo is now a military outpost. The National Guard arrived to fortify Navajoa.

1882
There was a major battle outside Navjoa at nearby Rancho Capetmaya. The battle was a stalement with the Indians retreating to the hills and rivers and the National Guard seeking protection in Álamos and surrounding towns.

1882
Railway connects Nogales with Guaymas. The State of Sonora is raising money to benefit public education.

1883
Álamos is preparing for Indian attacks. Álamos merchants ask that more federal troops be stationed in Navajoa for protection.

1884
13 mining firms are operating 15 mines which employ 750 workers.
Many old mines are shut down and others are in bad repair.

1885 – 1886
Cajeme leads 3,000 to 4,000 Yaquis and Mayo warriors.

1886
Telegraph is connected to Álamos. A new city jail is built on Loma de Guadalupe and the Plaza de las Armas is renovated.

1887
April – Cajeme is captured and executed.

1887
A hospital for the poor is donated to Álamos by Justina Almada de Urrea. It will continue to operate until 1946.

1888
Sonora is improving mining and agricultural districts roads. Estacion Baramotal near Guaymas is connected by stage line to Álamos and the old stage line from Álamos to El Fuerte.

1888
Vice- Governor Ramon Corral, born in the Álamos district, comes to Álamos for a monthand appoints a public education committee of 15 and provides provide state money for Álamos public education.

1895
December – Governor Ramon Corral attends the opening of the new Álamos water system. The city now has access to running water.

1897
Early May – A peace settlement between The Indians and non-Indians was negotiated and agreed to. The peace treaty signing was a festive event.

1899
The peace settlement between Indians and “Yoris”, whites, was broken by the Yaquis. Mexico’s President Diaz had federal troops push back at the Indians to allow the State of Sonora to function with more peaceful times. Yaguis villages were burned and the federal troops kept pressure on the Yaguis and drove many across the border into Arizona. less fortunate Yaguis were sent to Yucatan slave camps.

More to come…

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♦ Other Álamos, Sonora Mexico timelines:

1500 – 1599 timeline

1600 – 1699 timeline

1700 – 1799 timeline

1800 – 1849 timeline

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This is a work in progress.

If you have additional dates and events send a comment

To see more Alamos Journal pages.

To return Home.

©2014 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Álamos 1800 – 1849

The 1800’s were turbulent time for Mexico, Sonora and Álamos.
The faded heydays of Álamos silver and trading wealth were in the past.
Confrontation was at the forefront along the northern frontier.

Columns and window details, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson

End of day’s sun illuminates a classical column of another time and land.

1800
2000 silver bars serve as remittance to Mexico.
Population estimate 9,000.

1800’s
Mexican colonists becoming dissatisfied with Spaniards.

1800’s
In the early 1800’s mines in La Aduana were reaching the depth of the water table.

1803
Father Camilo Sanmartin, (San Martin?), finishes church. He is paid 40,000 pesos for his efforts. Another account states the church was finished in 1804 under the reign of Charles the Fourth.

1804
Yaquis resume plundering raids on the Spanish.
Opatas, Seris, Apaches and Pimas over the coming years would also advance in the central and northern districts as Spanish troops were moved to head off the battle of Independence.

1808
Famed German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt visits the area of Álamos and La Aduana mines.

1808
Population estimate is 7,900 inhabitants.

1810
September 15 – Miguel Hildago y Castilla gives his nighttime “Grito de Delores”, (Cry of Freedom), and the quest for Mexican independence begins. Most of the Sonora, assuming this includes Álamos, were in favor of Imperialists and Spain. During the next 11 years Sonorans, for the most part, stayed out of the war. During this time they were fighting local Indians.

1821
Heavy war tax on quicksilver, used in mining, increases from 80 – 90 to 240 pesos.

1821
9-27-1821 – General Agustin de Iturbide, Spanish rule ends and Mexico becomes an independent nation.

1821
Sinaloa and Sonora remain together in the early years of Mexican

1824
Sinaloa and Sonora are offically joined in the new constitution of Estado Interno de Occidente.

1825
Juan Banderas, (Juan Jusacamea), leads Mayo and Yaquis revolt. Indian prisoners are put to death in Álamos.

1825
population estimate of 5,000 – 7,000.

first printing press in sonora, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Civilization mature and expand with the introduction of printing presses.

1827
Indians sue for peace. The Sonoran governor agreed to forgive and forget. He had little choice fearing civil unrest and faced with diminishing funds.

1827
Álamos is declared capital of Estado del Occidente, a newly created state.

history medallion for first publication in Sonora, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Being the first in Sonora meant being the first in the Californias.

1828
Governor Jose Maria Gaxiola makes Álamos his official residence.

1828 – 1829
Don Jose Maria Almada, owner of Quinterra and Balbanera mines in La Aduana, is off-and-on Provisional Vice – Governor. he and his brothers also own many haciendas in Álamos which remains the wealthiest town north of Guadalajara.

1828
The first mint in Alamos was established by D. Leonardo Santoyo, with a concession or grant, obtained from the federal government, permitting him to coin only copper coins.  Coinage was produced only in 1828 and 1829 since the copper coins were not accepted by the people. (Information from ‘The Mexican Mints of Alamos and Hermosillo’, by A.F.’Pradeau, 1934)
 
1831
March 15 – A separation decree reconstitutes and Sonora as separate states.

1832
Álamos incorporated into Sonora. The citizens of Álamos voted in favor of joining Sonora and the Federal Congress agreed.

1832
Yaquis revolt again. Their goal is to drive the “Yori”, (whites), out.

1838
Petty civil wars involve Jose Urrea – Federalist and governor of the State: favored self government by the states.
Manual Maria Gandara – Centralist and Commandante General favored states become departments of federal government. Centralists were the church’s party of choice.

1838
General Urrea enters Álamos with 700 men and demands 50,000 pesos.

1841
Capilla De Zapopan is built on Calle Hidalgo by Don Ignacio Almada y Alvarado for Doña Juana Mallen.

1846 – 1848
Mexican – American war. It is a time of more taxes, disrupted business and Álamos men called into the army.

1847
Beisbol was introduced to Mexico in 1847 by American soldiers during the Mexican War. Americans overseeing railroad construction also encouraged Mexican workers laying track to play beisbol.

1848
Álamos is selected as one of two places to have primary and secondary education. Professor Gregorio Almada, European educated, was the founder and director. The school was first named Seminario Angol-Español.

1849
January 15 – Disastrous battle. Álamos troops pursue Apaches. Álamos, Ures, and Hermosilo are each taxed 7,000 pesos.

1849
Population estimate 4,000 – 4,300. Trade has shifted from the El Camino Real to the ocean ports.

1849 – 1851
Severe cholera outbreak. Hundreds die and hundreds leave town.

The 1800’s continue with the 1850 – 1899 timeline

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♦ Other Álamos, Sonora Mexico timelines:

1500 – 1599 timeline

1600 – 1699 timeline

1700 – 1799 timeline

1850 – 1899 timeline

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This is a work in progress.

If you have additional dates and events send a comment

To see more Alamos Journal pages.

To return Home.

©2014 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Álamos 1700 – 1799

An A stands for Alamada over a gate on Calle comercio, in alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson

An “A” for Almada over a gate on Calle Comercio.

1700
Camino Real extended out of Culíacan through foothills, northward through El Fuerte and Álamos

1709
Quinterra mine opens up in La Aduana. There is also a reference to Almada but I do not understand the connection.

1732
March 14 – Álamos is no longer part of Nueva Viscaya and is now part of the Sinaloa and Sonora province.

1735
Don Pedro Gabriel de Aragon becomes Parish Priest – reconstructed old church, La Purisma Concepcion

1736
Inventory of sacred vessels and religious objects in church is done by visiting Bishop Martin de Elizacochea Dorre Echeverria.

1736
July 1736 – Juan Bautista de Anza was born, more likely at Cuquiarachi, Sonora, Mexico, to Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and Maria Rosa Bezerra Nieto of Fronteras, Sonora, Mexico. He was their youngest son and grandson of Antonio de Anza, a pharmacist, and Lucia de Sassoeta of Hernani, Guipuzcoa, Spain. He was also the grandson of Captain Antonio Bezerra Nieto and Gregoria Gómez de Silva of Janos, Chihuahua, Mexico. His father, Juan Bautista de Anza, senior, was killed by Apaches on May 9, 1740, when he was not quite three years of age.

1737
War between Spaniards and Yaquis and Mayos

1737
Fiesta of Nuestra Senora de Balvanere in La Aduana.
This celebration begins with Indians seeing a maiden on top of a tall cactus. The Indians rolled rocks to the foot of the cactus but the maiden had disappeared. They then noticed a silver outcropping where one of the rocks had been. The Indians believed this young beautiful maiden had shown them that there was silver here. A church was built on this site and cactus grew out of a wall ten to twelve feet above the ground.

The Bishop of Nueva Vizcaya, in 1737, changed the celebration date from September 8th to November 21 so pilgrims from Álamos could use the arroyos to go to La Aduana and avoid the summer floods.

1740
Calixto Muni, Yaqu leaders burned Camoa, Baroyeca. Took Spanish women and children as captives. 6,000 strong Indians advanced on Álamos. Miners hold them off.

1741
Spanish reinforcements arrive, 3,000 Yaquis and Mayos die on the Hill of Bones

1741 – 1744
Drought

1747-1750
Devastating three year drought.  People and indians reduced to eating roots and roasted maguey plants.

( It is possible these two references to drought could be actually describing the same event. History has a way of slipping one way and another. )

1748 – 1749
King Charles III of Spain responded to the disaster by sending Inspector General of the Interior Don Jose Rodriques Gallardo reports that Álamos has no jail, Municipal buildings or squares. Orders given to layout streets, align houses and build a jail. A new Alamos street-grid was designed with houses that had adjoining walls to keep squatters out of Centro Álamos.

( There is some confusion about these dates. Did Gallardo arrive in response to the plague in Álamos or before? )

1750
Jesuit Juan Jacobo Baegert wrote “in poplar trees I’ve seen women dressed in Golden Velvet”

1750
6,000 die in Álamos from a series of plagues.
Another account states a plague of smallpox and measles which caused the death of 8,000 Indians and Mestizos

1760
Bishop of Durango, Tamaron y Romeral, visits Álamos and observes that Álamos maybe more important than Culíacan in Nueva Viscaya.
He wrote, ” It is a parish with a clergyman and vicar… there are usually five or six priests in residence as aids to the rector. In this real there are many good silver mines, and their principle workings are two leagues distant, in a place called la aduana… it has 800 families and 3400 people.”

1761
Antonio Almada y Reyes is born in Leon Spain.

1765
Don Pedro de Aragon requested in writing, from Álamos, that a presido be built near the Yaqui to hinder the Apaches, Seris and Lower Pimas who were resisting the northward bound Spaniards.

1767
End of jesuit era after sustaining missions for a span of 150 years

1767
July- Jesuits, guarded by 50 soldiers, pass through Álamos on their way to the port of Guaymas.

1769
La Alameda, today’s business district, laid out. Old houses were torn down to make room for a poplar tree lined promenade.

1769
Royal Treasury is established in Álamos. Inspector Don Jose de Galvez remained in Álamos and managed the public finances, sooth relationships with disgruntled Indians, and remodeled missions. He would later become the Marquis of Sonora.

1770
A flood wiped out much of the newly constructed Alameda

1774
January 8, 1774 – Juan Bautista de Anza leaves Tubac Presidio, south of present-day Tucson, Arizona. His expedition had 3 padres, 20 soldiers, 11 servants, 35 mules, 65 cattle, and 140 horses.

1775
January – de Anza, in Mexico City, begins to organize his expedition to to colonize San Francisco.

1775
March – de Anza begins recruiting colonizers in Culíacan, Province of Sinaloa, Mexico.

1775
April 5 – de Anza is recorded as being in Culíacan

1775
March, April, May – de Anza continued recruiting in the villages of Sinaloa and El Fuerte in the Province of Sinaloa, and Álamos, in Sonora. 30 citizens from Álamos, more than any other community, had joined the expedition, now more than 250 soldiers and colonizers.

( Here is a comment from Joan Powell )

“From my research, I see that Anza was in Alamos for some period in May 1775, but it appears that the only Alamos citizens joining the 1775 expedition are Vicente Feliz, his wife and 6 children. A couple of other sources mention 1 or two other members who may be from Alamos, but I haven’t found any Calif. mission records or Alamos baptismal records to support those claims. Alamos was important as the place Anza got funds, supplies, and had to report his accounting of costs and expenses to.

The Rivera Expedition in 1781 had a much larger Alamos contingent. I haven’t added them up, but 30 seems like about the right number.

Also, FYI, apparently he referred to himself as “Anza”, not “de Anza” ( when the Anza Nat’l park guy was here in Alamos a couple of years ago he told us this bit of info. )”

1775
May 1 – de Anza is in El Fuerte.

1775
May 13 – de Anza, Espinosa and six presidial soldiers meet up with Moraga between Álamos and Horcasitas.

1775
June 22 – de Anza in San Miguel de Horcasitas

1775
July 22 – September 13 – diary notes indicate de Anza was in San Miguel de Horcasitas, Terrenate, Cocóspera, Mission San Ignacio… During this period of time the Apaches were restless.

1775
September 29 – de Anza’s expedition leaves Horcasitas, just north of Alamos. From Pedro Font’s diary notes.

1775
October 16 – de Anza arrives in Tubac from Horcasitas in mid-and continues preparations there

1775
October 23 – de Anza’s expedition left Tubac on with some 300 people and 1000 head of livestock. There were no wagons or carts. All supplies were loaded on pack mules every morning and unloaded every night. The expedition was headed to the SF Bay Area following reports of a great river flowing into the bay.
The goal was to establish a presido, mission and San Franciso settlement.

