Website summary: The Cañada Alamosa Project is a joint archeological undertaking of the Cañada Alamosa Institute, Monticello, New Mexico, and Human Systems Research of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Its purpose is to study, understand, and relate the stories of the generations of people who lived along Alamosa Creek, a perennial stream flowing through Socorro and Sierra Counties to the Rio Grande'River in southwest New Mexico, during the past 2000 years. Karl Laumbach, the project archaeologist and team excavations have been conducted at four major pithouse and pueblo sites in upper Cañada Alamosa (Monticello Canyon). They are the Victorio Site (pithouse and Tularosa Phase), Pinnacle Ruin (Magdalena Phase), the Kelly Canyon Site (Socorro Phase), and the Montoya Site (Mimbres Phase). The efforts and support of many individuals and organizations have been essential to CAP’s accomplishments. They include students and archaeologists from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Eastern New Mexico University, Portales; volunteers from Earthwatch Institute, Maynard, MA; staff of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, Las Cruces; and staff of the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Socorro, and many other scholars, scientists, students, crew members, and neighbors. Field teams lead by Karl Laumbach of Human Systems Research and Stephen Lekson of the University of Colorado performed a brief reconnaissance survey of the area in 1988. In 1991-1992, Laumbach led a more extensive survey which included the first recordings of the Victorio and Montoya Sites.
The effort was funded by the Department of the Interior as it considered nominating the area for national monument status. That never came to pass, but the resulting research, including an ethnohistoric study by Lekson, became the starting point for the Cañada Alamosa Project.
Monticello Box Ranch, a small ranch containing a cluster of significant sites in the canyon, was offered for sale in the late 1990s. Laumbach persuaded the sellers to offer it as a preservation property.
The effort bore fruit when Trudy and Denny O’Toole acquired the property in 1998. The O’Tooles established the non-profit Cañada Alamosa Institute, Inc. and joined forces with Laumbach’s non-profit employer Human Systems Research, Inc. to create the Cañada Alamosa Project.The Alamosa drainage encompasses approximately 725 square miles and ranges in elevation from 4,400 to 10,334 feet above sea level. The drainage includes privately held lands as well as lands administered by the United States Forest Service (Cibola and Gila National Forests), the Bureau of Land Management (Las Cruces District), and the New Mexico State Land Office. It takes in portions of Socorro, Sierra, Grant, and Catron counties.
The principal research goals of the Cañada Alamosa Project are to answer questions about human habitation and migration in a cultural borderland, the drainage of the Rio Alamosa, and to place those findings in the broader context of researchers’ and the public’s understanding of the ways human communities evolve through interaction with a dynamic environment and each other over time. 3 179