Salmon Ruin
Salmon Ruin is twelve miles east of Farmington, NM.
Named after the family that realized its importance and protected it for more than 90 years.
Photo Album of Salmon Ruin
A photo tour of Heritage Park.

[Salmon Ruin]

Primary occupation began about AD 1088-1090 by Hisatsinom people closely related to the Chaco Canyon group. They built one of the oldest of the Chacoan Great Houses in the San Juan Valley and one of the largest outlying colonies of Chaco.

The back wall faces north and is about 130 meters long. At both the east and west ends of this are arms that both extend south for about 50 meters. I can only surmise that estimates are given because excavation is not complete.

The major structures are two stories high, with five to seven large rooms and about 150 smaller rooms. They sit on gravel terraces from the Pleistocene times, and have core-and-veneer masonry walls, T-shaped doorways, and large symmetrically arranged rooms. The builders abandoned the site about 1130.

Intermediate occupation between 1130 and 1185 was by the indigenous peoples of the San Juan Valley and they made no significant structural changes. This is based on the study of trash and ceramics found.

Secondary occupation began in 1185 by people related to Mesa Verde. Some of the Primary building was torn down and changes in the architecture were made. The large rooms were divided and many small kivas were built within the large square and rectangular rooms. The Secondary inhabitants had abandoned this site by 1285, and only a small group remained.

Each of the groups that occupied the site were mainly farmers, and though there was a permanent water supply in the San Juan River, there were many other factors. As each succeeding group moved in they depleted the resources of the area according to their preferences and moved on.

Architecture Examples

[Salmon Ruin] [Salmon Ruin]
[Salmon Ruin] [Salmon Ruin]
First construction was in a round or oval shape. Rectangles came later and to
strict tradionalists this was a sign of departing from the true ways.

Field work from 1972 through 1978 has recovered over 1.5 million scientific samples and artifacts, with approximately 30 per cent of the structure being excavated.

Heritage Park

The significance of this succession of occupations is displayed in the Heritage Park. Exhibits include Paleo-indian lithic artifacts, a Basketmaker Anasazi (their word) pithouse, forked-stick and cribbed-log Navajo hogans, Jicarilla Apache and Ute wickiups and teepees, and an historic trading post.

A photo tour of Heritage Park.
For a quick education in this architecture,
Aztec Ruins
and Salmon Ruin are not to be missed.

See a related story: New Discoveries About Hisatsinom
in the first issue of The Four Corners Clamor.

Farmington Information: 1-800-448-1240

See the Four Corners Clamor: Main Index for more recent
discoveries and events concerning Native American Indians.
For beautiful authentic scenes of these early peoples see the
Mark Silversmith Gallery.
Mark researches the tribes and portrays their lives of then and now.
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© Copyright 1998 by L. Michael Smith. Fair use granted.