1776
March – de Anza arrived in Monterey, California.

1776
March 28 – Mexican Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, Lt. Jose Moraga, and Franciscan priest Pedro Font arrived at the tip of San Francisco. De Anza planted a cross at what is now Fort Point. They camped at Mountain Lake and searched inland for a more hospitable area and found a site they called Laguna de los Dolores or the Friday of Sorrows since the day was Friday before Palm Sunday.

1780
Álamos is at its peak in terms of population and wealth. The mid 1700s was an era of mansions being built and furnished with the world’s finest items. Philippine galleons brought rich silver and the best of the Orient. The silver mines were exporting silver bars and the wealthy business community was importing the best Europe had to offer. During this period Father Baegert wrote, ” even during times of fasting, and when they come to us in confession… such finery among the women as I scarcely ever saw in Mexico… For with astonishment and pity I have seen many a woman dressed in velvet cloth of gold.”

1780
Pope Pius V1- looking for info. (I believe it relates to the new Bishop) Also, in 1780 Pope Pius VI verbally and quietly approved of the Jesuits’ existence.

1781
King Carlos 111 orders a new Bishopric for Sonora, Sinaloa and the Californias. This order separated these provinces from the Nueva Viscaya provinces.

1781
February – Ramoñ Laso de la Vega comes to Álamos to recruit settlers for Los Angeles. He will leave with 11 settler and 17 soldier families. Several of the soldiers were married in Álamos. Ramoñ Laso de la Vega is under the command of Fernando de Rivera y Moncado who is leading a group of 42 soldiers.

1781
Fernando de Rivera followed the de Anza trail north through Sonora to Arizona and then west towards Los Angeles. He had kept 30 some men to stay with the livestock and the rest of the men went with him. He is killed on this day, along with his men, before reaching the San Gabriel Mission.

1781
September 4 – Ramoñ Laso de la Vega arrives in Los Angeles. His party had gone from Álamos to Quaymas and then sailed to Loreto, Baja California. From there they marched up the Peninsula. The official record states that 11 families of settlers from Sinaloa and Sonora along with four soldiers and their families founded Los angeles. Other accounts record 46 people from Álamos settling Los Angeles.

1783
Franciscan Antonio de los Reyes is the new Bishop and intends to live in Arispe

1783
Antonio Almada y Reyes arrives in Álamos, His uncle, Don Antonio de los Reyes is the Bishop of Sonora.

1786
Official records indicate Don Juan Ross was paid $11,250 pesos as the first contractor on the cathedral that stands today.

history medallion in high school walkway, alamos sonora mexico, photo by anders tomlinson.

A cathedral begins construction, today it still the town’s centerpiece.

1787
What is now La Casa de los Tesoros restaurant and hotel was built by Fr. Juan Nicolas Queiros. He lived here for 60 years.

1791
Jose Maria is born to Antonio Almada y Reyes.

1794
Frey de los Reyes starts to build a new church and the first public school in Sonora.

1794
Cemetery opens

1799
Royal Treasury is established in Álamos. It is the largest producer of silver bars in all of Spain

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1600 – 1699 timeline

1800 – 1849 timeline

1850 – 1899 timeline

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Álamos 1600 – 1699

sunset and cerra cacharamba, alamos sonora mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

Cerra Cacharamba towers over a land rich with silver.

1608
Captain Diego Martinez de Hurtaide and his Spanish soldiers venture into Mayo lands. He and the Mayo agree to a military alliance against the Yaquis and any other waring Indians. The Mayos and Yaquis did not get along.

1610
Defeat of Yaqui, peace to all in Cáhita land.

1613 – 1614
Jesuits enter Mayo territory. 1614 – Padre Pedro Méndez leads a group of missionary priest into Mayo lands. It is thought that the Indians believed having the priests on their land would protect them from the diseases that were killing off the indigenous populations.

1613 – 1620
Missions are established around Álamos in southern Sonora.

1617
First Yaqui missions. The Yaqui were converted by Fathers Andrés Pérez de Ribas and Tomas Basilio. In spite of suffering from uprisings, revolts, torment and murder the conversion of Sonora was faster and more entrenched. For the seventeenth century the jesuits expanded and founded the mission of Yecora Maycoba and in the southwestern part of what were known as Chinipas.
(Father Andrés Pérez de Ribas wrote a book ” History of Our Holy Faith Amongst the Most Barbarous and Fierce Peoples of the World.”)

1621
Padre Miguel Godinez founded the missions of San Andrés of Cornicari and Asunción de Tepahui.

1678
Father Juan Ortiz Zapata with 30 Spaniards – Piedras Verde mining camp

1682 – 1821
Spanish Colonial period.

1683
La Aduana silver. Promotories “La Europa” – Almada. There was already mining in the region, Real de Minas de Nuestra Se´nora de Guadalupe, 15 miles northwest of Álamos on the Río Mayo between Conicarit and el Tabelo. Spanish troups protected the miners and the plan was for this to be the town for both the La Aduana and Conicarit mines. The reasoning was it would easier to protect one town than two. Miners would learn the La Aduana mines were richer so many moved to what would become present day Álamos and settled between the Arroyos Aduana and Escondida. These miners were fined by the Spanish givernment because they had disobeyed orders not to move to Álamos.

1684 history medallion, Escuela Paulito Verjan, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Alamos has become an official city as western colonization expands.


1684
Álamos begins to grow in size.

1685 – 1686
May 1985 to August, 1686 – Bachiller y Licenciado Pedro de Barcelon was acting curé. He would continue to serve as an assistant to the priest.
In those days a priest was responsible for both civil and religious administration.

1686
08-28-1686 – First recorded date and entry in the Parochial Register by Father Francisco de Carissa, the first Álamos parish priest, reads “Book in which are entered the Baptisms, Burials and Marriages started by me on the 28th of August, 1686.”

1686
10-22-1687 – Second recorded entry, Father Carissa writes that his headquarters have moved to Álamos of the declining population in Real Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

1687
February – Father Kino stops in Álamos for two days Alamos to raise money for new mission construction in Sonora and the Californias missions. He successfully established a chain of mission in northern Sonora and southern Arizona, no doubt with the help of Álamos silver. On his first visit he wrote, Wealthy gentlemen and merchants are building at the scene of the rush a real, or mining town, with casas reales, church and residents ranged around the plaza.”

1687
Tarahumare Indians revolt. Álamos becomes headquarters of Spanish operations against Indians.

1688
General Andrés de Rezábal with Spanish soldiers, Mayo and Zuaqui Indians end the Tarahumare uprising.

1689
General Andrés de Rezábal has a watchtower built on “Cerro de la Compana” – Bell Hill. If Álamos was threatened by Indians a bell would be rung to warn the town.

1690
Assay office established. Headquarters for long pack trains, as many as 1000 mules, hauling silver bars to Mexico city two to four times a year depending on weather.

1695
Real de Guadalupe is seat of all civil – military authority.

1695
First assayer was Spanish Juan Salvador Esquer.
( This is marginal information )

1697
Base for Military operations in the Tarahumara rebellion.

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♦ Other Álamos, Sonora Mexico timelines:

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1700 – 1799 timeline

1800 – 1849 timeline

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Álamos 1500 – 1599

pond on sierra de alamos during the summer. alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson

This was then and this is now on Sierra de Álamos.

♦ Before the Europeans

Calimaya, as it was known by the Yaquis and Mayos, was the region surrounding Alamos. The Yaquis, proud and warlike, and the Mayos, friendly and peaceful, both spoke Taracahitan language dialects. The Alamos basin was the land of the Mayo, Warihio and Basiroa. The Basiroa Indians may have had camps in La Aduana and Agua Escondida arroyos. There were as many as 115,000 indigenous people in Sonora and Sinola before the Spanish slave traders arrived. These Indigenous people, speaking one of 18 Cahita dialects, were the largest Indian group in Northern Mexico, and lived along the lower reaches of the Sinaloa, Fuerte, Mayo and Yaqui rivers. The Spanish called these agriculturalist Indians, spread out across the region in small groups, “rancheria people”.

♦ The Spanish are Coming, The Spanish are Coming

1517
Diego de Velázquez, governor of Cuba, sends two ships owned by Bizkaian Lope Ochoa de Salcedo and led by 
Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, the first European to visit Mexico, to explore the Yucatán peninsula. They sail along the Yucatán and Gulf of Mexico for six months collecting gold worth over $20,000 pesos and encounter a wide variety of cultures and lands proving it is a major land mass and not another island. Local Indians killed fifty and captured several more Spanish explorers. Córdoba’s report, on his return to Cuba, makes Governor Diego de Velásquez decide to have Hernán Cortés command a larger, stronger force back to Mexico. Cortés, like all early explores, hopes to discover a route to Asia and its immense riches in spices and other resources.

1519

February, Cortés sails from Cuba on 11 ships loaded with over 450 soldiers, 16 horses and a large number of supplies. Cortés arrives in Yucatán and takes control of the town of Tabasco. Here the Spanish learn of the Aztec empire ruled by Moctezuma II. Dismissing Velasqué orders, Cortés goes on and founds the city of Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico directly east of Mexico City. Cortés begins his famous march inward into Mexico, using the strength of his forces to form an important alliance with the Tlascalans, enemies of the Aztecs. Cortés’s also traveled with an entourage of 400, including capture Indians and a woman translator Malinche, who becomes Cortés’s mistress.

1519
November – Cortés and his men arrive at Tenochtitlán where they are welcomed as honored guests by Moctezuma and his people due to the Spaniard’s resemblance to Quetzalcoatl, a legendary light-skinned god-king whose return was prophesied in Aztec legend. Cortés takes Moctezuma hostage and controls Tenochtitlán.

1521

August 13: After a bloody series of conflicts–involving the Aztecs, the Tlascalans and other native allies of the Spaniards, and a Spanish force sent by Velásquez to contain Cortés – Cortés finally defeats the forces of Montezuma’s nephew, Cuauhtémoc (who became emperor after his uncle was killed in 1520) to complete his conquest of Tenochtitlán. His victory marks the fall of the once-mighty Aztec empire. Cortés razes the Aztec capital and builds Mexico City on its ruins; it quickly becomes the premier European center in the New World.

The above entries. 1519 to 1521,  are from A History Timeline of Mexico

1519
Mexico’s Indian population was estimated to be as high as 25 million in 1519 and as low as 4.5 million, most living in the great valley of Mexico. For more info visit Cambridge Mexico population study, and in particular Population estimate table

1520 to 1580
Fully 80 percent of the ships making voyages between Europe and the Americas are either Basque-manned and/or owned by Basque commercial interests.

1523
The Indian population in Mexico may have been reduced to 16.8 million

1529
December of 1529, Nuno Beltran de Guzman, once a lawyer, led an army of 500 Spanish and 10,000 Tlaxcalans, Aztecs and Tarascans into Sinola.

1531
March of 1531, Guzman defeated 30,000 Indians and founded what is present day Culíacan. Many that survived were captured and enslaved. Later, Guzman’s Amerindian army was wiped out by epidemics and hunger. His was a reign of terror. Spanish colonialization was approaching Alamos.

1533
Diego de Guzman, nephew of Nuño de Guzman, walks through on well-trod Indian trails. He was looking for Indian slaves. He may have been the first European to walk through present day Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. He went as far north as the Yaqui River before being stopped by hostile Yaquis.
Some accounts mention the Spanish being turned back by an elderly man in black robes who drew a line in the sand. Others talk about the vastly outnumbered Spanish turning around to avoid combat with the hostile Yaquis warriors.

1535
The Viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza, begins hearing of Guzmán’s atrocities in 1931 involving the Indians and, urged on by Franciscan Father Bartolomé de las Casas and Bishop Zumárraga, he has Guzmán arrested in 1535.
Mendoza returns Guzmán to Spain in 1536 where he dies in obscurity in 1544.

1530’s
Alavar Nuñez Cabeza de Vasa may have neen the first european to reach present day Arizona. He too probably walked through Álamos along Indian trails headed towards Culíacan

1536
Cabeza de Vaca arrives in Mexico City with news of the even Cities of Cibola and its plentiful gold and silver. Viceroy Don Antonio de Mendosa listened with great interest and decides to fund an expedition north.

1539
Franciscan priest Marcos de Niza was appointed leader of Mendoza’s expedition. Estéban the Moor, who had traveled with Cabeza de Vaca, was the guide. They left Culíacan March 7, 1539. The expedition was forced back to Culíacan with little but talk of cities of gold and silver. Estéban had been killed by Indians

1540
Vásquez de Coronado with a large military expedition left Compstela, Navarit and traveled through Sinola and Sonora. de Coronado is thought to have camped on Guadalupe Hill in Alamos. The camp site was called Real de los Frailes, Real de la Limpia Concepcion de los Alamos and Real de Guadalupe

1543
Cristóbal de Oñate makes the first mining strikes in Nueva Galacia: Silver at Espíritu Santo, Guachinango, Xocotlán and Etzatlán – and gold at Xaltepec. The strikes are small, but they encourage new settlement in the area

There are some who think members of Guzman’s expedition, slave traders or Indians, had mined silver near Álamos as early as 1543.

1544
The first book published in the New World is written by Bishop Zumárraga. Titled Doctrina Breve, it instructs the Aztecs, in their own language, about Catholicism

1548
The mexican Indian population may have been reduced cut to 6.3 million by 1548.

1564
In my notes I had a reference to Francisco Ibarra and 1564. I do not know why. As I go through my notes it may become clearer. I did research on Franciso Ibarra and found these entries in a timeline of Basques in New Spain:

1549 — At the age of 10, Francisco de Ibarra comes to the New World to join his uncle Diego de Ibarra.
1554 — Francisco de Ibarra leads his first expedition at the age of 16. At age 17, he leads the first authorized exploration north and west of Zacatecas. Between 1554 and 1574, he and Juan de Tolosa conquer the area of northern Mexico.Northern Mexico is now comprised of the present states of Durango, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sinaloa, Sonora, and some parts of Zacatecas, San Luis de Potosí and León. In the 1560’s Ibarra carries out extensive exploration, conquest and settlement of the unknown lands north of San Martín and names the area Nueva Viscaya after his homeland in the Basque Country.

