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In 1749 a Navajo mission was established at Cebolleta, and by 1804, Albuquerque area stockmen had built a fortified town for themselves. During the resulting warfare, the Spanish settlers used Los Portales Cave as a refuge. The cave was later converted to a shrine with an altar carved from the living rock.
Until it was by-passed by the railroad in the 1880s, its waterhole made El Morro an important stop for travelers in the Acoma-Zuni region. Numerous inscriptions carved in the sandstone date from the prehistoric, Spanish, Mexican, and Territorial periods in New Mexico's history. An important example is Onate's inscription, carved in 1605.
Located just north of the great lava bed known as the malpais, Grants began as a coaling station for the Santa Fe Railroad. Around 1880 it was known as Grant's Camp, after the Canadian bridge contractor Angus A. Grant. In 1950, the area's vast uranium deposits were discovered.
Kowina is one of the ancestral Acoma pueblos, occupied from approximately 1100-1200 A.D. This and several ancient pueblos on the Cebolleta Mesa and surrounding area were established when smaller settlements began to congregate and withdraw into larger, more easily defensible sites as early as 950 A.D. The Kowina Cultural Research Foundation was located here in the early 1970's.
This is the narrowest stretch of lava flow that extends almost 25 miles to the southwest where it originated about 1,000 years ago from a volcanic vent. Here the flow fills an old river valley where numerous dry and water-filled pockets are associated with pressure ridges and areas of collapsed lava tubes.
Legend describes Acoma as a "place that always was". Archeological evidence shows it has been occupied since at least the 13th century. Established on this mesa for defensive purposes, Acoma was settled by inhabitants of nearby pueblos which had been abandoned. Nearly destroyed by the Spanish in 1599, Acoma was quickly reestablished by ancestors of it present occupants.
Built atop a great mesa for defensive purposes, Acoma has been continuously occupied since the 13th century. A dramatic battle between the Acomas and Onate's forces occurred here in 1599. The mission church of San Esteban was built between 1629 and 1641, and today looks much as described by Fray Francisco Atanasio Dominguez in 1776.
Keresan-speaking refugees from Santo Domingo, Acoma, Cochiti, and other pueblos founded Laguna after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and the Spanish reconquest of 1692. Named by the Spaniards for a marshy lake to the west, the pueblo still occupies its original hilltop site today.
The western pueblos of Acoma and Zuni took part in the revolt against Spanish rule which broke out on August 10, 1680. During the 1690s refugees from the Rio Grande pueblos escaping from reconquest of their lands, joined with local Keresans to form the Pueblo of Laguna.
The picturesque mission church of San Jose de la Laguna was built around 1706 by Fray Antonio Miranda and shows the single-aisle floor plan commonly used in pueblo churches. It has been repaired many times, and acquired its distinctive white stucco exterior in 1977.
The church contains a beautiful and well-preserved altar screen made between 1800 and 1808 by a folk artist known only as the "Laguna santero." The interior walls are mud-plastered and white-washed, and the floor is made of packed earth. The handsome wooden ceiling is laid in a herringbone pattern.
San Rafael, formerly known as El Gallo, is located at a spring near the Malpais, the great lava flow to the east. The area was visited by members of Vasquez de Coronado's expedition in 1540. In 1862, it was selected as the original site of Fort Wingate, focus of the campaign against the Navajos.