New Mexico is a remarkable place; home to the oldest capital city in America, the oldest house in North America, and the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America. With so much history, it can be easy to overlook some really phenomenal locations. In this blog series, we aim to highlight one of these locations and explore their history, some interesting facts, and any upcoming events. Subscribe to our blog to catch all of our posts where we look differently at the most interesting places in New Mexico!
El Rancho de las Golondrinas — The Ranch of the Swallows — is a historic ranch turned living history museum located just south of sunny Santa Fe. Located strategically on the Camino Real — The Royal Road — that extended all the way from Mexico City to Santa Fe. Located on 200 acres of land, the ranch has always been a rest stop for weary travelers, loaded heavy with goods for trade. Known for centuries for the hospitality found at this gorgeous farming valley, the famous military leader and governor, Don Juan Bautista de Anza remarked positively on this safe haven for adventurers in 1780 — cementing it as a key example of life during Spanish Colonial rule.
Purchased in 1932 by Leonora Curtin and her mother, these women of the west were known for their constant efforts to preserve the numerous cultures in New Mexico, as well as provide work during The Great Depression. Leonora not only saw the budding potential to turn the ranch into a living history museum, but she was also the mastermind behind Santa Fe’s Native Market, hoping to showcase traditional craft forms and techniques, as well as support artists through the worst economic downturn in the history of the country. In 1946, Leonora married Yrjo Alfred (Y.A.) and the two began converting the old ranch into the phenomenal museum it is today. The museum officially opened in the spring of 1972 and is known today as the premier living history museum of New Mexico.
American Girl, the line of dolls and books that have inspired young girls everywhere to literacy and bravery has always strived for inclusivity among its line. Originally started in 1986 by Pleasant Company, they soon added many characters to their line up, like Josefina Montoya — the sixth American Girl, added in 1997. Josefina’s story takes place on a New Mexico ranch in 1824, struggling to adjust to the loss of her mother and an everchanging culture as Spanish and Western influences roar across the place she calls home. Both the character of Josefina, and the ranch her story takes place on, were inspired by El Rancho de las Golondrinas and the many young girls who grew up there. At the living museum, you can take your little one on a journey through literature and history with a specially tailored Josefina Tour.
Now why does it look so familiar?
Featured in films ranging from Fools Rush In to Young Guns, it’s no wonder that El Rancho de las Golondrias might look familiar, even to someone who’s never been to New Mexico before! While their guided tours focus on the more historic aspects of the location, it’s always neat to walk the same paths that stars like Salma Hayek and Kiefer Sutherland did! You can also contact the museum if you are interested in obtaining permits to film on location at the ranch.
February 25th from 6:00PM to 7:00PM
Location: Saint Francis Auditorium at the New Mexico Museum of Art
Admission: $10 | FREE for Las Golondrias and Museum of New Mexico volunteers and members.
Guided tours are offered for free (with museum admission) on a daily basis at 10:30AM. Spots are first come first serve for the first 25 people.
Other guided tours are offered on a reservation basis and must be reserved at least two weeks in advance. Groups of 10 or more are advised to call the tour office in advance before booking.
Self-guided tours are available daily from 10AM to 4PM. Self-guided tours are $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and teens, and children under 12 are free!
Make sure to check back regularly for their entertaining line up of annual festivals, like their Wine Festival and Renaissance Fair!
Regardless of the visit, make sure you plan at least two hours to explore the expansive 200 acres that the museum has to offer.