1572
Jesuits arrive in New Spain.

1580
The Indian population continued to decline in 1580 with an estimated 1.9 million survivors

1583 – 1584
First settlements north of Culíacan in an attempt to bolster Spanish control of northern Sinola.

1590 -1591
Jesuit priests Gonzalo Tapia and Martin Perez establish a mission in Culíacan.

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1600 – 1699 timeline

1700 – 1799 timeline

1800 – 1849 timeline

1850 – 1899 timeline

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Aduana Mining 1910

This is taken from the Mining and Scientific Press – April 16, 1910 – page 553.
Photos of Aduana, Sonora, Mexico in 1995 by Anders Tomlinson.

Álamos – Promonitos District by T. P. Brinegar.

mine ruins in la aduana, sonora, mexico. which is seven miles west of alamos, sonora, mexico  photo by anders tomlinson

In the windy hills of Aduana mining ghosts are there to be seen and felt.

The mines which constitute this group are on the mineral zone which crosses the Alamos Mountains about seven miles west of Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. The heart of the zone lies within a rectangular surface 1.5 miles by 4 miles long, which commences at the Zambona mine, near Minas Nuevas, on the northeast, and extends southwest to include the Old Promontorio and San José mines. Precious metals were discovered in this region early in the eighteenth century, and the quantities yielded by this group alone have exceeded $100,000,000 in value. According to Camboa’s ‘Treatise on Mining” one remittance, in 1799 under charge to Alvarez, amounted to more than 1600 bars of silver. Humboldt noted in his records, 1808, that he “passed a train of over one thousand mules loaded with bars of solver from these mines on their way to the City of Mexico.” The production became so great that the Government was induced to establish a mint in Alamos for the special purpose of coining the metals produced at this point.

mine ruins in la aduana, sonora, mexico. which is seven miles west of alamos, sonora, mexico  photo by anders tomlinson

Thousands of people have lived and mined here.

The geological formation is clearly revealed. The basel rock of the region is granite which has been disturbed by powerful deep-seated forces. From these earth-disturbances originated two well defined fissure-zones. The uplift of the earth-crust on the southwest formed the Alamos mountains, and its subsidence on the northwest resulted in many irregular folds, which were covered by extensive volcanic eruptives, chiefly of an andesite type. In turn this was covered by sediments, the larger part being limestone. The conditions were favorable for erosion, which reduced the elevation several thousand feet. The fissure-zones, under present surface conditions, are about 5,000 feet apart, striking in a northeast direction. Both have granite ‘floors’ or foot-walls, and dip toward each other. Between them is a ‘core’ of andesite porphyry which forms the hanging wall of each vien-zone. This core was the was the centre of subsequent dynamaic activity, shown by the evidence of upheavals and the rearranged condition of the strata. In it are found many igneous dikes. Constant movement between the walls of the fissure-zones served to keep them open to the free circulation of mineral-bearing solutions. Cerra Cacharamba, a volcanic ‘neck’ 3700 feet above sea-level, is the landmark of the district, and Humboldt during his visit to the camp in 1908, wrote figuratively that, “Cacharamba rests on a bed of silver”. It seems that the past hundred years of mining near its base has demonstrated that the great scientist was not far amiss in his rhetoric.

mine ruins in la aduana, sonora, mexico. which is seven miles west of alamos, sonora, mexico  photo by anders tomlinson

To think here was once the world’s great silver mines .

The fissure-zones have been designated as east and west contacts. The east contact is the ‘mother-lode’ of the zone, and is generally known as the Promontoric – Quintera vein. The names of the productive mines situated on the several big ore-shoots of the vein are, Old Promontories, Quintera, Santo Domingo, and Zambona. The Púlipito on the north and the Nueva Promontorio on the south are new properties in course of development and which have mineralized veins that promise future productiveness. generally, mixed ores are extracted from mines on the east contact, which are found in the form of oxides near the surface and turn into rich sulphides in depth. Some of the ore-shoots are over 700 feet long, and in many places over 40 feet wide. Gray copper is the principal ore from this lode, and its fabulous quantities and high silver content are almost unparalleled in the annals of mining. These mines are owned by different companies, each of which has more ‘likely’ ground that it will explore in a score of years.

mine ruins in la aduana, sonora, mexico. which is seven miles west of alamos, sonora, mexico  photo by anders tomlinson

How far away could the mining smoke be seen?

The west contact is best known as the san Jose – Claraboya vein. Through the past two centuries it has remained comparatively unexplored. The mineral de Santa Rosa ( Claraboya ) is said to be the oldest in the camp, and from the large drill-holes found in the old Tajos ( open cuts ). one can give credence to the tradition that ” it was the rich mine of the early fathers.” The San Jose – Claraboya is a well defined vein of creamy to reddish – brown quartz, as shown in the workings on the lower levels of the two mines of the same names. In the upper workings or shear zone, the vein branches into seven parts, all of which unite in depth forming a large body about 40 feet wide. The groups of mines which have been under process of development during the past year are: Claraboya, San-Jose, San Clemente, and Plata-Fina. El Ultimo, Parra, and Olividos are held as important prospects. The ores from the mines on the west contact yield native silver, oxides, and gold. They are very docile, and readily yield to simple economic treatment. The assay values range from 15 to 5000 oz. silver and up to $70.00 in gold. the old dumps of the Claraboya have been very profitable to the owner who has been reworking them during the past two years. His developing the mine which an “adit which is giving good results.“(?) The San Jose is regarded as the ‘mascot’ of the camp. it was bought by G.W. DuPes about a year ago, since which time he has been developing and shipping ore, and erecting machinery. The Plata-Fina is between the San Jose and Claraboya, and adjoining them. It is being developed by a shaft on the junction of several veins. The San Clemente is owned by Rafael Ibara, president of the town of Promontories. The ore extracted more than pays expenses, and the owner regards it as the best prospect he has ever owned. These new workings, along with the Pulpito and Nueva Pomomtorio on the east contact, go to show what great possibilities await the judicious investment of capital along these two great fissure-veins. Side by side with these great mines are many undeveloped prospects that, judge by surface indications, warrant exploration.

mine ruins in la aduana, sonora, mexico. which is seven miles west of alamos, sonora, mexico  photo by anders tomlinson

life goes on as past, present and future coincide.

The district possesses favorable economic conditions for mine operations. The altitude averages about 2,000 feet above sea-level, and gives a climate, modified by the gulf-breezes, that is as healthy as any place on the Pacific Ocean. Water is abundant and of the best quality. The west part of the zone as access to the wooded hills to the southwest where such fuel is cheap. The transportation facilities are now good, as the recent completion of the Southern pacific Railroad of Mexico affords an outlet from Mínas Nuevas, and good wagon – roads lead to Masiacs, also on the railroad, and to the nearby seaport of Agiabampo. The cost of living and freighting is low.

mine ruins in la aduana, sonora, mexico. which is seven miles west of alamos, sonora, mexico  photo by anders tomlinson

The land is resting. an La Aduana goes on and on.

 This was given to me by a man who had learned of my interest in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico history. He asked me to visit his home that evening on Calle Madero. He told me that he had once been the city manager of Álamos, Sonora, Mexico and took pleasure in sharing his history library. He gave me the above article. I will look in my Alamos notes for his name: He may have been Jose Fabian Villegas Puentes.

When T. P. Brinegar wrote this the Alamos mint had been closed for 15 years. Most of mines had closed by 1909 because of politics, revolution and expensive quicksilver making mining unprofitable. The railroad from Alamos to Navajoa started operations in 1907 and would stop in 1933. Mr. Brinegar seems to have been a mining industry promoter, ever the optimist, and saw things more with his heart than his mind. None-the-less, this article does give one a sense of the geology and scope of Aduana – Promotories mining… Anders Tomlinson.

©2014 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Spring and Summer

11… A tale of two seasons, a tale of two spirits…

Late spring 1997, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The end of Spring seems like the end of the year.

In the dog days of Spring smoke from burning farm fields on the coast and Navajoa is blown up into the foothills of Alamos. Warm heavy air holds down a layer of dust that covers anything that doesn’t move. It is what it is, life goes on as another yearly cycle completes its course.

Spring time in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

And then the land comes alive with color and sounds of rejuvenation.

Everything glistens with a sheen of cleanliness. Spirit returns to the laugh and smile of the Alamos. Color explodes in what not long ago was the plainest of places. Behold a lush cornucopia of jungle greens accented with vibrant wildflower rainbows. Overhead, ever-changing skies take on moments of absolute magnificence. One is embraced by healthy glowing faces proud of their crops coming up around them. Lluvia! In the jubilant glory of rain’s fulfilled expectation, yes!, there’s more life to come. Lluvia!

Two seasons from Tecolote Hill

view of alamos, sonora, mexico to the east from tecolote hill, spring, 1995.  photo by anders tomlinson

It is mid-Spring, there is still a freshness to the air


The hills are turning a sullen brown. The gradual metamorphosis from vivacious green to parched brown sneaks up on the casual observer. It is seen best when looking at the hills. Many of the irrigated gardens in town stay green and colorful. But the hills…

view from Tecolete hill, Alamos, Sopnora, mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson

And here we are. It is always good to climb in the cool of the morning.


The air is aromatic – a taste of menthol. Birds are singing. The hills are alive with color.
There is water in mountain gullies. Growth is everywhere. It is summer. Lluvia!

End of Spring

Spring time, looking west from a dry distant hill at Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Its late Spring looking west at Alamos from the ranch’s high ground.


Where there is water there is green. This photo was taken on an Easter Sunday. Alamos, with Cacharamba behind it, is to the west.

late spring, looking west towards alamos, sonora, mexico.  easter sunday, 1996. photo by anders tomlinson

Where the desert meets the dry tropical forest.


When the summer rains come the dry arroyo could be at flood stage. On this easter Sunday one can only imagine rain. The dryness is everywhere.

alamos, sonora, mexico seen from red cross hill, piedra hola.  summer 1996.  photo by anders tomlinson

Summer 1996. The rains have come.


The hills are alive with the sound of music and color. Everything is overgrown. Where there were paths through the hills in the spring is now dense entanglement. One needs to be watching where they are go if they can go at all.

Two Spring Views from atop Sierra de Álamos

view of alamos, sonora, mexico from atop sireea de alamos in the spring. photo by anders tomlinson.

Gringo Point is to the upper right with Alamos below.

It is becoming warm despite the altitude. Álamos from here appears to nestled in the hills like an egg in a nest. It is a small colonial town surrounded by land that through history man has rarely touched. Here, the wilderness dominates and man exists.

view of the western edge of alamos, sonora, mexico seen fro atop sierra de alamos in the spring, 1995.  photo by anders tomlinson

El Camino Real takes the easy way northward.

Any season, hundreds of years ago, would be difficult to travel on the El Camino Real. But a road, like water, follows the path of least resistance. This view is towards the north-northwest. Over the horizon, hundreds of miles away, is the border and beyond, hundreds of miles, are Los Angeles and San Francisco. From here, at this moment, with morning tea over a small wilderness cooking fire, no bigger than a single flame, everywhere is far, far away.

Every year Summer Returns

View of alamos, sonora, mexico from the foot of mirador looking northwest in the summer.  photo by anders tomlinson.

Yes, it is summer time and the living is easy.

Summer returns every year as does a sunrise does every day. The question on many minds is will the rains return, and when? This scene is after an evening shower that had washed the streets clean and watered every garden.

And the mountains’ night skies explode

Summer is the Alamos season of vibrant color, rains and nights of natural magic and wonder.
Lightening on a warm Alamos summer evening is a show to remember. The romantic Plaza is a wonderful vantage point. Rolling thunder punctuates child’s play and lovers’ embraces.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Galeria de Arte

Upon the wall art becomes windows to somewhere else …

View of Galeria de Arte from the Plaza, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Galeria de Arte was in the building to the left as seen from the plaza.

Beverly Krucek sent me several emails about the gallery she had on the Plaza Las Armas for many years. The following information is complied from her notes. The photo above was taken during the summer of 1996. Beverly was also a leading member of the Alamos Heritage-History Association, AHA, that meets at the Agave Cafe in the Hacienda de los Santos once a month in the summer and every Thursday morning during the rest of the year.

Galarie de Arte opened on the plaza in 1994 and was run by Bev Krucek for some ten years, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson

At times Alamos itself seems a living work of art and history and futures.

Beverly Krucek opened the Galeria de Arte on the Plaza in 1994. On average 25 artists were shown in three rooms, portal and patio. Artists came from all over Mexico, some from Columbia, as well as Tucson, Phoenix, New Mexico and a couple from France. Some 10 year later, Bev decided to trade up to a gallery in an art mall being developed and promoted by the Franks in the Urrea house on Calle Obregon. Unexpected problems arose that stopped the art mall project from going forward. By that time, Bev had turned her rental lease over to B.K. Hamma for her use as book shop, gift shop, and a new art galley leased to Vickie Lockwood. Upon taking a further look at the situation, it appeared to Bev that the tourist trade, which was her main target for sales, had fallen off so she left the gallery scene.

Galarie de Arte opened on the plaza in 1994 and was run by Bev Krucek for some ten years, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson

Upon these walls, that have seen so much, art speaks of inside and outside.

Beverly wrote about the block that the Galeria was located in,

“The Galleria was on the plaza in the row between the Hotel Alamos and what at one time was the Bank. That strip is now occupied by a games emporium, the Tourist Bureau, (then the Galleria) and a home restoration by the Bours. The strip prior to that, was The Hotel Alamos, The Casino, and I think either a bank or more probably a small residence occupied by the Bours.  The Casino was a club like operation where the men gambled excessively and the women were welcomed on Wednesdays. Some reading offers the information that Alamos was a huge hub of gambling.  Makes sense since most of mining management was an absentee sort of operation there was lots of both time and money.  Cards were big as was cock fighting etc.”

