Historic Route 66 & Santa Fe, NM
Like I told you in my last blog post, we spent a couple of days in Albuquerque after our quick trip to Texas. And the RV Park that we stayed in was along Historic Route 66, so we decided to check out some more of this famous highway. In November of 1937, a realigned Route 66 became New Mexico’s first completely oil-surfaced road and shortest east-west route, which cut the distance through the state on route 66 from 506 miles to 399 miles. The original north-south route remained in use as US 85. We traveled a bit on the original route, but didn’t see too many of the original buildings left. We found many along the newer route and here’s a sample of them.
After we toured Central Avenue, we drove north a bit and headed to Santa Fe, which is apparently the oldest state capital in the United States. It was a beautiful day and the area was quite busy when we arrived. We soon found this building, called the Hewett House. It is one of the few remaining military buildings from the period when the US Army maintained two military reservations in Santa Fe. This one was one of six constructed as housing for officers and their families assigned to the Headquarters of the Military Department of NM in 1870-71. We then moved down the road and wandered the Historic Santa Fe Plaza. It has been the commercial, social and political center of Santa Fe for hundreds of years. Some of the buildings surrounding the Plaza date back to the 1600s.
There was a whole lot of activity going on through the place. There were all kinds of people who had made jewelry that were trying to sell it. There were also people throughout the middle of the plaza that were playing instruments and singing too. After getting some lunch and some very good locally-brewed beer, we wandered through the area exploring a bit more. Up at the end of one of the streets is the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, commonly known as Saint Francis Cathedral. The cathedral was built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886 on the site of an older adobe church. In front the the cathedral is a statue of Kateri Ketakwitha (1656-1680). She is the first Indian of North America to be promoted a Saint. The inside of the place was amazing to look at. The architecture and stained-glass were just incredible!
Outside was an area called the Rosary Walk where there were many people sitting quietly. The trees blooming there were very beautiful! After the cathedral we headed further down the road and around the corner to the historic Loretto Chapel, built in 1873. Another incredible building!! Although it is quite small inside, it was also quite stunning!!
More incredible though are the two mysteries that surround the spiral staircase inside: the identity of its builder and the physics of its construction.
When the chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft 22 feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access would have to be via ladders as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small chapel. But as you can see in the above photo, a spiral staircase was eventually built instead. Legend says that to find a solution, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. A man later appeared with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. They are a magnificent structure! The staircase has two 360-degree turns and no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails – only wooden pegs. Questions also surround the number of stair risers relative to the height of the choir loft. No matter all of that, I just found them to be incredibly beautiful!!!!!
After the Loretto Chapel, we continued walking around town, had a very tasty ice cream cone and just continued to enjoy the Santa Fe Plaza. Then we finally headed back to the truck to return to Albuquerque. We happened upon this interesting statue in what they called Burro Alley. They have to to pay homage to the Burro who came through this area with wood peddlers, farmers and merchants. Burros economically served the many cultures of New Mexico. For many years the people of Santa Fe relied on the Burro for their welfare. I found it all very interesting.
We really enjoyed Santa Fe and I hope you enjoyed the info and photos. Happy Trails!!