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Salmon Ruins, Farmington

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Ruin · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
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Salmon Ruins is an ancient Chacoan and Pueblo site located in the northwest corner of New Mexico, USA. Salmon was constructed by migrants from Chaco Canyon around 1090 CE, with 275 to 300 original rooms spread across three stories, an elevated tower kiva in its central portion, and a great kiva in its plaza. Subsequent use by local Middle San Juan people (beginning in the 1120s) resulted in extensive modifications to the original building, with the reuse of hundreds of rooms, division of many of the original large, Chacoan rooms into smaller rooms, and emplacement of more than 20 small kivas into pueblo rooms and plaza areas. The site was occupied by ancient Ancestral Puebloans until the 1280s, when much of the site was destroyed by fire and abandoned (Reed 2006b). The pueblo is situated on the north bank of the San Juan River, just to the west of the modern town of Bloomfield, New Mexico, and about 45 miles (72 km) north of Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. The site was built on the first alluvial terrace above the San Juan River floodplain.

The ruins of Salmon Pueblo were excavated between 1970 and 1979, under the direction of Cynthia Irwin-Williams of Eastern New Mexico University in partnership with the San Juan County Museum Association (Irwin-Williams 2006, p. 17-27). The San Juan Valley Archaeological Program resulted in the excavation of slightly more than one-third of Salmon's ground floor rooms. More than 1.5 million artifacts and samples were recovered from Salmon. In 1980, Irwin-Williams and co-principal investigator Phillip Shelley wrote, compiled and edited a multivolume, 1,500-page report. The document fulfilled the reporting requirements for the series of grants under which the project had been completed but it was not intended for publication. Throughout the 1980s, Irwin-Williams and Shelley worked on a modified and greatly reduced manuscript, with the goal of producing a publishable report. This work ended with the untimely death of Cynthia Irwin-Williams in 1990.

In 2000, Archaeology Southwest (formerly the Center for Desert Archaeology) President Bill Doelle and staff met with Salmon Executive Director Larry Baker and forged a multiyear partnership. Archaeology Southwest's work at Salmon began in 2001 as the Salmon Reinvestment and Research Program, with archaeologist Paul Reed leading the effort. The research initiative comprised two primary tasks: first, to condense and edit the original 1980 Salmon report into a new, published technical report, and second, to conduct additional, primary research in several targeted areas, with the goal of producing material for a detailed technical report, as well as a synthetic volume. The three-volume report, entitled Thirty-Five Years of Archaeological Research at Salmon Ruins, New Mexico, was published in 2006 (Reed 2006a), followed by the synthetic-summary volume Chaco’s Northern Prodigies, published in 2008 (Reed 2008a). An additional component of the Archaeology Southwest effort at Salmon focused on the curation needs of the massive collection. These needs were partially addressed through a Save America's Treasures grant for $150,000 awarded in 2002. The curation effort (repackaging and reboxing artifacts) has continued over the last 10 years.
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TripAdvisor
  • We passed by this 1000 year old native american ruins on our way to Taos and we turned around to go back and check it out. We were able to enjoy everything in about an hour. The people working... 
    We passed by this 1000 year old native american ruins on our way to Taos and we turned around to go back and check it out. We were able to enjoy everything in about an hour. The people working...  more »
  • My friends and I recently took two 8-hour tours from Salmon Ruins -- Arches & Archeology and Chaco Canyon -- with their amazing curator and archeologist, Tori Myers. With Tori as guide, the tours... 
    My friends and I recently took two 8-hour tours from Salmon Ruins -- Arches & Archeology and Chaco Canyon -- with their amazing curator and archeologist, Tori Myers. With Tori as guide, the tours...  more »
Google
  • Very nice small museum, with interesting Chacoan culture displays. Walking interpretive trail goes down a steep paved path from the gift shop/museum to an area with a replica Chacoan settlement, the pioneer cabin from the late 1800's and a small display of the original pueblo ruins. A lower parking lot, avoids the steep walk for those that need an easier path. The interpretive trail is level and relatively short, +/- 1/4 mile. The gift shop has a large deck with chairs that provide wonderful views of the surrounding countryside as well as the museum trails and their large cottonwoods. This area is lovely on the Fall when the cottonwoods turn bright gold.
  • Barely noticeable in the shadow of its more famous "cousin" (Chaco Canyon), the Salmon Ruins (and associated Museum), located in Bloomfield, NM, are a "not-to-be-missed" stop for anyone interested in Pueblo Indian archaeology, history, and culture. It's unusual in that it is privately owned by a non-profit foundation, and therefore gets no federal funding. Nevertheless, the site - a partially excavated village, or "Great House," is well-maintained, and is supported by a well-curated museum presenting history, context, artifacts, and other fascinating information. The staff are not only friendly, but *knowledgeable.* A resident archaeologist there gave us an all-day tour of Chaco Canyon, and was able to provide lots of interesting detail about Salmon Ruins as well. Allow at least three hours to absorb everything.

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