View of plaza from El Mirador.  Location of Galeria de Arte is noted.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

View from Mirador of building where Galeria de Arte was located.

Years ago, when I was in Alamos, Hotel Alamos, also known by many of my friends as the old Miner’s Hotel, was in serious disrepair.

In her emails Beverly addressed the old hotel’s current condition,

“The building part that houses the former Hotel Alamos and to some extent the part that houses the Tourist Bureau is in very bad disrepair and held together in an attractive way by a nice paint job.  Adobe keeps crumbling.  Everyone grumbles about it but no one does anything.  It is owned by Anamaria Alcorn.  INAH in Hermosillo and the local government probably could step in and force the work to be done but who has the money and where does government restoration come in with private ownership?  The end part (corner of Guadalupe Victoria and Comercio) has been well, and I think properly, maintained and restored by the Bours family.”

Casa Nuzum, Calle Comercio 2, from church roof looking east, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Looking down from the church at Casa Nuzum, Calle Comercio 2.

Calle Comerico 2, Casa de Nuzum, recently became an art galley, La Casa del Arte, managed by Tony Estrada and his wife, Lupita. Tony is director of Museo Costumbrista de Sonora, on the Plaza, which features regularly scheduled art exhibitions. Tony is also a gifted sculptor who takes discards and turns them into assembled artistic statements. Beverly commented on La Casa del Arte’s opening night, May 20, 2011,

“Tony and Cammy Nuzum will oversee other areas in the house to be used by artisans for producing their work and selling it from there. It was fun to see Tony’s opening at the Nuzum house where he showed 4 or 5 of the artists I had represented some years ago. It was great to see that they had continued to develop new depths in  their work while still being identifiable in their own style.”

Calle Comercio 2 is across the street from the bank that was next to Galeria de Arte. When I was a guest of Casa Nuzum there were paintings on the walls and art books in the library. I always felt it would be a wonderful gallery space being next to the church and around the corner from the Plaza. Location, location, location… The concept of artists working and showing their work in this historic Casa is profound and hopefully productive. There is a recent history of artisans here, Elizabeth Nuzum hired local women to create her designer clothing line in a wonderful sewing studio in the back pool patio of the house.

Historic footnotes from Beverly that were included in one of the emails,

“There was a Hotel Minero across the Plaza from the Hotel Alamos.  It is the first building on Madero off the Plaza, sort of tucked in at the lower level of the Portales Hotel. It was owned by Palomares (a war hero from the French invasion) and is now called the Hotel Enrique owned by Blanca Quijada Navarro.”

“We still have to add a tiny bit to the Chinese use of the Mexican silver peso…. Alamos did not specifically produce for China… they used the coin that was minted here and identified by A or an underlined A. Kin Rynd who lived there at the time (the 20’s) said it was always referred to as the Mex… much as we would say a buck. It also added balast to the ships returning to China after the deliveries to Northern Mexico.”

Visit one of Bev’s many loves Alamos History Association

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Winter Videos

44 … A multi-faceted crew for a sparkling season, Christmas 1993 …

Film crew  as ghosts, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by gary Ruble.

Our crew as ghosts on a quiet night in Centro Alamos.

Calle Aurora connects the two busiest areas in Alamos: Alameda and Plaza de las Armas. It is an one-way street for cars and two-way passage for pedestrians, bicycles, and animals. It is my favorite street in Alamos, long and narrow with a gentle climb to the Plaza. Most of the night it can be still, homes sleeping as peaceful ghosts come out to loiter and reminisce. This is our crew doubling for ghosts and providing scale and detail to a night portrait frozen in time.

This is the crew that captured Alamos-Christmas-1993 and our hosts the Nuzums.

From left to right: Chaco Valdez, painting of Christina Vega by Jim Wison, Anders Tomlinson,
Gary Ruble, Donna Beckett, R. L. Harrington, Robert Ganey, and the Nuzums: Jolene, Kit,
Elizabeth and Pember. At this moment we were all together and thankful.

Gary Ruble photgraphing passerby from a ruin in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Gary Ruble photographs a passerby on Calle Hildalgo.

Gary Ruble took slides, shot 16 mm film, primarily single-frame time lapse, and helped with audio recording. He also disappeared into the arms of Alamos. Often the question would be asked, ” where is Gary?” and the answers were ” we last saw him headed off with some folks”. This is a good example of a ruin’s interior. Since our 1993 shoot the population of Alamos has nearly doubled. Looking at Alamos from space with Google maps I can see new construction and new neighborhoods. Alamos has been part of the southwest’s now dormant building boom. Another factor for Alamos’s growth is the same as its beginnings – silver. A large silver mine to the north reopened in 1999. I wonder how many ruins are still available for purchase and renovation?

Crew walks to town from Puerta Roja, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by unknown.

Part of the crew starts the day walking to town down Cerro Guadaloupe.

The crew was staying in two places a ten minute walk apart separated by Cerro Guadaloupe. In Alamos, the greatest joys maybe the unanticipated twinklings en-route to a preconceived destination. For R.L. Harringto, Robert Ganey, Donna Beckett and Anders Tomlinson this was one of those moments as they came out of cool winter shade at Puerta Roja and walked into warm sun as they approached Alamos Centro.

Kit Nuzum videos crew creating shadow dance, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

Kit Nuzum videos the crew creating an impromptu shadow dance.

Within in every artist there is a child that will not be silenced. At times, the child will take control and a sense of humanity is produced. This is one of those moments: human shadows dancing across a wall of time. There was the wall, the sun was setting, why not dance holding hands? This recreated a moment from a 1983 Alamos film shot by Anders Tomlinson and Kit Nuzum of kids dancing by the camera, holding hands, with their shadows racing across the ground.

Kit Nuzum standing, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Kit Nuzum, as the sun bids adieu, contemplates the meaning of meanings.

Christopher, his friends know him as Kit, Nuzum first introduced me to Alamos. We met on a beach while filming and helping with a preproduction setup of a Suzanne Lacy public art performance, Whispers, The Waves, The Wind, featuring white covered tables with white chairs and women, all over the age of 65, dressed in white discussing their lives. The women’s reflections would be broadcasted over speakers up on the bluffs surrounding the cove. An interesting moment in time of age contemplating time.

A couple of months later, spring of 1985, he invited me to go on a Mexico road trip. All he said about Alamos was that he knew I would like it. We arrived in Alamos hours before sunrise. Driving up Calle Aurora into, and around the Plaza, to Calle Comercio #2 and entering the front courtyard of the Casa Nuzum was a step into a place I had never been before. Kit walked me through three garden areas, fountains gurgling under the stars, to a guest room waiting for me in the back. I went to sleep in a dream, I awake to Alamos.

Today, 2013, Kit Nuzum is off the grid and brewing beer outside Puerto Varas, Chile.

Here are 1993 Winter Alamos videos filmed by this crew.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Peeling Paint

12… History is in the detail, humanness is in the design…

Wall texture, peeling paint in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Micro views have as much information as watching a stunning sunset.

This peeling paint is on a west facing wall, built in 1828 at the end of Calle Comercio. Álamos had become the capital of a combined Sinoloa and Sonora – the state of Occidente. The new Governor Jose Maria Gaxiola lived inside this wall. It is a scene repeated throughout Álamos, Sonora, México. In recent times, recent being relative, Rip Torn and Geraldine Page once found sanctuary behind this edifice. Think of the romantic full moons and the sweet smells of the night air. In the distance a young man serenades his girl.

paints peeling on alamos, sonora,, mexico wall. photo by anders tomlinson

Stains of age bleed through layers of paint peeling back time.

Struggles personified: scribed, scratched, torn, eroded, defaced, washed, painted by natural elements and human events. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

an interesting wall with words and dark triangle. alamos sonora mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Many times art comes from taking advantage of opportunity.

Graffiti, like tattoos, has taken on different significants in society. There is mean graffiti, cruel graffiti, criminal graffiti, obnoxious graffiti. And then there are a quiet moments when man etches himself into the wall. these moments come and go as does the days, months, years and centuries.

wall color and texture, peeling paint, alamos sonora mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

A calm moment in the relentless march of change for change’s sake.

Soothing pastels worn smooth, shine in the morning sun on an eastern facing wall. There are no images or words but there is feeling – much like minimalism modern art. Look long enough and there is movement.

paint throw onto an alamos, sonora, mexico wall. photo by anders tomlinson

It is all about gesture and action. What do we see? What do we feel?

Speaking of modern art. What was behind these two large action marks? Was it a planned act or an accident? This is a concrete wall – modern in Alamos time. Was a painter cleaning is bucket? Was it a statement from one person about another? These are the questions, and tales, that the walls of Álamos, Sonora, México present to willing imaginations.

wall painting of young couple near airport. alamos sonora mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

A young couple on a wall near the airport. Old and new together.

This painting was off the Old Camino Real as it turns to north west past the airport. Today the rod leads to nearby copper mines. It is probably much more traveled. there is little chance that is image remains – it is almost twenty years since the photo was taken.
Maybe the wall no longer exists, or…

wall detail of peeling paint, alamos sonora mexico.

Up close and within the details of passing time.

As one comes closer to the wall, or some would say ruins, one can see the marks take on greater significance as the design by natural elements and human events grow in intensity. There is form in the happenstance. Not all art is beautiful. Not all art is ugly. But all art is art.

This is an interior wall that is facing renovation. alamos sonora mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

This is an interior wall that is facing renovation.

There are moments of discovery, questions, appreciation and realization. This house probably has been in place a couple hundred years. Think of the get-togethers it has witnessed. The joys and sorrows. This wall knows life – good and bad.

old for sale sign, disappearing on an alamos, sonora mexico ruin wall.  photo by anders tomlinson.

The sign of time fades a sign of hope.


In a matter of years this sign has faded. Does this mean the property was sold and there was no more need for a sign so let time to its thing? Or does it indicate there were no buyers and the seller gave up the effort? Either way this wall is texture in a town of textures, Álamos, Sonora, México.

for sale sign on ruin, alamos. sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson

Advertising helps economies roll and money exchanges hands.

The message is bold, hard to miss and to the point. “This is for sale!” Is it art? Ask Andy Warhol what he thinks. Is it a statement? Certainly. And a marketing campaign begins again just like a sunrise.

Fast paced music video that is more than its parts, much like Álamos itself..
This is an experimental clip that weds close-ups textures shot out a moving car’s window and 120 blended stills images of Alamos life. High speed video at its best. Álamos, Sonora, México has never looked like this. Video…

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Cat & Goat

19 … All of Alamos is a little bit country, a little bit old world…

Cat and bananas, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Mid-morning at a Barrio La Compana store. Parrots can be heard.

Minutes from the central Plaza and Alameda life slows. Here, almost everyone is walking or on a bike. Clothes are being hand-washed and hung out to air dry in the Sonoran sun. Smells of wood- fire cooking dance on a light cooling breeze. This is the life rarely seen on Mexican TV. These are the rural suburbs surrounding southern Spain’s Andalusian design influenced downtown.

Here we are - a ten minute walk from the Colonial Plaza.  A lone sheep within the grass, alamos sonora mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson

Here we are – a ten minute walk from the Colonial Plaza.

This is near the top of the hill on the road leading southeast out of town. Walk a couple of hundred more yards and one can turn left and hike up to the top of El Mirador road. It is a summer morning. Looking at the hillside one can spot a local resident out for their own breakfast.

shwwp in grass, alamos sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

We have been seen and we see. A peaceful rural tradeoff.

The cool air refreshes the spirit, today’s heat has yet to arrive – it will be here soon. The cloud cover will burn off and the rising sun will begin to cook the earth’s crust. This is a wonderful time to be out and about. During late spring and through the summer it is best to travel when the sun is low.

Goat, and wild flowers, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  photo by Anders Tomlinson.

So you think you can out stare a sheep do you? Give it a try.

All is well on a walk from the Plaza to take in the Mirador’s rewarding 360 degree view. In my mind’s eye the best way to see Alamos is go walking in any direction for an hour. One will always be rewarded. And, one will always find their way back to where they started. Look, or listen, for the Cathedral, it is a compass. Animals wander freely around Alamos. They know where they are. And they know where home is.

The cook's dog rests in their drive way just to the west of the airport runway.  alamos sonora mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

A dog at rest near the western edge of the airport runway.

At the other end of town, maybe a twenty minute walk from the plaza, the Cook’s dog rests in their driveway. She recently had four pups who are now struggling to survive. This is her time. This is Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

goats at the western edge of the alamos airport runway, alamos sonora mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

Watch-guard goats patrol land surrounding their house

These are goats who do what they do when they want to do it. They patrol and protect. They weed, strip and fertilize. They, like the resting dog, are part of the Cook’s property. All for one, one for all.

The conclusion to a Short History of Alamos, Sonora, Mexico embraces the Sierra Madre.
Here, Bishop Reyes’ Cathedral in the Plaza, a three-tiered belfry, shines gold in morning light. Here, looking east, one’s imagination is stirred by the forbidding beauty of the Sierra Madre Occidentals. Together, they shape the Alamos experience. Video…

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Calle Comercio 2

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum seen from bishop reyes cathedral, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Casa Nuzum seen from Bishop Reyes Cathedral. These are two long-time neighbors.

