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Where Time Stands Still

The historic Los Luceros ranch complex

Los Luceros House on the Rio Grande. Photo by Gene Peach.

History lovers will savor an appointment-only tour of this ranch with an 800-year history

Just visiting this scenic property is a special event — tour the ranger’s lodgings and the guest house, stroll the apple orchard, enjoy a picnic on the riverbank, or encounter a hushed moment in the quiet, diminutive chapel. To experience Los Luceros is to open the door of curiosity about how the generations of inhabitants lived, farmed, crafted, innovated, and survived.

Exit NM 68 about ten miles north of Española and just a mile off the highway is the lush, storied estate and a column of old-growth trees in the distance. Los Luceros’ historic marker is so shot up and covered with spray paint that its purpose, like the property itself, is hard to make out. For many New Mexicans, Los Luceros and the surrounding areas are well-known for apples. Potsherds at the site tell a much longer history from around 1150 to 1350. Since that time, the course of the river has drifted consistently to the west, exposing a large tract of fertile bottomland that succeeding cultures have farmed for centuries.

Named after the prominent Spanish Colonial family that once lived there, its existing structures were built on the ruins of a Tewa-speaking Indian settlement known as P’o yege. A seasonal fishing and farming village, it served the greater community of Native pueblos on both sides of the river. The lengthy occupation of the site supports the local lore that Los Luceros also functioned as a small, fortified Spanish outpost dating from the early 1600s. The remains of pottery from this later period — from about 1625 to the 1900s — indicate continuous settlement at Los Luceros since the earliest days of the Spanish colonization of New Mexico.

Make time in 2018 to experience the scenic beauty and learn more about the fascinating history of Los Luceros, a story that traces millennia of New Mexico’s history.

The 148-acre Los Luceros ranch, located north of Española along the Rio Grande near the village of Alcalde is surely one of New Mexico’s most scenic and historically significant properties.

The centerpiece of the historic Los Luceros ranch complex is a 5,700-square-foot, 18th century Territorial-style adobe home that was renovated by the Cabot Foundation in 2004 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property also includes a visitor’s center, director’s residence, and a small gallery. In addition to the hacienda and the visitor center complex, the property contains three residences, an 18th century chapel, the original village jail, numerous farm buildings, apple orchards, irrigated pasture, and bosque on the Rio Grande. The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, which purchased the Los Luceros property from the family of Frank and Ann Cabot in 2008, is the state’s cultural steward and is working to ensure the site’s preservation and integrity in perpetuity.

Los Luceros was the Rio Arriba county seat for a short while before the honor was bestowed upon Tierrra Amarilla. Through marriages and parcel sales by various owners, the ranch has dwindled to 148 acres.

Admission Free. Open by appointment only. To schedule a visit (505) 476-1165.

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