Friends of El Camino Real Historic Trail

The Historical Trail Site is temporarily closed until further notice.

Explore the Museum

Exhibits and Displays

Outside of the Historic Trail Site

The wagon caravans, traveling the trail over the flat desert expanse of the Jornada del Muerto, were often described as looking like ships on the ocean. The El Camino Real Historic Trail Site was designed to be a ship that takes the visitor along El Camino Real. The entrance is the gangway to the ship; the building interior appears somewhat like a cruise ship, with visitors entering along the promenade deck to a stairway to the main deck. Outside the building to the east is the ampitheater, overlooking the vast Jornada del Muerto, a visitor stands as if standing on the bow of a ship, complete with a bow mast and observation deck.

Inside of the Historic Trail Site

Building the Historic Trail Site

Due to the remote location, building El Camino Real Historic Trail Site was quite an ordeal. New Mexico Historic Sites, the architect and contractor, and Friends of El Camino Real all worked together for two years to see the dream come true. The Historic Trail Site has received several awards for the displays and presentation.

The Piro People: Teypana Pueblo exhibit at the Museum

The Friends of El Camino Real are proud to present our newest exhibit on the excavation of the Teypana Pueblo at El Camino Real Historic Site. This was the Piro pueblo on El Camino Real visited by Juan de Oñate and his colonists in May 1598. The Piros were the first inhabitants along the Rio Grande in what is now Socorro County, New Mexico.

Teypana, and nearby Qualacú, are the only two of dozens of Piro pueblos to receive professional excavation. Artifacts of the Teypana excavation were donated to the museum by the Bursum and Headen families to show pueblo life along the Rio Grande in the 1300-1600s.

This exhibit is unique in that the artifacts are presented exactly as they were recovered during the excavation. Unlike most museum displays, these artifacts have not received any reconstruction except simple cleaning. There are few Piro artifacts in New Mexico's museums. This is now the largest Piro pueblo exhibit on public display. The Spaniards named the pueblo Socorro in 1598. About 1620, the name Socorro was transferred to the nearby and larger Pilabó (Pee-lah-BO) pueblo - the location of today's City of Socorro.

Camino de Suenos by Greg Reiche

Location: El Camino Real Historic Trail Site, NM
Created: 2005
Materials: Steel, glass, and text
Size: 30'x24'x16'

Text through threshold reads: "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." Ralph Waldo Emerson (The text above is incorporated within this monumental work and is only visible if one exits their car and walks through the piece itself.)

About the Artist
Greg Reiche grew up in Socorro, New Mexico and now lives in Santa Fe. He started selling handmade jewelry and furniture at 16 and ran his own tax business after college. Art kept calling him back, so he combined his business skills and his love of sculpture in an Albuquerque gallery venture. That's where he met his wife when she applied for a job at the gallery. After 14 years of bouncing between mediums to the pay the bills, Greg sold the gallery in 1997 to focus on creating sculptures.

About the Sculpture
Sited in the southern desert of central New Mexico, this sculpture marks the entrance to the El Camino Real Historic Trail Site. Originally planned as a joint effort between Mexico and the United States, the Historic Trail Site contains award winning exhibits, an interpretive learning center, and artifacts presenting the history and heritage of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. The Historic Trail Site itself sits along the original Camino Real and is a stunning work of architecture.

Greg Reiche on the Camino de Suenos
This was a 1% for public art project and my first monumental public commission. I created the design after months of research in the historical archives at the University of New Mexico, numerous site visits including several overnight camp outs, on site meditations and conversations with a diverse group of stakeholders in the project including a descendant of one of the original Spanish land grant families still living in the area. Having read numerous historical accounts of travelers along the road from Onate in the 16th century to the present, I settled on a design that focused on the concept of both physical and metaphorical passage (through both time and space) and infinite space.

I felt it was important to entice viewers into the physical environment so that they might get a sense of the sights, smells, beauty and challenges of the native desert environment. Removed from the air conditioned comfort of ones vehicle, and walking through the artwork you can get a sense of the challenges faced by earlier travelers along the road. Standing within the piece itself, and looking up you are engulfed in the column of blue light expanding upward into the infinite space of the azure blue desert sky. This 18 foot tall column of laminated glass symbolizes the travelers quest for adventure and the unknown as it expands infinitely into the infinity of the sky. Viewed form a distance it is a strong visual marker, a "point of focused light" marking the path through the imposing steel body of the sculpture.