There is a charming city worth visiting
Pember and Elizabeth Nuzum first visit Alamos in 1953. They were introduced to Alamos by Tucson friends they were visiting in Guaymas. These friends told the Nuzums of a charming city down the two lane highway to Navajoa. The road from Navajoa to Alamos was dirt, full of ruts, crossed water and dirt and had roaming livestock, an ever-present danger. “The Tesoros was open then, and we would have liked to have stayed overnight–but our friends had to go back to Tucson, so we left.  We came back again as soon as we could…” from an interview with Pember Nuzum by Bev Krucek and Leila Gillette. Elizabeth Nuzum remembered that the Tesoros wasn’t officially open at the time but the staff would make them sandwiches and they be warmed by fireplaces. Kit Nuzum recall that his parents traveled to Alamos in the 1960’s with Linda Ronstats’ family.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, rainy day, summer 1996,, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

A refreshing summer rain cools and cleans the Alamos streets and air.

A deal falls through and an opportunity rises.
Over the next twenty-five years Pember and Elizabeth lived at their Williams Addition property, in what is now the center of Tucson, and visited Alamos often, staying at both the Tesoros and Portales Hotels. They were prepared to buy a house in Los Arcos, in Tucson, but the deal fell through and they bought a ruin on Calle Comercio 2 from Jack and Jane Stewart. Most likely famed resident and real estate entrepreneur Levant Alcorn was involved with the sale. Carlos Pratt notes that his father, Charles Holt Pratt Jr, Chuck to his friends, was the realtor and a close friend of Pember’s. The property had been vacant for fifty years with collapsed roofs, no plumbing or electricity, dirt floors and a .5″ water pipe in the back building. Pember recalled that an American had lived there and that his bathroom was a hole in the floor.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum looking at the three-tiered belfry of bishop reyes cathedral, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

The Cathedral, and its bells, are part of Casa Nuzum’s fabric and being.

Home of the Silver Barons.
Calle Comercio was built in 1780 and was known as the Casa de “Chato Almada”, a famous Silver Baron, in the early 1800’s. Official records indicate that work on the church, Bishop Reyes Cathedral, began in 1786 and was finished in 1803. One could have been inside this casa and watch the three – tiered belfry rise in the sky.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Many have come to this door with a variety of reasons, expectations and wonder.

A set of false teeth, a door and a fireplace.
It took Pember And Elizabeth Nuzum four years to restore the project at a cost, according to Kit, their son, of $80,000. During the restoration they purchased an adjoining house from Micha, a nurse who lived in it. Pember remembered it was difficult to get her to vacant the property. Elizabeth recalled that part of the deal was providing Micha with a set of false teeth, a fireplace and a front door. Ana Marie Alcorn helped the Nuzums secure a deed, a difficult task, for the new addition. Now, the Nuzum project was a 8,000 square foot house sitting on 800 square meters.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Relax. Listen to your heart. Breath deep. Appreciate. Be one with all.

A body in the backyard.
They moved from room to room as the restoration was underway. Don Jacinto Urbulan was the contractor. There was a drain in the front of the patio where the fountain is now.  They moved it to the side. Pember states that they found a body in the backyard and bone bits scattered around the ruin. He theorized that the property may once had been part of the first churches’ courtyard.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, nuzum pond with fish,1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Does this fish understand how fortunate it has life in this well-tended pond?

The prodigal son speaks of secret tunnels and silver ingots.
Kit Nuzum wrote, ” I took a metel detector around the house and found silver ingot size anomalies in Pember’s bedroom – the old silver vault. The vigas on the roof are 8 inches apart not like
the standard 18 inches. Mom would not let me dig in her walls.
We found hollow spaces when putting in drains in the back utility room. This was suspected to be the famous escape route to the church. In the same walls, adjoining Edith Pratt’s place seven small skeletons were found. They were returned to a resting place.  They might have been miscarriages or unwanted pregnancies.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, nuzum living room, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Just outside a world moves from here to there in both time and space.

A popular color from the past.
In painting the inside of their house, they tried to match the original colors.  The coral color in their living room had been a popular color in the Álamos homes of the 19th Century. The scene above, minus the electric lights, could have been much the same two hundred years ago.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by gary ruble.

In the cool of the night peace and rest prevails

The green house off the Plaza next to the Church.
Casa Nuzum on Calle Comercio is known for the green color Pember and Elizabeth chose to paint the exterior. Most of the surrounding homes were painted white at that time. Elizabeth, in an interview, recalled that there may have been an ordinance requiring houses a certain distance from the church to be painted white or pastel. Such is life in a Colonial Center.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, entrance to nuzum museum, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Inside this door is the Nuzum family museum, beyond are bedrooms and workshops.

Sharing is part of the Alamos spirit.
The Saturday Amigos de Educación house and garden tours of Calle Comercio 2 were usually led by Pember Nuzum. They would stop in a small room between patios and learn about the Nuzum family and, of course, the ghosts of Alamos. Elizabeth Nuzum had given Alamos a gift of a library which the city would take over. Tour money was donated to start a scholarship program which now supports many Alamos students.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, nuzum swimming pool, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

In the very back a small pool serves, reflects and comforts the soul.

Another patio, another world.
The back patio is where Elizabeth had a sewing room. Her close friendship with Pat Axelrod created a design business called Milagro. Carmen Rosas and her daughter sew the exquisite clothing, decorative pillows and pillows Elizabeth designed. The rear section of property has a secondary kitchen will all amenities, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, sala, laundry and pool. Spiral staircase to rooftop terrace with exceptional views.
The rooftop garden was one of Elizabeth’s great joys.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, nuzum kitchen 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

A busy kitchen is the heart of any and all Alamos’ casas.

Enjoying modern comforts in a colonial setting.
Calle Comercio 2’s main living section off of Calle Comercio has two courtyard gardens and portals for outdoor living. The formal salon is sixty feet in length with a grand fireplace and high ceilings. Full kitchen with traditional colonial oven, plus three bedrooms and two baths, library, dining, salon and office provide modern living comforts to a restoration true to its origins: spaces, ceilings, canterra columns, doors, windows, and other colonial architectural details.

calle comercio 2, alamos, sonora, mexico.  casa nuzum, garden with pond, photo by anders tomlison

It takes attention and effort to keep these gardens flourishing.

Reflecting on maintaining Calle Comercio 2.
It takes a great effort to preserve a restoration.  Kit writes, “Pember always had three full time employees: a mozo, gardener and maid.  There was always a constant stream of mallestros from plumbing to carpentry to masons to laborers.  The house was swept and dry mopped daily, 8000 square feet. The 3 patios were trimmed, watered and fertilized regularly.
The roof was painted annually…”

calle comercio 2, alamos, sonora, mexico. casa nuzum, kids with kites pass by house, photo by anders tomlinson

Another parade passes between Calle Comercio 2 and the Church.

A place for encouragement and self-expression.
A kite festival, started by Elizabeth and her daughter Cammie and son-in -law Chaco, has become a local tradition on windy March days. Seen above, young kite-flyers return from the Mirador at the top of Perico Hill. Calle Comercio is a parade throughout the day. Funerals pass by on their way from the Church to the graveyard. To and from school and market students and adults come and go. Elizabeth, and Calle Comercio, played an important part promoting education and the arts in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

calle comercio 2, alamos, sonora, mexico. casa nuzum, garden with pond, photo by anders tomlinson

I often saw Elizabeth, “Bett” to her friends in this Madonna’s face.

It felt like home.
Kit Nuzum looks back at Calle Comercio 2: “Elizabeth was in charge of all things for making a good quality of life. Her architectural knowledge helped make the Alamos property a national heritage site as shown in various publications. Her appointments of the space where renowned. To come  to an Elizabeth and Pember party was memorable and a delight. The elegance and joy for the invited guest was legendary still to this day. The home appointments were eclectic, ethnic, international, warm and pleasant. I have fond memories of Christmas and New years at Calle Comercio 2. And many happy party nights in this once-in-a-life-time space. The one thing I really remember  is it felt like home.  I spent 13 years in Alamos but I never lived there full-time, just a visitor…”

Elizabeth Nuzum at her greeting table. Photo - Joan Gould Winderman

Elizabeth at her greeting table. Photo – Joan Gould Winderman

For more about Elizabeth Nuzum

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©2014 Anders Tomlinson, Alamos History Association and Kit Nuzum, all rights reserved.

Elizabeth Nuzum

Elizabeth Nuzum flanked by two men in her life, Kit Nuzum and Pember Nuzum.  photo by gary ruble.  1993.  alamos sonora mexico..

Elizabeth Nuzum flanked by two men in her life, Kit and Pember.

Elizabeth Nuzum was the first person I met after waking up in Calle Comercio 2 after a 900 mile car-with her son Kit Nuzum and his girl friend. Elizabeth was in the kitchen along with her helper Alba. I introduced myself, Anders Tomlinson, and she asked what my full name was. I replied Anders Paul Tomlinson. She looked into my eyes and said that would be a wonderful name for a writer. I was one of many, more likely a multitude, that were greeted, and complimented, by Elizabeth on their arrival to Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

elizabeth nuzum in college.  photo supplied by cammie nuzum

Elizabeth enjoying her California college coed days. Photo courtesy – Cammie Nuzum

Elizabeth passed away June 18, 2014 at the age of 93 in Tuczon, Arizona. Her life began in Manila, the Philippines. Her early years were spent in China and Japan. She met, and married, Pember Nuzum while attending Scripps College in Claremont, CA. It was a life of big pictures, details, friends, helpers and those she helped. She was a flower that opened up, blooming every day, to the world.

Elizabeth and Pember Nuzum on their wedding day.  photo supplied by cammie nuzum

Elizabeth and Pember Nuzum on their wedding day. Photo courtesy – Cammie Nuzum

Pember and Elizabeth were part of the fabric that is Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. At times, they had a hand in selecting materials and tailoring of this social fabric. They were colorful, as big as life and up to the countless challenges that comes with building a home in another land rich with history, tradition and culture.

Elizabeth Nuzum at her greeting table. Photo - Joan Gould Winderman

Elizabeth at her greeting table. Photo – Joan Gould Winderman

I appreciate Pember and Elizabeth’s kindness which helped me develop the project that is reflected by the website you are currently visiting. Here are a couple of articles that featured Elizabeth.

99… Elizabeth’s experimental place – garden, El Pedregal… first of two parts…

Big Fig tree at the Pedregal, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

In a magnificent setting there is this fig tree to admire and celebrate.

Pember and Elizabeth Nuzum owned a lot off a dirt road in the Chaleton area, place of the fig trees, west of Alamos. They planned to built a tennis court on it. One day Elizabeth traveled further west on the road and came across this fig tree. It was love at first site. She coaxed Pember into selling their lot, and it sold unexpectedly quickly. Elizabeth, on her own, purchased the undeveloped three acres with the fig tree from Martha and Al Haywood. Elizabeth christen the property El Pedregal, the stoney place. This was her project, her experimental place to build and plant what she wanted. It was her dream to bring art, community and nature together under the out-stretched limbs of a magnificent fig tree.

El Pedregal's front gate, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Elizabeth loved her big green door that was El Pedregal\’s entrance.

The first thing Elizabeth did at El Pedregal was build a meandering road leading through and around the property to the fig tree. The heavy green gates at Pedregal’s entrance, where the public dirt road comes to its end, were made from old doors Elizabeth collected in town. She had put them together by Nemecio Figueroa in his family’s carpenter shop on the way to the Panteon, cemetery, at the eastern edge of town. Behind these green gates there were, and are, worlds of natural wonder. The seasons pass as birds, insects and mammals come and go.

A straw-bale studio

A small group gather outside the strawbale house built by Elizabeth Nuzum on El Pedregal, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Elizabeth Nuzum wanted to build a straw-bale house in Alamos. She did.

Elizabeth had read the book Out on a Limb by Peter and Victoria Nelson. It was about tree houses and other construction such as straw-bale houses. Elizabeth decided she wanted to build a straw-bale in her garden of experiments. She contacted the Nelsons as they were preparing to visit Russia and demonstrate straw-bale technology. They recommended that she talk to the authors of The Straw-Bale House, Bill and Athena Steen. Elizabeth felt it was important to build a straw-bale structure as an example of what could be a relatively inexpensive home concept for Mexico. Unable to have an expert come down to build the straw-bale studio she relied on the Steen’s book and hired her son-in-law Chacho Valdez and his brothers to start the project. Chacho would build the basic structure: roof, walls and an unfinished floor.

A palapa for all seasons and reasons

Looking from the south at the Pedregal's Palapa and the Straw bale studio in the background, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The Palapa was the first structure built at El Pedregal. It was a work office.

Before the Straw-bale studio was started Elizabeth and Chacho took a stick and scribed out a large circle as the palapa’s floor-plan. Her intent was to have a place where people could socialize and admire the fig tree. She wanted it to have two entrances and no center pole. Chacho said it could be done and he went about construction.

The amazing hand-woven palapa roof took a crew five months to put together as they had to wait for after full moons to collect the palapa leaves. As work continued on the property the fig tree was host to shamanic dances, earth renewal ceremonies, sweat lodges, barbecues, coffee parties, art classes and…

Chacho Valdez, man of mystery

Chacho Valdez, builder of the Pedregal's palapa, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photos By Anders Tomlinson.

Chaco Valdez, renaissance man, making a spiritual point and jump starting a car.

Chacho Valdez stands in front of his new home under construction, Alamos Sonora Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson

I always thought of Chacho as a rock n’ roll medicine man. He looked like a pirate with long flowing hair and beard, bandanas and hats. One day Chaco looked at me with one eye somewhere else and stated, ”if you stare at a cloud long enough it will disappear…” This is an anthem-theme that I use whenever I speak of Alamos.

Chacho and Cammie, his former wife, were instrumental in creating the Children’s Kite Festival held in the spring. Chacho, a bit of a mischievous child himself, loved children. He also loved to sing in his big booming voice. The last time I saw Chacho he was building a circular two-story house on the well-traveled entrance road up to the top of El Mirador. The site doesn’t seem like it would be conducive for privacy during park visiting hours but, my oh my, what a magnificent awe-inspiring view! …

98… Returning to El Pedregal’s ever-present spirit… second of two parts…

Drinking beer in the late afternoon outside El Pedregal"s strawbale house, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Here is a place to come together and be a warm late afternoon dream.

Liliana Carosso, on the right, and Ginny Brown, along with an unidentified woman in the middle, enjoy a natural moment. Lilliana is a prominent Alamos real estate agent. Here, one is in another world. Time loses importance and nature, and a couple of beers, encourages relaxed deep breathing.

Kit Nuzum returns to Alamos

Pedregal under construction, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

From dirt and straw and other natural elements a large studio is born

Elizabeth’s son, Kit, returned from one of his many global travels and took over the task of finishing the straw-bale studio. He also managed the digging of a well at the spot chosen by a water dowser. A solar pump was installed and irrigation began with water from beneath El Pedregal”s surface. Elizabeth purchased indigenous and rare trees and plants. And as the nature is for these parts some took, and some didn’t as any Alamos gardner has experienced.

Elizabeth Nuzum and her son Kit with the construction team and the Friedlobs, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Most of construction team and advisors gather around Elizabeth Nuzum.

Kit had no prior working knowledge of straw-bale construction and “just went for it” with the help of Chone, a cousin of Chacho. They poured an earthen adobe floor with the help of Steve Frielobs. The windows were made by Angel Rosas. The adobe interior walls that made the kitchen and bathroom was there but unfinished. Kit and Chone, along with several others, finished the walls and the loft decking as well as the grand stair case, designed by Alamos resident Irmine Stelzner, with wood from the old Boors monastery on the southwest corner of the Plaza. The original douglas fir came by train from Oregon in 1910. Irmine’s husband Allen Stelzner designed and made the iron latch on the front door.

Creating color pigment from nearby hills

Finished exterior of the straw bale studio at El Pedregal, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

The finished exterior blended in with the surroundings.

Elizabeth’s straw-bale studio was originally painted with a palette of colors made from dirt in the surrounding hills. The soil that would be used to make the paint came from a spot that was along a long walk that Chacho took me on the last day of my first visit to Alamos. Chacho said it was a local custom. As we were returning to Alamos I asked Chacho if the earth was purple and he nodded yes. In this one area there was literally a rainbow of dirt. Fifteen years later, Kit and I, along with a couple of assistants and a wheel barrow, set off to find this magical place. We found it not far from El Pedregal along with shards of am old pottery. The work crew spent the morning gathering earthen colors from the area as I filmed. Later, Kit mixed the earth-toned dirts – pale green, red, blue, green, ivory, white and lavender with prickly pear and agave goo called baba. The solution sat for a week before glue was added and wiped onto the interior walls: home made paint.

Later, author Paul Molyneaux, seeking a quiet harbor from his noisy young children, finished his book The Doryman’s Reflection, a Fisherman’s Life in the serene straw-bale studio. Tony Estrada, director of the Museo de Costumbrista and artist, sculpted a centaur for Elizabeth that was placed beneath the fig tree.

View of Tecolote Hill from El Pedegral, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The morning begins with seeing where we will be in a couple of hours.

On this summer day in 1996 I would go on a hike with Chacho, his young son Sereno, his girlfriend and Chone to the top of Tecolete Hill, seen here sun-capped. Sierra de Alamos rises up in the background. We would leave from El Pedregal at sunrise and be atop Tecolote Hill in a couple of hours. This turn out to be a day of exercise and aroma therapy in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

El Pedregal today

Elizabeth sold El Pedregal to Jennifer and David MacKay in 2005. They added another 17 acres to what is now El Pedregal Nature Lodge and Retreat Center. They have also upgraded the infrastructure and added a couple of casitas. Today, they offer lodging, nature tours, sunday brunches and yoga lessons amongst many other activities that they are involved with.

Bird bath at El Pedregal, Alamos Sonora, Mexico

Elizabeth\’s intent was to have both a nature preserve and artist studio

I recently enjoyed watching David Wilson’s Big Birding Day on PBS’ POV, point-of- view, series. The 2011 12-minute film features David Mckay as a birding guide for several birders intent on a big birding day. The film documents the world of competitive bird watching where one tries to see, or hear, as many bird species as one can in 24 hours. The opening scene takes place under the Pedregal’s palapa as they prepared for a day of ambitious adventure. I was struck by David’s curiosity and connection to his environment.

I had spent nine years filming wildlife on the Tulelake, Lower Klamath, Clear Lake, Upper Klamath Lake and Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuges along the California-Oregon border. If David had come and spent a couple of days in the field with me he would have had a wonderful time. And I am equally sure I would enjoy spending a couple of days with David Mckay in Alamos and surrounding habitats. Both of these regions are known for diversity of flora and fauna, especially numbers of bird species. There are birds that visit both Alamos and Tulelake on their yearly migrations.

Elizabeth Nuzum placed this bird bath on Pedregal’s giving ground for her small friends to use, just as she built the straw-bale studio and palapa for friends to visit with friends, even if it is only communing with one’s self, alone.

This entry was aided by notes from Elizabeth Nuzum, Kit Nuzum and Joan Winderman.

78… A rooftop that lives and breath all things Alamos…

Nuzum roof top garden across the street ffom Bishop Reyes Catheral, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Elizabeth Nuzum\’s garden across the street from Bishop Reyes Cathedral.

Here, in the shadow of cathedral bells and angelic choirs was a multi-purpose rooftop garden. A narrow wrought iron caracol, snail, spiral staircase led one up from a back patio with a small pool to an expansive array of raised planter boxes. Elizabeth Nuzum enjoyed people, her home, her gardens and life in Alamos. For many, her husband Pember and Elizabeth were Alamos greeters, welcoming visitors inside the old wood doors on Calle Comercio. Elizabeth designed and managed her gardens while Pember kept an eye on the household finances.

Flowers and Sierra de Alamos from Nuzum's roof garden, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

20 feet above the street one can hold a conversation with passing clouds.

The roof top garden and its 360 degree views was a special place. The sky at night, with stars there to be touched while one laid back on a substantial Sonoran cot, was a connection to all things in all places. Rooftop eavesdropping on the comings and goings along Calle Comercio and Calle Guadaloupe Victoria tuned one in with the heartbeats of Alamos: Bishop Reyes Cathedral, Palacio, Plaza de Las Armas, Mercado, all points of the compass and all events past and present.

Nuzum roof top garden looking east at Mirador, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Mirador voices, at times, arrived here with a favorable wind.

Let me count the sounds I heard up on the roof: uniformed school kids walking in groups, talking, laughing, singing, stepping off rhythms, kicking balls, kids being all things kids. Occasional horse hoofs echoing on cobblestone streets. Music from rattling car and truck radios ricocheting off narrow streets. Surround sound bird songs and calls punctuated by barking dogs, working hammer and saws and distant braying burros. All combinations of people passing by: one, two, or three generations together talking, workers, errand runners, neighbors en-route to visit neighbors or hang out in the Plaza, shop at the Alameda and Mercado or attend to business at the Palacio or… This garden overlooked the center of Centro Alamos’ rainbow of expression: joy, surprise, acceptance, expectations, anger, yearning, anticipation. greetings, farewells…

Christina Vega on Nuzum's roof garden, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A young girl picks flowers on the roof, a simple moment, a simple smile.

Christina Vega, daughter of Chacho and Cammie, sister of Gaspar, walked in all worlds Alamos. Her Mexican blood was Chaco’s large family and her American blood was Cammie’s parents Elizabeth and Pember and brother Kit who came to visit from his world travels. Cammie and Chacho lived modestly on Calle Ninos Heroes, a short walk from the grand roof top garden on the the other side of Guadaloupe Hill.

Christina Vega and church from Nuzum roof, alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

What does Christina see, and hear, on this spring day in 1984?

The roof’s northwest corner, with a view into the Plaza and Gazebo, was across the street from the bank. At opening time a line of people would be waiting sharing conversation. Daily masses brought people to the church’s eastern door. Funerals processions would leave the church and passed by as they headed east to the Panteon – Cemetery. Police headquarters, at times busy, were three houses to the east on Calle Comercio. Tourists speaking English, French, German and other languages would stop and chat as they headed to and from surrounding lodging. At night, one could listen to quitar playing coming from Polos restaurant’s kitchen as well as the Estudiantina practicing at the Museum. At this moment Christina is listening to the public serenade that is Alamos.

Pember told Anders, “always call us Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.” And Anders has.

Pember and Elizabeth Nuzum were a major part of the North American Community for decades. Their casa next to the Church on Calle Comercio #2 greeted many many who visited Alamos, including Anders. It is not uncommon to have rain squalls in December. And it was common to hear Pember playing his theater organ in the Nuzum music room. Those days are gone. But the spirit lingers, it always does.

This is the crew that captured Alamos-Christmas-1993 and our hosts the Nuzums.

A film crew embraced by the Nuzums’ hospitality
From left to right: Chaco Valdez, painting of Christina Vega by Jim Wison, Anders Tomlinson,
Gary Ruble, Donna Beckett, R. L. Harrington, Robert Ganey, and the Nuzums: Jolene, Kit,
Elizabeth and Pember. At this moment we were all together and thankful. This is an example
of the Nuzums reaching out to others and their love for Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

To see Elizabeth and Pember’s Alamos home visit Calle Comercio 2

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Alamos Windows

20 … Looking at windows from the outside is different than looking outside from within…

little house in alamos, sonora,mexico that is painted with natural vegatation.  photo by anders tomlinson.

Can you find the little house that can be hard to see?

Walking down the dirt roads, off the nearby plaza, are ventures into another land – another time in space. It is a land of people close to the land. It is a place where the little things are of greater substance and meaning. Here nature is loud – listen to crowing roosters next door, decipher neighboring dog barks and admire native birds singing in concert with days of old and now. This is Alamos, Sonora, Mexico

house covered with plants. Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

This little house caught my eye as it lived and breathed.

This was a wonderful casa in Barrio El Barranco. Going green has been a concept as far back as the planet’s beginning. Most poor people of the earth are off the grid. And the use of plant materials for shelter is common across the continents. This house has it all, a tribute to its surroundings.

Remodeled home on Las Auroras.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A wonderful example of a ruin restored to modern splendor.

I first met this ruin on Calle Las Auroras while heading out to the airport 1983. It was still a ruin when I revisited in 1993. Work seemed to be underway to clean the property. I was told some Hollywood folks were in the process of bringing it back to life. Three years later it was a sparkling gem along a dusty road. Future posts will look at the resurrection of this home.

triangle windows on Calle Las Auroras.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Another window treatment on Calle Las Auroras.

This window seems to come from an earlier time and a different civilization. Stark triangles in a thick wall of adobe. It seemed there were children playing outside it’s door every time I passed by on my way to the airport and countryside.

Window bars cast dancing shadows against an alamos, sonora, mexico white washed wall.  photo by anders tomlinson.

iron shadows dance across a white washed wall.

Alamos is known for its craftsmanship. Here, there are artists amongst the trades. This ornamental, and functional, iron window bar, in the colonial centro, creates a show of strength and poetic movement as its shadows follow the passing sun. Elegance.

window bar treatment in centro alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

Home security begins with window bars of many colors and designs.

Function. There is no doubt the intention is to protect. This bar design seem more suited for a commercial establishment along a busy street. It is all about intention.

Warmth Radiates off of Adobe Walls as Another Winter Day Begins.
Kite flying is popular in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Drinking beer outside the pickup with friends is popular. Fun and work go on side by side as we visit a wood shop. Video …

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Alamos Gas Stations

alamos sonora mexico gas station photos by humberto enriquez

The Old Gas Station

 The traditional gas station is on the western edge of the busy Alameda, Alamos, sonora, Mexico. Photo by Humberto Enríquez

The busy station on the western edge of the Alameda – Photo: Humberto Enríquez.

In Alamos the gas station of Jesus Salido in the center of the town is the traditional gas station that has been serving for many years Alamos residents, tourists and anybody who have a car, motorcycle, truck or bus. One person said if you watch the peoples coming and going at the gas station you learns much about what makes Alamos go, that is true and the Alamos activities, over the years don’t change much – Humberto

A Bird’s Eye View

The Salido gas station on the Alameda seen from Guadalupe Hill. alamos, sonora, mexico .  photo by Humberto Enríquez

The Alameda gas station seen from Guadalupe Hill. Photo: Humberto Enríquez

Many things change, different people, different stores, different cars, different trees but our necessities of gas for our cars, or air for our bicycles, or tires are the same until we find energy other than fossil fuels for our cars and motorcycles – Humberto

A Wider Bird’ Eyes View of the Alameda Gas Station

2014 - Looking northwest from Guadaloupe Hill. Photo: Huberto Enríquez. alamos sonora mexico.

2014 – Looking northwest from Guadaloupe Hill. Photo: Huberto Enríquez

Eco Gas Station

New natural gas station is the eco station.  alamos, sonora, mexico.Photo:  Humberto Enríquez.

There is a natural gas station in Alamos. Photo: Humberto Enríquez.


This station is one 1 km west of Alamos on the highway to Navajoa.

Modern Times Drive On Into the Future

Welcome to the 21st Century ala Pemex. another new gas station in alamos sonora mexico. Photo: Humberto Enríquez.

Welcome to the 21st Century ala Pemex. Photo: Humberto Enríquez.

Since the year 2000 Alamos has had many changes. Alamos went back to its beginnings years with the opening of two mines and that started an avalanche of companies who serve to the mines. These past years the Municipal Government, State Government and Federal Government promoted the town as an international tourist destination. Alamos was introduced in the program of Pueblos Magicos de Mexico. Several promotional videos of the region and the town which were shown in different countries around the world to attract tourists. This produced increased – excessive flow of vehicles and the opening of more gas stations – Humberto

Where There is a Need…

A modern gas station fills the auto needs of Alamos. Photo: Humberto Enríquez. alamos sonora mexico

A modern gas station fills the auto needs of Alamos. Photo: Humberto Enríquez.

Today we have 3 gas and one natural gas station in Alamos. The oldest one is owned by “Jesus (Chuy) Salido” in the center of the town. The other gas stations are all on the road to Navajoa. “La Carretera” is located near the Alamos hospital. “El Datil” located 3 KM from Alamos. The natural gas station is located 1 km from Alamos – Humberto

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©2014 Alamos-Sonora-Mexico.com and Humberto Enríquez, all rights reserved.

Álamos Cine Festival

april 3-6, 2014 alamos film festival header

Come One, Come All… It’s movietime!

A Magical moment in a Magical Pueblo.  Photo: Joel Gastélum

A magical moment in a Pueblo Magical. Photo: Joel Gastélum

r for the fourth annual alamos film festival, small.The photo above is from the closing ceremony at the Palacio.  The theme of the festival was “100 years of Maria Felix” and Miguel Castillo is singing “Maria Bonita” with Maria Felix’s eyes projected onto the screen behind him.  After he finished singing we played the movie “Yerba Mala” which was filmed in Alamos two years ago.  There were 700 seats filled in the Palacio for the closing ceremony.

Audience inside the palacio for the 4th annual alamos film festival.  alamos, sonora, mexico. 2014. photo - Joel Gastélum

What is a festival without an audience? Photo: Joel Gastélum

Meanwhile outside in the streets

line of people waiting outside the Palacio, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico to watch the film festival.  photo by Joel Gastélum

They came to be part of the film festival. photo- Joel Gastélum

 
More people were lining up outside and we were out of seats, so we made the announcement that we would also show “Yerba Mala” in the Plaza.  An additional 500 people showed up to see it in the plaza.

Outdoor Cine on a plaza side street.  photo - Joel Gastélum.  alamos, sonora, mexico.

Outdoor Cine on a plaza side street. Photo: Joel Gastélum

Maria Felix exhibition

inside the Museo Costumbrista de Sonora.  april 5th, 2014 opening of an Maria felix exhibition.  alamos, sonora, mexico.   photo - Joel Gastélum

Inside The Museo Costumbrista de Sonora. Photo: Joel Gastélum

On Saturday, April 5th there was also a Maria Felix exhibition in the museum. The exhibit was organized by our festival president, René Solis and was put together by a curator from the museum of Popular Arts in Mexico City. The exhibition will stay in the museum for at least a month and then will go to Mexico City and Paris this summer. Seen here from left to right are Benjamín Anaya (Presidente Municipal), Maria Duran (Representante de IMCINE) and Monica Luna (representante del Intitudo Sonorense de Cultura).

Inside museo costumbrista de sonora.  april 5th.  maria felix exhibition. photo - Joel Gastélum

History is for us all, young and old. Photo: Joel Gastélum

Here are some of the people that make the Festival happen.

caroline Duarte, larissa veg, joel gastélum, john sheedy and Andres Montiel.  alamos film festival april 3-6 2014. alamos sonora mexico.  photo by joel gastélum.

Hard work and good friends help make a festival happen. Selfie: Joel Gastélum


This happy moment is shared by some of the folks involved with the Festival. From left to right: Carolina Daurte (Festival coordinator), Larissa Vega (Maestra de ceremonia), Joel Gastélum (festival tech guy/ photographer), John Sheedy (Festival director) and Andres Montiel (actor, workshop teacher). This looks like a place to be having fun.

It takes a community to present a film festival

A group portrait of alamos film festival organizers taken in the Alamos Museum. Photo: Joel Gastélum.  alamos sonora mexico. april 3-6, 2014.

A group portrait taken in the Alamos Museum. Photo: Joel Gastélum

The Festival organizers in the photo above from left to right: Rosario Alvarez (El Turismo del Palacio), luz del Carmen Parra (Representante del Turismo del Estado), Angel Flores (Representante de la Educación), René Solís (Presidente de FICAM), Monica Luna (representante del Intitudo Sonorense de Cultura), Benjamín Anaya (Presidente Municipal), Maria Duran (Representante de IMCINE), Antonio Estrada (Director del Museo), Sandra Bustillos Sheedy (Secretaria del Festival), John Sheedy (Director del Festival), Carolina Duarte (Coordinadora del Festival), Marisol de Vega (amiga del festival). This group portrait was taken in the Alamos Museum on April 5th during the inauguration of the Maria Felix exhibit. The exhibit is sponsored by FICAM and will go on to Mexico City and Paris this summer.

now and then spacer

Notes courtesy of John Sheedy. John is a teacher at the United World College as well as Director of the Alamos Film Festival and a filmmaker.

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©2014 Alamos-Sonora-Mexico.com and Joel Gastélum, all rights reserved.

Church Bells

64… Two churches, two bells, two men and two towns…

tino, caretaker of the church, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

Tino and his beloved Bishop Reyes Cathedral face another sunset.

I knew this would be an interesting photograph. A man, who, in his face, had seen much of what life has to offer, a church bell framed by its belfry and a natural backdrop stretching from Mirador to Sierra Madres. All were lit by a low brillant sun whose golden rays were diffused by humid shimmering heat waves. We only had a moment to take this photo, as we were speaking he was summoned to fix a pressing property emergency, this is what maestro Tino did. I asked him to look towards the sun and pressed the shutter button. One click and done, another moment saved for the future, this is what Anders does.

Caretaker and bell at Aduana church, near Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson

Caretaker of Nuestra Senora de Balvanere Church in nearby Aduana.

La Aduana on a midweek day in late Spring is peaceful. Take away the sounds of birds, insects, burros, dogs and a handful of kids and it is really quiet. Few cars will be heard for hours.
This is a place where the past lingers on, mining sites and ruins litter hillsides, a lonely plaza’s dry fountain surrounded by buildings once busy including a store where customers’ shoes for hundreds of year have cut a groove into the floor. I visit the small church and met the caretaker who takes me on the roof so I can see the town from where the bells of Nuestra Senora de Balvanere are. The church has an interesting story involving a beautiful maiden, Indians and some rocks, but that is for a coming journal entry. It is hard to imagine what it is like when
thousands of pilgrims arrive in La Aduana, many walking along arroyos from Alamos, to honor the Virgin of Balvanere every November 21st. A breeze kicks up dust on an empty road, a crow calls, three boys in a dry creek bed laugh and the day moves on. Life in Aduana 1996 is much different than life in Aduana 1700, one can only wonder what it will be like in Aduana 2020.

two church bells at bishop reyes cathedral, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photos Gary Ruble and Anders Tomlinson.

A tale of two bells, one old, one new, and how they toll.

The bells of Bishop Reyes Cathedral are part of Alamos’ daily fabric, they are a prominent voice in a complex orchestral sonic landscape. Here are old and new: a cracked bell was replaced by a shinny bell. I was raised to believe if you don’t have something good to say about something don’t say anything. This is a good rule of thumb, especially in small rural communities. There are always exceptions: this new bell didn’t make me feel good. It wasn’t inviting me, its clang was more of a warning. It is possible that the bell vibrates discordantly only to me, but I find this hard to believe, I have a good ear. Maybe it was the bell ringer’s technique. 14 years have passed, maybe it has mellowed with age. I hope so. A town so culturally rich should have a bell that touches the heart and inspires the imagination. Maybe it does now.

This marker celebrates the birthplace of Dr. Alfonso Ortiz Tirado, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Dr. Ortiz Tirado is another Alamos native that touched the world.

Dr. Ortiz Tirado was born in Alamos and spent his early tears in Culican, Sinola before moving with his newly widowed mother and family to Mexico City. He became a successful doctor specializing in plastic surgery and was Frida Kahlo’s bedside doctor. He made vast contibutions to the medical world. And he could sing. His beautiful tenor entertained audiences across continents. Alamos hosts a grand music festival in his honor, The Festival International Dr. Arturo Ortiz Tirado, that includes dance, art and music with workshops, lectures and concerts. The festival entertainment, centered in Alamos, also performs across Sonora visiting venues in Nogales, Hermosillo, Ciudad Obregon, Hutabampo and Navojoa.
The ten day event is held each year in late January.

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©2012 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Pemex

68… At the Alameda’s western edge is the gas station…

Looking northwest from The jail on Guadalupe Hill, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A summer view looking northwest from the old jail on Guadalupe Hill.

Three busy centers of Alamos can be seen above: the gas station is at the photo’s bottom left, just to the left of the two story building. The Asoc. Ganadera local de Alamos is seen to the left of the gas station with its large angled metal roof that is behind and part of the local cattlemen and ranchers association’s office. The roof’s design acts like a speaker broadcasting music from dances held here across town and off the mountains. In the middle near the right edge is La Capilla Zapopan. Chapel Zapopan was built in 1841 for Dona Juana Mallen by Don Ignacio Almada y Alvarado.

pemex gas station in the alemeda, alamos, sonora, mexico 1995.  photo by anders tomlinson.

One approaches the busy Alameda as the highway from the west ends.

The nature of my documentary efforts is capturing an area’s geography and events during a certain time period. There has been numerous times while I edited history films that I wished someone had taken a picture that benchmarked a landscape in a specific era. My photos will, hopefully, be accessible to future film makers as they look back and interpret the past. The body of my work is not commercial photography: these images were not made for someone or something. They are part and parcel of a time-capsule-database-puzzle driven by my quizzical eye. This Journal you are now reading is my attempt to make it less a puzzle by providing information about the photos and the context that they were produced in. As example, Alamos’ population has nearly doubled since I last visited and I am sure that many of these scenes have changed just as I am sure that many remain the same. I have heard for years that the jail on this hill would become a cultural center, a wonderful idea for a substantial structure with million dollar views right in the middle of town. The question becomes, is this same vantage point in 2011 a view from a cultural center or is it a photo from the old jail? All I know is this is what it looked like in 1996 and behind me was a jail with armed guards wanting me to buy inmate handcrafted horsehair products.

Looking down into gas station, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The only gas station in town is part of a Federal monopoly.

On March 18, 1938 the Mexican government nationalized foreign oil companies operating in Mexico. This was the birth of Petroleos Mexicanos, Pemex. Today it is the second largest state owned country in the world as well as the second largest company in Latin America. Pemex has 138,000 employees and pays taxes that cover 40% of the federal government budget. The Mexican petroleum industry has come a long way from Tampico in 1876 when oil was first successfully refined into kerosene. Modern Mexico and Pemex, with assets worth USD $416 billion, are tied at the billfold.

Pemex gas station, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Need gas? Need air? Need directions. Here is a good place to go.

If one was to spend a day watching the comings and goings at the gas station they would learn much about what makes Alamos go. People pull in for gas and air all day long: on foot with gas cans, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks, big trucks and buses. Conversations take place between customers, attendants, people passing by and folks hanging out. Locals, tourists, ranchers from out back, North American community members, employers, workers, poor and rich all show up if they need gas here and now. Waiting in line can be a social event.

Late afternoon in the Alameda near the gas station, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Another day is coming to an end, a time of reflection and preparation.

These kids are sitting across the street from the gas station. What are they thinking? And where are they today? Did they they know of Carlos Slim Helu? Currently, Carlos Slim Helu is thought to the wealthiest man on planet earth. His father, Julian, emigrated to Mexico from Lebanon at the age of 14 in 1902. Julian began his business career, and long lasting family fortune, with a dry goods store and Mexico City commercial real estate investments. Today, Carlos is chairman and CEO of Telemex and America Movil. His conglomerate Grupo Carso SAB has extensive holdings in other Mexican Companies. All together, his corporate holdings in 2011 are thought to be worth USD $74 billion.

Soon it will be time for these kids to say goodbye to each other and return to their families for dinner. The future of Mexico is tied to Pemex, the likes of Carlos Slim Helu, these kids and the kids who are now sitting in this very same place. I wonder what the kids of today are thinking?

gas station, pemex, alamos, sonora, mexico, 1993.  photo by anders tomlinson

No customer with cash, or good credit, is too small or too big.

This is a busy place in a noisy neighborhood. It is a junction that keeps Alamos, Sonora, Mexico functioning in the modern internal combustion era. In reality, not ever one in Alamos owns a car. In fact, most do not own a car and if they need to travel they walk, ride bikes, motor scooters, an occasional horse, taxis or buses. Life without a car is a slower life. Some would say it is the way to live life come sunrise, come sunset.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Casa de los Santos

32 … Christmas on the road came home at Casa de los Santos

Living room at Casa de los Santos, 1992, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Gary Ruble.

A quiet moment in a beautiful space, the workers are gone for the holidays.

Years of neglect during the 20th century chipped away at Calle Molina #8, yet another grand Almada family mansion turned to ruin. Jim and Nancy Swickard purchased what was left standing in 1988, a central section minus two wings that once surrounded the courtyard on three sides. A four year renovation effort commenced with as many as twenty workers on site at any given time. When we arrived in 1992 the project was nearly finished, a new spirit had taken up residence in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. Our photographic crew of five, led by internationally renown Gary Ruble, prepared to light the living room, kitchen, interior portales and pool area. Casa de los Santos was ours for a couple of hours.

Kitchen at Casa de los Santos, 1992, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo Gary Ruble.

A maestro was brought in to create a dramatic domed brick kitchen ceiling.

Kitchens are the engine rooms of Álamos. Here, is where living starts anew each day. Here, is physical and social sustenance. What struck me about Casa de los Santos was its majestic scale anchored by reverent detail. There was much to see but nothing was crowded, everything had its special place, space flowed from here to there as the interior decorating became a pilgrimage in and of itself.

Interior portales at Casa de los Santos, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by gary Ruble.

The inside portal, and climate, provides an inside – outside way of life.

The interior portals are an Álamos way of life. Arches support roofs without exterior walls and protect residents and casa from the elements. Here, under shade, gardens, views and furnishings come together providing living and dining areas. Imagine sitting here, outside the wall are the muffled sounds of town, a dog barks, children play… Inside, bird sings and wings flutter, breezes come and go, water features provide soothing sound, music and guest voices travel across the courtyard. This is now and then, Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

Pool area at Casa de los Santos, 1992, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Gary Ruble.

It is still, a winter squall has passed. Breathe deep, relax.

Our crew was staying at Puerta Roja Inn on Calle Galeana and Casa Nuzum on Calle Comercio. Though we were separated by only a short walk, mere minutes, we were worlds apart. And this another aspect of Álamos, behind each front door is a social universe unto itself. And it is easy to become lost in the moment and swept away by chance meetings and impromptu invitations. I, as director – producer, was starting to lose control of our efforts. The photo shoot at Casa de los Santos was the first time in days we were all together and on the same page. This moment was my Christmas, we were doing what we came to do. December 1992, Casa de los Santos, and our team in action, priceless.

Hacienda de los Santos 2015 Update

Everyday is history, here the Hacienda's main pool lives on.

Everyday is history, here the Hacienda’s main pool lives on. Photo: Amy Haskell

Casa de los Santos has grown over the years, expanding into other colonial mansions
all interconnected by walkways and maturing gardens.

casa de los santos, alamos, sonora mexico. the largest fountain which was originally the sugar mill's 'Mill'.  It had oxen and a stone wheel to crush the sugar cane.  The operation went into bankruptcy in 1710 and we are the second owner's of record.

Listen closely and one may hear the past come alive. Photo: Amy Haskell

“The Hacienda goes back into a construction mode in July, 2015 with some remodeling work on the sugar mill property to create a true, and long awaited, gift shop adjacent to the Cafe Agave. A new Spa will be ready to open in the Fall and the present spa. We hope to have three totally new Master Suites for next season, plus two inner connecting Hacienda Guest Rooms for families. Our total room and suite count will be 32 for next season. We will have some exciting news this summer about some international recognition for Hacienda de los Santos…” Jim Swickard

To see it as it is today visit Hacienda de los Santos Resort and Spa.

For more 2015 summer updates visit Jim Swickard notes

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Rooftop Gardens

78… A rooftop that lives and breath all things Alamos…

Nuzum roof top garden across the street ffom Bishop Reyes Catheral, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Elizabeth Nuzum's garden across the street from Bishop Reyes Cathedral.

Here, in the shadow of cathedral bells and angelic choirs was a multi-purpose rooftop garden. A narrow wrought iron caracol, snail, spiral staircase led one up from a back patio with a small pool to an expansive array of raised planter boxes. Elizabeth Nuzum enjoyed people, her home, her gardens and life in Alamos. For many, her husband Pember and Elizabeth were Alamos greeters, welcoming visitors inside the old wood doors on Calle Comercio. Elizabeth designed and managed her gardens while Pember kept an eye on the household finances.

Flowers and Sierra de Alamos from Nuzum's roof garden, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

20 feet above the street one can hold a conversation with passing clouds.

The roof top garden and its 360 degree views was a special place. The sky at night, with stars there to be touched while one laid back on a substantial Sonoran cot, was a connection to all things in all places. Rooftop eavesdropping on the comings and goings along Calle Comercio and Calle Guadaloupe Victoria tuned one in with the heartbeats of Alamos: Bishop Reyes Cathedral, Palacio, Plaza de Las Armas, Mercado, all points of the compass and all events past and present.

Nuzum roof top garden looking east at Mirador, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Mirador voices, at times, arrived here with a favorable wind.

Let me count the sounds I heard up on the roof: uniformed school kids walking in groups, talking, laughing, singing, stepping off rhythms, kicking balls, kids being all things kids. Occasional horse hoofs echoing on cobblestone streets. Music from rattling car and truck radios ricocheting off narrow streets. Surround sound bird songs and calls punctuated by barking dogs, working hammer and saws and distant braying burros. All combinations of people passing by: one, two, or three generations together talking, workers, errand runners, neighbors en-route to visit neighbors or hang out in the Plaza, shop at the Alameda and Mercado or attend to business at the Palacio or… This garden overlooked the center of Centro Alamos’ rainbow of expression: joy, surprise, acceptance, expectations, anger, yearning, anticipation. greetings, farewells…

Christina Vega on Nuzum's roof garden, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A young girl picks flowers on the roof, a simple moment, a simple smile.

Christina Vega, daughter of Chacho and Cammie, sister of Gaspar, walked in all worlds Alamos. Her Mexican blood was Chaco’s large family and her American blood was Cammie’s parents Elizabeth and Pember and brother Kit who came to visit from his world travels. Cammie and Chacho lived modestly on Calle Ninos Heroes, a short walk from the grand roof top garden on the the other side of Guadaloupe Hill.

Christina Vega and church from Nuzum roof, alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

What does Christina see, and hear, on this spring day in 1984?

The roof’s northwest corner, with a view into the Plaza and Gazebo, was across the street from the bank. At opening time a line of people would be waiting sharing conversation. Daily masses brought people to the church’s eastern door. Funerals processions would leave the church and passed by as they headed east to the Panteon – Cemetery. Police headquarters, at times busy, were three houses to the east on Calle Comercio. Tourists speaking English, French, German and other languages would stop and chat as they headed to and from surrounding lodging. At night, one could listen to quitar playing coming from Polos restaurant’s kitchen as well as the Estudiantina practicing at the Museum. At this moment Christina is listening to the public serenade that is Alamos.

Pember told Anders, “always call us Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.” And Anders has.
Pember and Elizabeth Nuzum were a major part of the North American Community for decades. Their casa next to the Church on Calle Comercio #2 greeted many many who visited Alamos, including Anders. It is not uncommon to have rain squalls in December. And it was common to hear Pember playing his theater organ in the Nuzum music room. Those days are gone. But the spirit lingers, it always does.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Nigthtime Power

30 … Imaginations soar with night when all one can see is lit by man or moon…

Governor's Mansion ruin at night, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Light and shadow, substance and form, history and echos, spirits and ghosts.

In the night, things from the past bump into modern moments. As example, aged columns, scarred by events that rushed through time, are illuminated by electricity. As example, Sonora and Sinoloa were merged into a new state of Occidente and in November 1827 Alamos was declared its capital. On January 10, 1828, Governor Jose Maria Gaxiola moved into his official residence behind the walls seen above. Here, decisions were made that shaped those days, life was lived to match royalty in Spain and the mines to the west were in full production and… You are here…

Calle Comercio at night, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Calle Comercio on a summer midnight, 1996. Even spirits must sleep.

If that police pickup truck, parked across the street from the Police station, wasn’t there then where could we be, and when? The answer is Alamos, Sonora, Mexico circa both 1800 and 2011. This is a portrait of power. At the western end, the cobblestones leads one up the steps and into the Cathedral’s side doors. Down the block to the east, the Governor and Bishop mansions were, and are, across the street from one another. Thousands of miles to the east is Spain, thousands of miles to the west is China and at one time they were both here, and today their DNA marches on.

The hospital in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

There is no mistaking this for the past. Modern lines, modern times.

On the way into Alamos Centro a regional – basic care hospital is setback on the right. At night, this scene could be an emergency room anywhere in the world. I had need to visit after one long difficult day into night. The doctors were here in Alamos for one year’s mandatory service, a bridge between medical school and where they would go to make their livings. That night, my doctor came from outside Guadalajara and hoped he would be going to Tijuana, to be on the frontier of modern Mexico. I was impressed by how he looked me in the eyes, how he touched and probed, and by the questions he asked and how he listened and responded to my answers. He was in the moment, and the moment was all about bringing me comfort. It was not about profit or loss. It was about me.

X-rays were needed to evaluate what was happening in my chest. Alas, their x-ray machine was down for repairs. He gave me a shot to reduce my discomfort and asked me to bring him back chest x-rays. He had done all he could do. The morning began meeting the Police chief in his office, at his request, and ended up on a midnight taxi cab ride to Navajoa in search of x-rays. And this day will be another of the twelve Alamos short stories I am preparing to write.

Tis the Season of Love and Jackets.
Christmas in the Plaza de Las Armas is a time of of sharing and joy. Food, fireworks and the town coming out to be seen and see is what community is all about.

It is In The Night That the Past Dances Down Narrow Streets
Oh little town of Alamos. Lights sparkle in the evening darkness. Pungent smells float with the shifting breeze. Music, live and recorded, rises up from the homes and neighborhoods. Birds sing under star filled skies. Dogs bark and cars pass by. Footsteps on cobblestone and smoke from fireplaces create mystic moments. Children of all ages play late into the night on the quiet streets.

Night time is not threatening, it is a celebration of another day both coming and going. Night time is magical. The town seems smaller. The world becomes all you can see looking down a street. It is easy to focus on the smallest thing. And behind the walls there are other worlds: private legacies, conversations., comforts, learnings, entertainments, deliberations, dreams.
 Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson. Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

The Place to Be and Be Seen
It is a wonderful feeling to sit with a friend in the plaza on a pleasant evening. Here, one can watch people come, be and go. This is the a place to be seen and see. When all have come and gone it becomes a romantic refuge for a young couple.


Imagine horse drawn carriages, burro pack trains, and cars that have come into Alamos along these streets. Imagine the families that have been here for centuries. Imagine the change of government, some peaceful some violent. It is all here in the shadows of night. Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson.
Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Rancho Las Crucecitas

You say Estancia Crysalis – I say Rancho Las Crucecitas…

walking home from town to Estancia Crysalis, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

This may not be a well-traveled road but it is a long-traveled path through time.

If one were to close their eyes and listen to the footsteps of this old woman, with a young woman’s body, one would hear someone going back in time, retracing footprints of the ancient ones as this old woman returns to Estancia Crysalis. Here is another world where the land speaks in a dominate voice. Listen carefully, and one will hear sounds that Indians heard before the arrival of the Spanish. Here, there is a purity of all things nature.

Looking east from the main house at Estancia Crysalis, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

And there is Chihuahua, and there are Sierra Madre foothills and there is...

It is a short, invigorating walk from Plaza de las Armas to Estancia Crysalis on paved road, the old El Camino Real. The slight incline, as you rise into rolling Sierra de Alamos foothills, stirs the minds and exercises the heart. The entrance to Estancia Crysalis is across the road from the El Mirador. The dirt road into Estancia Crysalis follows Arroyo Barranquita. Once on the ranch there is the Sierra Alamos, right there, in all her beauty, framed by 200 year old Mesquite trees.

Horse stalls at Estancia Crysalis, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

For the Arabians these were stalls for students these were shelter.

And so it was and so it is. Estancia Crysalis was formerly known as Rancho Las Crucecitas. The last owners of Rancho Las Crucecitas, Dr. Martin Dale Edwards and his wife Zora Tyler, raised a select herd of 22 purebred Arabians. These rustic stalls were the horses homes. Sharon Bernard is the current owner and changed the ranch name to Estancia Crysalis. A group of college students on a field trip from the USA stayed at Estancia Crysalis and used these stalls for lodging. And so it was and so it is.

A Ranch on the outskirts of town, looks forward to the future.
Estancia Crysalis, along the El Camino Real, is a mile southeast of the Plaza in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. The 175 acre ranch, on Sierra de Alamos sloping foothills, is focusing on a new day, and listening for opportunities floating on tropical breezes. Video…

The above video is from summer. The following video is spring. Estancia Crysalis experiences the seasons in all their dramatic changes. Life in Centro Alamos is dominated by man’s structures and gardens. Life on Estancia Crysalis is dominated by nature.

In another era, Estancia Crysalis was a working horse ranch.
Today, the spirits of these departed steeds, proud Arabians, are present, be it a sound of a branch breaking under weight or a small flurry of dust. Shut your eyes and listen, they are still here. Video…

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Maria Felix

23 … The view out this window has changed over the past century…

Old adobe ruin at Galeana 41, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

There was a day that this was the edge of town looking west towards wilderness.

1914 was in the middle of turbulent times for the region. Yaquis and Mayos were joining forces with Obregon and Villa’s armies. Venustiano Carranza became the third Mexican President in two years. One of them, Francisco Madero, was assassinated. Hard times were here. Maria de los Angeles Felix Guerrean was born April 8, 1914. This window looked out from her birth place. She had eleven sisters and brothers. They lived here until 1929 when they left for Guadalajara. Soon her beauty would be nationally recognized.

Galeana 41, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Gary Ruble.

An Alamos beauty walks down Calle Galeana in 1993. Photo by Gary Ruble.

This is where Maria Felix was born and raised, riding horseback in a land that was losing its mines. Her father was of Yaqui Indian blood and her Spanish blood mother was raised in a Pico Heights, California convent. Much of the beauty that is seen in the faces of Alamos is a product of interlocking bloodlines that span the globe. There are European, Asian, eastern Indian, Philippine and indigenous Indian features across town. Maria described herself as ” a woman with a man’s heart.” She was a commanding presence, a beautiful liberator, a woman beyond her times. She made 47 films in Mexico and France. She became internationally recognized. She published a bestselling autobiography in 1993, All My Wars. And this is where her life’s journey began..

Galeana 41, 1996, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Step forward in time, it is now September 1996, late afternoon.

Hurricane Fausto was the storm that leveled the walls. The window is gone. Galeana #41 is now a mother of all ruins. A passing carriage takes tourists around town. Tomorrow would be another day. In 1999, Lynda Barondes bought Galeana #41. She was to learn later that this was the birthplace of Maria Felix. In 2002, part of Lynda’s restoration efforts, a Museum opened here with three rooms dedicated to the spirit Maria Felix embodied. The Museum closed in 2012 as Lynda sold the property and moved to the nearby southern foothills overlooking Alamos.

Buckle-up as we take a super fast-rock n’ roll car ride through Alamos on a grey winter day.
Driving Across Alamos on an overcast December day starts at La Puerta Roja Inn. We head east and circle the Plaza de Las Armas before heading to the Panteon – Cemetery. We head back to La Puerta Roja exploring different routes. The best way to travel is walking. Video…

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.